Sam started his online marketplace for local experiences, Hobblit, in July 2015. The idea for the platform was sparked when he was at a conference in Iceland and had the opportunity to take pictures of wild horses in all their glory. After the trip, anxious to review what he thought would be amazing photos, his excitement soon turned to disappointment. All his photos were blurry. Wanting to improve upon his photography skills, he sought out classes and found that they were too expensive for someone with a casual interest in the subject. So, he set out to create a Meetup group with a purpose. He wanted to empower others to learn creative skills like glassblowing and coffee art, while making the courses easily accessible to anyone.
Business Support & Guidance
Sam came to us last fall, mainly because he wanted to pick someone’s brain about his ideas. Starting a business can be a lonely venture, but our Calgary team offered Sam non-judgmental advice and helped him to explore different angles for his business. We also connected him to [the now re-vamped] Alberta Venture magazine, and he is profiled in their May “Lunch With” column. He has also found support from other entrepreneurial service providers in Calgary including Innovate Calgary and Startup Calgary.
The Beginning Stages: Understanding Your Customers
For any business, it is important to talk to your customers and understand who they are. Sam found it a challenge to narrowly define his customer demographic, as he saw that people of all ages enjoy the learning experiences offered on Hobblit. He then started talking to groups of people and asking them:
“If you could learn anything, what would you want to do?”
From there, he built a platform to empower individuals to express their passions for various activities by teaching others. Each experience is offered by a local expert, and while being inexpensive, boasts both social and learning aspects.
Successes & Pieces of Advice
Sam believes his biggest success to date is the Hobblit team that he has assembled. Starting alone less than a year ago, he is now part of a team of six entrepreneurial minds. He says that it is a blast to work with people just as passionate about the idea as he is, as he witnesses first hand how this passion drives them.
As with any new business venture, Sam has had some challenges along the way, but through those he has gained valuable insight and has some nuggets of knowledge for other entrepreneurs:
- Oftentimes there are too many decisions to make and you’ll never get an answer. Choose a direction, bolt down, and do something.
- Talk to as many other entrepreneurs as possible because they will keep your motivation up and show you that you aren’t the only one experiencing troubles.
Looking Towards the Future
Sam and his team have some big plans for the future. This year he plans to raise funds and expand Hobblit from Calgary across Canada, and in 2017 they will start looking at the US market.
If you’re looking to host or participate in a workshop, connect with Hobblit on social media!