While the internet’s obsession with baking sourdough bread might have stayed in 2020, we can discover newfound passions and interests every day. From baking to birdwatching, everyone needs a creative passion. But according to Hamidah Nalwoga, CEO and founder of Hobi, learning something new can be discouraging if you are going at it alone.
“I wanted to learn how to hula hoop and watched some helpful YouTube videos. But when I got stuck on particular skills or moves, there was nobody to help me,” Nalwoga recalls. Frustrating Google results only turned up overpriced in-person classes in her Boston neighborhood or oversaturated online learning platforms.
She continues, “I knew someone in Boston was experienced enough at hooping to teach me the basics… But I just had no way of finding them.”
Turning Hobbies into Connection and Community
Inspired by her own learning experience, Nalwoga set to work on a tool that connects passionate people with skilled mentors and makes taking on a new hobby fun rather than frustrating. Hobi is an app-based platform offering live and in-person classes for a wide variety of hobbies or interests.
However, it was also Nalwoga’s career as a registered nurse working in mental health that provided the true spark behind the tech-driven community.
“From a mental health perspective, hobbies can offer structure and purpose,” says Nalwoga. “Imagine if a person had a sewing or hooping class to look forward to every week. It wouldn’t just be about the class, but also the other attendees. That person would get much-needed support and mentorship.”
At the heart of Hobi’s innovative approach is its emphasis on personalized learning experiences.
Users can search for their topic of interest, such as cooking, painting, or music. The platform offers numerous options for learning new skills, including online groups and live classes.
A New Approach to Mentorship and Teaching
The platform also makes it simple for users to connect with local mentors. But mentorship isn’t limited by geographical location, opening opportunities to find experts nationwide. Flexible scheduling and various learning methods help ensure new hobbies remain fun rather than feel like a chore.
As Nalwoga explains, “The mission is really to connect people and build communities around skill sharing.”
But Hobi also helps mentors earn through their expertise. After being approved as a teacher, mentors can share their knowledge through the platform’s many learning models, such as hosting a weekly live session or connecting one-on-one with new learners for a personalized experience. Mentors earn revenue on each class or session they host, using Hobi as an all-in-one booking, scheduling, and marketing tool.
The platform was soft-launched in an MVP phase in September 2022. Less than a year later, Hobi welcomes up to 500 users per week. The team is focused on user feedback to make necessary changes before scaling further.
According to Nalwoga, Hobi will scale its development to add new functionalities and features in its next round of funding. Currently, the app is available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play. Discover a new way to connect to your favorite hobbies and interests at api.gethobi.com.