Gibbon Launches A Different Kind Of Education Startup, With User-Generated Learning Playlists For All

There’s a lot of terrific content on the web in the form of one-off blog posts and DIY guides from working designers and programmers, but the question is always how to find the best, and how to make sense of content that comes from a variety of disparate sources. Gibbon is a new startup out of the Netherlands, formed when a design and development agency decided to turn their attention to a side project full-time, and it features curated learning playlists to help anyone teach themselves just about anything.

“We [the founding team of Gibbon] are all self-educated, and we learned from posts shared on the web, including blog posts, videos tutorials and things,” explained Gibbon CEO and co-founder Wouter de Bres. “We came to the point where beginning designers and programmers started to ask us what they should read and watch to become a programmer or a designer, and for us that was the point at which we thought we should have a platform to facilitate this.”

On Gibbon, users sign up and then collect articles, links, videos or whatever else from the web, and then share those resources out. Some sample playlists available on the site right now (it’s been running for three months in private beta, so there’s a decent library already on day one of the public launch) include “Becoming a better photographer,” “Learning CSS3,” “On Typography,” and “3D Printing.”

“It’s all peer-to-peer, so everyone can be a student and a teacher, and I think that’s already happening generally in the world,” de Bres explained. “You have stuff that you need to learn, and you have some stuff that you think that others should read or watch. And nowadays I think that everything you need to know or want to know is on the web, and all that’s required is just for someone to create a path for you.”

Education startups like Coursera are great, he says, but there’s more than that for us to learn from what’s available on the web, it’s just not being surfaced in the best possible way. Blog posts from working designers, for instance, relating practical experience in bite-sized installments, might be more valuable than content coming from someone who’s a full-time educator, instructor or academic, but it’s just harder to find and digest given the current systems of content organization.

Aggregation of content is nothing new: People can create their own Flipboards to replicate essentially the same thing that Gibbon provides, for example. But having a fit-for-purpose product makes discovery easier, and there’s a built-in quality metric based on the number of people who engage with those lists: More students on any one playlist means that it will rise to the top of search results.

Gibbon also has plans to monetize versus closed playlists, which it envisions being used by companies to offer up training materials specific to different departments. De Bres says that they’ve already had potential customers inquire about this kind of thing, in fact, and hopes to roll those out by January or February of next year. The startup began as a bootstrapped effort when the entire team from Bread & Pepper, the design company from which it was founded, decided to focus on it full-time, but it has recently secured funding from a couple of seed investors, and an accelerator based in the Netherlands called Rockstart.

DIY learning can take many forms, but for self-starters just looking for a tool that’s more directed than Google, Gibbon seems very promising in concept. A way to more overtly rate content would greatly benefit the product, I think, but it’s a promising start for a young European startup.