Erin Hopmann

How do you feel about the project?
Mondays aren’t always the worst. I woke up feeling great, excited to start a new week.

I had a great meeting with an investor today. This whole honesty thing has, perhaps counterintuitively, led to less desperation. Instead of pushing a hard sell, my approach was just… honesty. And the result? A really good meeting. White-boarding. Exchanging ideas. NEW ideas (which doesn’t happen as often in meetings with investors). And an eagerness to keep the conversation going.

What’s the plan?
Hit the streets and kidnap a few designers and engineers to work for free for the next month? Only sorta kidding.

In addition to the teacher fee change (agenda item #1), we need awareness, eyeballs, awareness. Which I’ve mentioned a bunch already. But in absence of a national PR campaign, or the like, we’ve employed the low-to-no cost tactics: social media, incentivizing word-of-mouth (aka, referral rewards), partnerships.

I’m beginning to think there lies a lot of opportunity in some small tweaks to our UX/UI. Wishful thinking to have an “if you build it, they will come” attitude? Possibly. But sometimes the power lies in some soft changes – and how we serve up the offering.

I’m going to talk to Jess and Frank tomorrow, bounce around some of these new ideas floating around in my head.

What’s your favorite Dabble story?
Hmmm. Can I only share one?

A former boss of mine encouraged us to keep a “damn, I’m good” file. For those particularly down days, turning to a log of all the moments you’re proud of can be an effective thing to combat the blues. Now, answering this question, I wish I had the same for Dabble. Not because I need to combat the blues right now, but capturing the awesome moments is important. (I never was good at keeping a journal.)

I think an unbeatable moment is our launch day. The thrill of installing Chartbeat (I think it was called) and watching the number of people live on the site. 48! 162! I can’t remember how how it climbed, but all that mattered within our first few hours was that people were actually consuming this product. The first two people that signed up for classes were my friends. But then, Jess and I would look at each other and ask, “do you know [so-and-so]?” “No?” “Yay!”

About a month later, we won the People’s Choice Award at TechWeek Chicago. I’ve always tended to think award shows are silly, that we get too caught up with ribbons and honors, and it’s often gratuitous. This particular honor, though, was so meaningful. People’s Choice. Not some kind of panel of judges bestowing an exclusive honor. Dabble is intended to be for the people, by the people, and to be recognized for that was awesome.


Jess Lybeck

How do you feel about the project?
I feel good. I feel anxious, like I just want our ideas to be out in the world already. I spoke with a teacher today about our next move – she was excited, but I realize that telling the story behind our decision is going to be just as important as our decision. Helping our users understand the type of organization we hope to become and partnering with teachers that we believe are aligned in that vision.

The next chapter is going to be fun – but we have a lot of things to figure out. There are only 8 days left in the project. That’s absolutely nuts. I feel like we’re in a totally different place both business-wise and mentally than we were just 20 days ago. It’s amazing how shaking things up gives you a different perspective.

What’s the plan?
Almost done with fee change, it’s all the little stuff now. We’re making a big change for our users, so we need to make the user experience and our help documentation is crystal clear to help prevent any confusion. So it’s going through every page of the site with a fine-toothed comb to smooth over any kinks with the new change. Then it’s on to more marketing focused ideas.

What’s your favorite Dabble story?
Ugh, this is hard. There’s too many! I’m going to share two …

My favorite team story is about our first office. After launching, we had been working from home for a few months, but had started to grow the team (on a volunteer basis) and it got old to work in our living rooms. We found a tiny (12 x 10ft) office in warehouse in the West Loop of Chicago that had artists & band practice space, unfinished floors, a table we made from a sheet of plywood and a “conference room” which was really the fire escape landing. We crammed 6 people in there on some days. It was cozy. It was dusty. We played pictionary on the walls and shared some amazing times there. Most importantly we built a scrappy company culture we were proud of.

My favorite class story was the first class ever in Chicago. It was Spanish 101. There were 4 people who signed up (myself & my fiance included). I remember riding my bike there with a flurry of excitement. Wondering … how would the class go? Who would show up? What would it be like? Class got started and we all introduced ourselves (in broken Spanish). The instructor blew us away with humor, wit & lots of useful information. I remember looking around the room thinking “holy crap, these people are here because of what we built” and yet it felt totally normal. It felt like Dabble was something that had been around for ages. Dabble was the silent, silent partner behind people coming together in person to improve themselves. I walked away from class with a buzz. A buzz that I get from every class I’ve ever taken – one of new connections & possibility.

Odds & Ends
I attended the Denver Startup Week luncheon yesterday and listened to some inspiring speakers. I walked away more inspired than when I walked in. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be part of this community of risk takers, doers and collaborators. I had so much in common and so much fun with the people around me. There was energy. As I walked back to my car, I saw a few people heading back from lunch to their 9-5 jobs with heads held low, no smile – just blankness. I remember that feeling. It makes me feel luckier than ever to be doing what I’m doing.


We plan on answering different questions every day. Submit a question you’d like answered by emailing 30daysofhonesty (at) dabble.co.

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