Venture and Design Strategy for Dabble

Helping a learning-focused startup redefine its service, grow its community, and sustain engagement

“Learn something new, shake up your routine, and meet new people—starting at just $20!” That’s the promise of Dabble, a digital marketplace launched in 2011 that helps curious people discover, teach, or host classes. Wanting to reconnect people with their passions and democratize learning, Dabble offers classes ranging from Creative Writing to Canning 101 in Chicago, Denver, and Milwaukee, and plans to expand their service to San Francisco and other cities in 2013.

The Chicago-based startup was chosen to be IDEO’s second Startup-in-Residence from over 150 international applicants in the Fall of 2012. During their four-month-long residency, the Dabble team moved into a project room in our Chicago studio and worked side-by-side with a dedicated IDEO team. The goal: enhance the overall Dabble experience and inspire more long-term, sustained engagement with Dabble.

Some residency activities included diving into qualitative research, working through a series of two design sprints, mapping alternative business model options, and launching in-market prototypes on their website. The ability to live prototype new offers and services—and receive immediate feedback from Dabble’s existing customer base—was particularly inspiring and allowed team members to quickly and nimbly iterate on design ideas. These focused design bursts resulted in an enhanced service offer that unlocks the curiosity and potential of both students and teachers alike.

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Project date: 2013