Former Dunbar HS Teacher Revamping Employee Training With Experiential Learning

The Y-Combinator-participating startup NewCraft will launch software simulations that stray away from typical tutorials used to learn on the job.

Cam Sadler

Cam Sadler has developed new software that could change how people learn technical job skills.

Sadler, a former Dunbar High School teacher, founded Fort Worth-based NewCraft with the philosophy that people learn best by doing. The startup is scheduled to launch the software this summer.

“Our long-term mission is to be the No. 1 place people go to learn skills for a new job, a transition, or promotion.”

Cam Sadler

NewCraft starts by giving users a mission with step-by-step directions on how to complete it. After a few tries, users can demonstrate their proficiency by completing the task without guidance. Once the task is finished, the user earns tokens and the skills are added to their portfolio.

The gamified process is rewarding and gives people a sense of accomplishment as opposed to traditional tutorial videos, which overload people with information without knowing if they retained it, Sadler said.

NewCraft

Screenshot of NewCraft dashboard. [Image courtesy of NewCraft]

“Our long-term mission is to be the No. 1 place people go to learn skills for a new job, a transition, or promotion,” Sadler said. “These are simulations that walk you step-by-step through the process. The simulations are built by the top professionals in their field.”

Cam Sadler believes NewCraft is one of the first North Texas companies to go through the Y Combinator accelerator in Mountain View, California.

NewCraft will have four types of simulations: design, front end web development, products, and digital marketing.

The private beta version launched in May with about 50 customers trying it out. The goal is to sell it to individuals. 

Sadler believes NewCraft is one of the first North Texas companies to go through the Y Combinator accelerator in Mountain View, California, though others have participated in the fellowship program.

“It was three months to focus on nothing but our product and our customers so they eliminated all the distractions that can go into startups,” Sadler said.

NewCraft

The NewCraft team. [Photo courtesy of NewCraft]

INSPIRATION FOR NEWCRAFT

The genesis for NewCraft came from his four years teaching business information systems at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth. The first thing he did when he arrived was throw out the old curriculum that relied heavily on textbooks.

Instead, he gave his students projects to complete and problems to solve, having them imagine they were executives at large corporations.

“The best way to learn PowerPoint is if you have to develop a presentation,” he said. “From there, it’s easy to learn the specifics. I saw the engagement go up.”

That learning by doing philosophy worked in the high school classrooms and he quickly learned there were gaps in the employment training industry, too. By talking to people working in the technology field, he saw how difficult it was for training tools to keep up with the latest technology.

“A lot of advice was right on time, usually it would be the exact problem that we were going through.”

Cam Sadler

He saw an opportunity to create a gamified training simulator that would disrupt the industry.

He started working on the project in July and was accepted into Y Combinator in September.

Through Y Combinator, he met the founders of Airbnb, Dropbox, and other Silicon Valley companies.

“A lot of advice was right on time, usually it would be the exact problem that we were going through,” he said.

The company is raising money now through the Y Combinator accelerator. Sadler said he’s more than halfway through a $1.7 million capital raise.

“It was more than we could have ever imagined,” Sadler said.

NewCraft

Screenshot of NewCraft platform. [Image courtesy of NewCraft]

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