Ryan Afflitto: Learning by Doing Is 15X More Effective Than Traditional Methods Like Reading or Lectures

Learning by doing is 15x more effective than traditional methods like reading or lectures. Creation Crate is an at-home learning solution that prepares people for the jobs of tomorrow with education packed hands-on projects.

Tweens, teens, and adults can learn electronics, coding, engineering, and more with fun projects delivered right to their door. Unlike other STEM projects, Creation Crate’s projects get progressively more challenging as you unlock new skills.

No snap on parts here. Subscribers receive real hands-on experience with components and tools used in everyday STEM careers. Our mission is to inspire curiosity and prepare people for the STEM jobs of tomorrow.

Tell us about yourself?

Labeled with a learning disability as a child, I’ve always done things differently. I could never sit still in school. I just wanted to get up and actually DO the things grownups were trying to prepare us for. I was unengaged and spent my time on Youtube learning what I wanted to learn.

Naturally, out of college I wanted to get involved in startups. I helped start an Online marketing agency in 2015 and scaled it up to dozens of clients. This is where I fell in love with startups and honed my online marketing skills.

I knew one day I wanted to start a company but figured I could sharpen my skills on other’s people budget while I learned the landscape. In 2016 I met the founder of Creation Crate Chris Gatbonton when he became a new client of mine.

At the time it was just Chris and he just launched Creation Crate with $150 investment, a shotty landing page, and an idea that that traditional school system is broken and there was a more effective way to learn the skills you ACTUALLY needed.

I resonated with this deeply. Like a magnetic force I was pulled to this mission and wanted this to be part of my life’s work. I told Chris I would walk away from the growing online marketing agency I helped start to go in full time as co-founder and chief marketing officer for Creation Crate.

Wanting to change an archaic and broken system with a more effective solution is what drew me into education. I am not an educator.

But I am passionate about learning and I think often the “outsiders” are the ones that break the rules and create the impossible because they aren’t handcuffed by imaginary boundaries. That challenge excited me and made me even more interested in getting into this line of work.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

“This isn’t real and won’t last forever. Prioritize return over sales growth.”

2020-2021 we saw money flood the system and startups got spoiled. Many startups spent like crazy and prioritized scaling over return in hopes that the capital would always be there by raising another round off of their impressive sales growth.

Luckily we saw the writing on the wall a few months ago and decided to cut expenses and prioritize return over sales growth. I think startups that get funding in 2022 will be the ones with impressive return and not the startups that are burning all their cash to inflate their total sales.

If you are making more money then you are spending you literally can’t lose. Just focus on that basic principle and everything will work out.

What problem does your business solve?

Traditional learning methods are boring and un-engaging. Schools have trouble keeping up with changing technology and as a result have trouble preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.

You may try an online course but these are almost as boring as the lessons in school and lead to a high drop off rate. If you try to teach yourself these skills you often spend hours searching the web and end up frustrated.

Creation Crate offers an alternative learning style that focuses on STEM skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. Because our projects come with an online course, subscribers receive a mix of learning styles wrapped into one experience.

We have a higher retention rate and course completion rate compared to other passive learning techniques like readings or lectures.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

All of us here at Creation Crate had a bad experience in school. We were un-engaged and questioned if what we were learning would actually be useful in the real world.

There is a lot of growth in the online DIY/ at-home learning community and demand for something educational and hands-on. This similar situation came up time and time again…

  • Parents that want to spark their child’s curiosity for a future in technology
  • Homeschoolers who want to include STEM in their curriculum but don’t know where to start
  • Adults looking for an interesting new hands-on hobby

All these situations circled around the fact that all the options out there were boring, simplified, or lacked the educational value to answer “why” is this happening.

What is your magic sauce?

Creation Crate is a learning solution. NOT a toy. Most stem projects are “toys” and lack any type of challenge or education. Even if they have instructions, they read like you are putting together Ikea furniture. Nothing had educational value in it.

Creation Crate combines hands-on projects, online lessons, and cutting edge STEM skills to create a learning experience that is like no other. It’s not a “random project of the month club”.

Our subscription follows a progressive learning experience where the projects get more challenging as you unlock new skills. It’s the perfect balance of challenge and simplicity to make for an engaging and stress free learning experience.

Forget the snap on parts. Creation Crate subscribers get real hands-on experience with tools and components used in everyday STEM careers.

There aren’t many solutions for teens and adults. Bottlerockets? You want to build something GREAT not lame! Creation Crate is perfect for tweens, teens, and adults because it is challenging and goes in depth into how it all works.

To top it all off… our projects are awesome. You can build bluetooth speaker, weather stations, laser tripwires, and even a bio-mechanically controlled mech leg.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We are constantly asking subscribers what they want to learn next and using that feedback to extend our course catalogue. We are identifying cutting edge subjects in need of more workers and developing partnerships with industry leaders to launch hands-on courses in these subjects.

Robotics, Quantum, Drones, Crypto is an example of the type of fields we are exploring partnerships in. In the next 5 years I see us 10x our course offerings and exploring more community driven (web3 styled) features that incentivizes our community to help each other learn and allows for the governance/input of new courses being launched.

If we can add accreditation capability to the course we can connect subscribers with employers and offer proof of what the subscriber has built and learned.

This would complete the full circle from 1. exploring your curiosity 2. unlocking new skills 3. using new skills to fill an empty STEM job

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

We have bootstrapped since 2016 with minimal investment and showed consistent growth. In the past six months we have had the realization that the bootstrapping approach is okay for some but for our current opportunity we are hurting ourselves by not raising funds.

Raising funds (especially in this market) is a challenge. Starting the process though has lead to a lot of great opportunities that might not have existed if we didn’t make this perspective shift on fundraising.

On the marketing end, the Facebook IOS update required a course correction on what we were spending money on. This forced us to test different things that actually resulted in better return than Facebook.

I think the lesson there is when you are hit with a big change don’t be afraid to hit the brakes and test new things. Even when there isn’t a big change. You should always be testing and finding new options so you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We are looking to connect with startups, organizations, or influencers interested in collaborating with us. You can email [email protected] to connect and learn about all the different ways we can partner together.

If you are an investor and want to learn more about our mission and fundraising plans you can also reach out to [email protected] to be connected to the founders.

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