NewCraft Rethinks Workforce Training, Becomes First Fort Worth Startup Accepted into Y Combinator
A self-described “average guy” from Fort Worth, Cam Sadler’s love of technology and teaching has led him down his own unique path of entrepreneurship. He was in high school when he launched his first business, a blog where he reported on local athletes. He went on to play sports himself in college, and took a job afterwards as an IT Project Manager for a small local business. It would be in this first job that Cam would realize that he “love[d] teaching people about new tools and new technology,” always bringing in new ideas to help the business grow. He realized his skill set could be more valuable in a formal teaching setting, so he moved onto to do just that at Fort Worth ISD.
While teaching, the entrepreneurial bug bit him again. As he worked with and around high school students, he became very aware of a common trend and piece of feedback constantly received from teachers, college professors, and hiring managers outside of a school setting: that high school kids were not workforce ready. Since there was a wealth of resources online for training as it related to many entry level jobs and beyond, Cam helped create GF17, a “school” where students could come to together as a community and take online classes together, versus at home by themselves where they didn’t have support or context and couldn’t ask questions.
While this was an effective solution for a time, Cam noticed that there was still a gap in what was available in terms of content from these sources, compared to the hands-on learning that freelancers and employees needed for the skills necessary in a real-life work environment. Out of this realization NewCraft was born, and with his technical co-founder Nigel Gilbert they began working on a platform that could help close this gap.
NewCraft itself is a way for companies to turn screen recordings into gamified walkthroughs that their employees can use for training and onboarding. The team originally launched their MVP in August of 2017 on Product Hunt, where it became an overnight success, listing at #2 on the website the following morning. Now with a customer base of several hundred users, they began to further flesh out the ideas and the product that would land them a place in the Y Combinator class the following December, and the first startup there to represent Fort Worth, TX.
Cam describes the program as “the most intense time of my life,” working alongside 100+ other startups all at different stages of their companies. They not only had the opportunity to hear from the founders of companies such as Stripe and AirBnB on their entrepreneurial journeys, but walked away with tangible outcomes: knowledge gained through the mentorship, guidance and resources offered to them, and enough money raised to extend their runway by two years.
During their time at Y Combinator, their business had continued to grow. While the original model of NewCraft had focused on connecting freelancers with bigger contractors by providing the training they needed to subcontract work, they realized that an enterprise approach would make the most sense long term for their company. Now they are working to partner with businesses who can either record their own videos to use internally for training, or go to the NewCraft marketplace to request or purchase training videos for specific tasks/implementations, such as migrating from an older technology to a newer one, or setting up or implementing a new system. When it comes to verifying and maintaining the quality of the videos and content presented, it’s currently a mixture of Nigel and computer vision to help maintain the integrity of their marketplace offerings. The team is excited about the runway they have to continue polishing and perfecting their product, and while they’re currently in a small beta, they plan to launch publicly by the end of 2018.
Cam’s advice to other startups considering Y Combinator? “Everyone should apply if you’re thinking about it,” he said, because you never know if your idea is good enough to get accepted. Even if it’s not fully fleshed out, you can still apply and the advice you’ll get during the interview process is “like free consulting.” When it comes to startups in general, his advice echoes that of the program itself – just launch your product. WIth an MVP, you can begin to collect customer feedback and learn about your product and how people are using it, which can only help you improve and iterate towards a better solution. Cam is even offering to review Y Combinator applications for any local DFW startups considering the program. “I just want to help people,” he said.