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Talking with Jessica Lybeck

Learning is Worth A Dabble

Aug. 21, 2012
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For those intrigued by the prospect of broadening their knowledge of a multitude of subjects, Dabble can provide nuanced enlightenment without the burdens of steep tuition and mounting debt. What's more, traditional colleges aren't likely to offer credit for a course such as “The Joys of Whiskey.”  Launched in May of 2011, Dabble is an on-line source that facilitates the gathering of ad hoc teachers and students at a given site for the purpose of education. The company's services pervade various cities, including Milwaukee. Co-founder Jessica Lybeck discussed Dabble in a recent interview.

How and when was the idea hatched for Dabble?

The idea was hatched in early March, 2011. My business partner and I had started a consulting company 8 months prior and we started to think we might not be in the right business. After a long heart to heart, we decided to open ourselves up to the possibility of building a product of our own.  The stroke of insight came in a brainstorm later that day. We realized a few things about ourselves. One: we had a huge bucket list of interests we wanted to pursue, everything from learning another language to brewing beer. Two: we realized that there were a ton of classes out there but that most of them were too long or too expensive for us to make the commitment.  With those two insights in hand, Dabble was born.

The way Dabble uses the Internet as a means for people to get together, socialize, and learn something seems refreshing.  As opposed to YouTube instructionals and so forth, what are the primary benefits of a more personal method of teaching?

Watching a YouTube video can help you gain knowledge, but the experience falls flat, in my opinion. There's no meaningful dialogue, no excitement from hearing experiences first-hand, no getting to know cool new people in your neighborhood. These are all great natural byproducts of taking an in-person class. It's our goal to have students walk away inspired, not just informed.

On the Dabble website, I've seen ads for Woodcut Workshop, Meditation Basics, and Tea 101. Is there a class that you find particularly interesting or out of the ordinary?

High Heels 101 was held in Chicago last fall and was definitely an "out there" class. Despite us being a bit unsure of how it would go, the class got rave reviews and several students requested an advanced class!  It's safe to say that we pride ourselves on having both traditional class topics (arts, culinary, business, technology) as well as some great weirdo topics. We curate, but also let our teachers run wild a bit. It's just more fun that way.

Is there a class that you'd most like to teach?

I've been thinking about teaching a "Launch your Startup" class. Another one I'd like to teach is a "Risk 101: Quit Your Day Job". I'm one of those "build-your-wings-after-jumping" type people and would love to help others venture away from their comfort zone.

Do you offer a class to improve Wii Bowling skills? Or should I just find a better hobby?

We don't have that class ... yet. I'll work on it.

How can those interested in Dabble best research your service?

Check out www.dabble.co and browse some of the great $20 classes coming up in Milwaukee. If you're curious about teaching, you can also find out more at www.dabble.co/teach. We love to hear from folks if they have questions or ideas at hello@dabble.co. It gives us a chance to flex our midwestern charm.


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