Erin Hopmann

How are you feeling about the project today?
Really good. The response to what we’re tackling after just one day was almost shockingly positive. I’m facing an inbox full of supportive, thoughtful emails with suggestions, stories of the role Dabble has played in people’s lives, and a lot of incredulous people. It’s overwhelming! (In a good way.)

It’s clear that very few of our users were aware that this is the situation we’re in. It occurred to me that it’s kinda like that feeling you get when a favorite restaurant suddenly closes up shop. You, the patron, typically have zero insight into the goings-on behind the scenes, so the place that reliably served up your favorite fettucini alfredo is suddenly… gone? You almost feel cheated, like, “why did someone not give me advanced warning?”

I digress, but I think adopting “it takes a village” is something that more businesses should do. Ask for help, come clean about struggles (that it’s clear SO many others in our shoes are facing). What’s the worst that can happen? (A question Jess and I posed to ourselves before embarking on 30 Days.)

If the ideas, support, and messages continue in the way they have in the past 12 hours throughout the remainder of these 29 days, I’m pumped for what’s to come.

What’s the plan?
One thing Jess and I have discussed is that this is still a side project to Dabble. Very related, but it’s important that we not get too distracted by it. The reality is, hugs and words of support are great for warm fuzzies and to hopefully pave the way for more start-ups to feel compelled to share their struggles. BUT, hugs and kind words don’t ring the register. (Please keep sending them, though… they’re incredibly powerful. 🙂

I’d like to clarify something, prompted by a question posed tonight: this isn’t about Jess and me giving up, throwing up our arms and saying, “these last 30 days, we’ll just have fun journaling… in a very public way.” The idea that Dabble is already done, and we’re just going out by blogging is incorrect and not our intention.

This is about having an open dialogue, tapping into the collective power of people to say, how might we solve some of the problems we’re facing with Dabble? Putting some real experiments into action and seeing what we find out.

Is changing the course of Dabble possible in 30 days?
I think putting the wheels in motion for change is possible. We’re realistic in that we don’t expect a miracle. (If one of you knows how to turn water into wine, though, I’m all ears.) But I’m feeling empowered by the fact that exposing our not-so-pretty situation is freeing, enabling us to hopefully tap into you all in a more scrappy way. Asking for forgiveness because small tweaks or testing something on the site may not be the prettiest (because our rockstar developer is now less-than-part-time). And know that it’ll be ok.

How much do you actually Dabble?
Not nearly as much as I’d like. (And I have a hunch that 99% of people would agree… whether or not they know of Dabble or simply recognize that they’re not pursuing side interests as much as they’d like.)

And herein lies one of our issues. We created Dabble because it was a personal pain point for the both of us: What happened to all the interests we had? Why did they fall to the wayside? Oh, because typically commitment to interests required a significant commitment of time and money. Voila! Dabble.

Except: life DOES get in the way, and we make excuses for why we can’t fit in a two-hour class tomorrow night after work. We’re up against the same challenges that gyms face, people. You know it’s good for you, but why can’t you get yourself to commit? Time, schime. We can certainly find a few hours of extra time in our week to explore a new interest.

I wish we could bottle the feeling that comes from being in and leaving a Dabble class. It’s almost euphoric. It feels so good to connect with other people in what’s typically a pretty intimate, out-of-the-ordinary experience.

I just got it: bottle up the Dabble experience and sell it as a drug?

Could Dabble really die in 30 days?
The short answer – no. Unless something totally catastrophic happens. But a lot is really positive, and we’re focused on that.

The longer answer is that time is ticking for us to make a few critical decisions about Dabble. In absence of more money in the bank, we will have to figure out how to sustain ourselves personally. This is often a forgotten part of the conversation when trying to build a start-up. “How about you try x?” or “Just keep doing y and then focus on this one metric, and then see where you are.” When I’ve been asked the question, “How are you doing personally?”, it’s been so meaningful. Yes, it’s not business. But in the start-up world, you’re so intricately tied to your business, how can your business possibly be successful if you’re worried 24/7 about when your next paycheck will come?

So, we’re trying to weigh our options as it relates to recognizing that Dabble may need to become a split focus for us – and anticipating this possibility, what changes do we need to make?


Jess Lybeck

How are you feeling about the project today?

Today was nerve wracking. We sent out the email announcing this project to 15,000 people midday. All morning I had this gnawing anticipation in my belly – so many unknowns. We focused so much on getting the project started we didn’t spend enough time playing out the different scenarios of what could happen – which is maybe good. We’re in our heads enough already.

We’ve had a flood of emails, tweets & messages from dabblers, investors, family & friends in the last 24 hours. 98% positive. Mostly proud – some unsure, a few pissed off, some trying to protect us from what might happen. The risk is nothing new for us – the only different thing about this is that we’re putting ourselves in the public square to be stoned or applauded.

It’s amazing to do a simple thing – be honest – and see the ripple effect it has on people I’ve never personally met. The emails from colleagues & dabblers really mean a lot to me.

What’s the plan?
We’re kicking off the collaborative part of the experiment in a big way. We’ve received offers for coaching, consulting, financial modelling, people interested in getting involved. We’ve received dozens (hundreds?) of ideas on how to move forward. We’re setting meetings, remaining open to change and solidifying some pretty kick-ass action plans for the next 30 days. It’s going to be good.

Is changing the course of Dabble possible in 30 days?
I think change is possible in 30 days. But we need to focus – or not?

A constant struggle we face is the decision of where to focus our energy – limited team, limited budget. What we’re doing isn’t working, so we need to experiment more (or “pivot” to use the startup world’s most hated term).

Here’s the things we’ve tried to date > Private Classes, Membership, Multi-Session Series, Corporate Sponsorship, Referral Programs, Monthly Community Events, Premium / Notables Classes

Here’s some things we’ve thought of, but aren’t sure they are right for Dabble > Online classes, Daily Deals sites, Kids Classes, Senior Classes, Surprise Membership, Franchise, White-label Platform

There’s more where that came from – and definitely some awesome ideas that came out of today that we’re still chewing on.

We’re up for trying new things within the 30 days (that’s why we’re here) and working our asses off. But also don’t want to run around trying 12 things, risk spreading ourselves too thin and not doing anything well. The next 30 days will probably need to be a balance of strengthening the old while trying the new.

How much do you actually Dabble?
I actually don’t take classes enough – probably one or two classes a month? I always feel empowered after walking out of a class. But it’s funny how working on Dabble has left me less time to actually Dabble. It’s hard to change the habit of working too much.

Making time for Dabbling requires a change in behavior. Our mission from the very start has been to help people get out and try something new – get off the couch, get off their computers and engage in a new and interesting way.

Problem is, we’re all lazy (myself included) – we forget about all the amazing “new” things that we could be doing, learning & growing. Instead we default to what’s easy – the same restaurant, the same running route, the same television show. Does it make us happy? Not really. Does it make us comfortable? For sure.

Dabble is trying to strike a chord with discomfort. It’s not the easy route. It’s more of a full-on war against the comfort of the familiar.

It’s a lofty goal, but so important. I personally believe we need more reality and less fucking reality TV in the world. We need to take risks. To feel like we’re moving forward, not stagnating. I totally, totally believe as a generation – as a society, we need to win this war.

But are we up against too much as a company with two pennies to rub together? Is there a point where we need to sacrifice our mission for the sake of revenue? Or is there another way?

Could Dabble really die in 30 days?

We heard this question a lot today. The short answer? No.

The long answer is that dying and ceasing to exist entirely are two different things. We’re making enough money right now to support one person (the all powerful, all knowing Frank – Director of Operations) and that one person can “run” Dabble with no problem. We think we can survive to the point where we can still run classes.

But how long could we subsist in this way?

One problem with this scenario is that we’re not really paying our glorious Frank what he deserves. He’s almost finished with his MBA, he’s talented as all hell. Would he want to continue working with Dabble in this way? I wouldn’t.

Or what about Erin & I? We love Dabble, but if we’re not paying ourselves we’ll need to find other ways to support ourselves financially. Get a job as a barista? Do more consulting? How fulfilling will it be to work on Dabble on the side? To not give Dabble the energy & attention it deserves?

So Dabble could die – but that death would be one of malnourishment, not a shot to the head at the end of 30 days. We’re doing everything we can to make sure Dabble doesn’t starve.


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

Get Notified by email when we post next.[mc4wp-form]

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49 responses to “Day Two”

  1. Victor says:

    This is a very neat idea! Transparency is nice. If there is anything I can do besides spreading the word, let me know.

    Ceasing to exist…

  2. Nathalie says:

    I’ve loved the idea of Dabble and have wanted to do some of the cooking classes and the wine classes and have had scheduling conflicts. Since yesterday when I read Day One of your blog – I signed myself and my wife up for a class and posted about Dabble on my FB page. What else can we do??? Tell us/me.

  3. Oz du Soleil says:

    Thanks for doing this. I appreciate the candor and ultra-transparency for 2 reasons.

    1. I’d like to see Dabble continue in it’s mission
    2. I recently had to verbalize my own concerns, accept the reality, and do something massively different.

    One thing I want to say about Dabble is that it exposed me to a passion that I didn’t know was waiting to be expressed. And through that, some people have gotten confidence with Excel, they look like superstars in front of their bosses, their wasting less time and getting better accuracy with their data … and yes, some people have been freaked out by Excel’s potential.

    So, I’m waiting to hear your requests and pleas; and I’ll be following the 30 days. Let’s do this!

  4. Noelle says:

    I agree, Frank’s pretty cool, and super helpful. Whenev I need some help he writes back immediately. Thanks, Frank!

  5. Tory Lynne Gray says:

    Erin’s comment about gyms made me think – what if you only paid a gym each time you went the gym? Wouldn’t *many* of them go out of business? I mean, don’t most gym memberships get bought for New Years and get swiftly forgotten when the rush of your resolutions to “get in shape now!” wear off?

    In that light, I’m going to state the obvious – a subscription model. Perhaps if people could pay for different package levels you’d get more ongoing revenue. Pay, say, $30 a month for access to one Dabble class a month, $55 for 2, etc.

    And once you’ve spent the money, there’s that psychological “Hey, better sign up for that Dabble class this month or my money is wasted!” pressure to actually DO something that most people already want to do.

    The extra nudge we all need, right?

  6. Ilona says:

    Again, your authenticity and honesty puts one to shame – this is soooooooo refreshing. Ok I am not going to say “hang in there” I know how useless that is. But here a few practical observations, albeit the developer would have to put in a few more hours

    Dabble is not multi-browser platform friendly, no ipad and phone app.

    When someone told me about dabble, i kept going to dabble.com and ended up in someone’s ftp so I did not think in the beginning that this was a serious site at all until the person who told me insisted on it.

    Finally, I would wanna pay Frank all he is worth as well – what a phenomenal guy – all interactions with him have been amazing!

  7. Ilona says:


    please i think kids classes and also multi day classes are completely suitable for the platform. why should kids not want to dabble and why can’t you dabble for days on end.

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