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Dabblers unite at dabble.co.

Dabble into the potentially exciting unknown


Always wanted to play an instrument or run a marathon or further a business idea but haven't gotten around to doing it? You're not alone. Starting a new hobby or learning a new skill is a big commitment and most people just don't have the time or the energy. With this in mind, a new website, dabble.co, allows Milwaukee residents to try one-time classes to decide if it's something they want to pursue further.

Some of the classes that will be offered on or after Feb. 1 in the Brew City area include an introduction to WordPress, swing dancing, digital audio recording, marathon running, ceramics, beekeeping, dog manners, entrepreneurship, photo restoration, Brazilian capoeira, home brewing, bicycle maintenance, snowboarding, Twitter, woodcutting and more.

The classes cost $20 each and are taught by everyday local experts. For example, a passionate baker might not work in or own a bakery, but he or she can still teach a class if they demonstrate enough skill. For some, Dabble helps build credibility in the field and make extra cash.

"Some of our most successful teachers have full-time jobs and are using Dabble as a way to make a bit of extra money teaching classes in subjects they love," says co-founder Jessica Lybeck.

To find teachers, Dabble did social media outreach to find "cool people doing cool things in Milwaukee." The response was great. Dabble is currently recruiting Class Scouts to help the group find more teachers and hosts in the Milwaukee area. Other teachers found the website after hearing about it word of mouth.

Teachers make $10 for every $20 ticket sold. Dabble covers the cost of payment processing and all of the administration aspects of setting up a class. The teachers have to provide their own space.

Business owners – whether they currently offer classes or not – can list their class, share their expertise and gain exposure to more potential customers. "It's also a great way for businesses to create exposure and drive traffic to their store," says Lybeck.

Lybeck started Dabble because she and co-founder Erin Hopmann were busy with work, friends and family but they still had a "bucket list" of interests they wanted to explore.

"Dabble was our answer: one-time classes that give you a great introduction to a topic without a big commitment of time or money," she says. "Dabble is a vehicle to shake up your routine, meet new people and learn something new and exciting that you might not otherwise encounter."

Dabble launched in Chicago on May 23, 2011, and Milwaukee is the first new market for Dabble. Lybeck is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and says she wanted to bring Dabble to Milwaukee ever since the company launched.

"There are so many innovative people doing great things in the area," says Lybeck. "I can't wait to see how Dabble fits within Milwaukee's thriving creative and entrepreneurial community."

From now until Feb. 1, Dabble is running a "buy one, bring a friend free" promotion for all classes in Milwaukee. Many people feel more inspired to try something new if they do it with a another person.

"This deal will make it easier to sign up with a friend," says Lybeck. "We're new in town and want to ensure more people in Milwaukee can join the fun."

Lybeck hopes to start Dabble communities in many other cities, including Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis, Houston, New York and more. (Go to the website to find out how to launch Dabble in another city).

Lybeck says helping people push themselves beyond their comfort zones is another reason why she wanted to start Dabble.

"Whether it be checking out a new neighborhood, meeting new people or attending a class on a topic you never thought you'd try, these activities help you get 'unstuck' and motivate you to make a positive change in your life," she says. "It's amazing what you can do with a few hours of time that typically fall in between the cracks of work and home. Dabble helps get the most out of the 'cracks' of time with fun and learning in your community."

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