Ever since Jordan Scott was a little girl, she was an entrepreneur. “I had a bookstore at the top of my driveway, which was essentially just taking books from my house, including my dad's law textbooks, and accosting people as they drove or ran by. I loved having my store. And I could sit up there all day long,” she recalls.
Scott’s determination didn’t end there. She was a babysitter, and worked at a clothing store and in an office doing data entry—then, moved to New York City to attend NYU. There, she interned at Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and NBC, and eventually landed at CBS Mornings as a news associate after graduation. An impressive resumé for anyone in their early 20s.
“I got my dream job, but I wasn’t satisfied. I didn’t feel like I was working towards something,” recalls 28-year-old Scott. She thought to herself: “I should at least try and fail. And then come back to this if it doesn’t work.” Scott didn’t know it at the time, but she would become the founder and CEO of a successful tech company called Cobble that boasts an audience of over 100,000, a $3.3 million round of funding and write-ups in Forbes and The New York Times.
Cobble is a social planning and decisioning app. You start by finding curated ideas—from cool restaurants to local events and unique experiences—and then send them to friends, family or a significant other to vote on. It’s designed to end decision fatigue, getting you and your people out of the group chat and into the real world.
The first iteration of Cobble was called a business called idk tonight. It was a paid concierge service where you filled out a quiz and got curated plans back—like the middle ground between a high-end concierge and Yelp. “Nobody wanted to pay for that—or even use it,” says Scott. “I immediately made it free and realized that 99 percent of the requests were for date nights.” Then, idk tonight turned into a content platform for couples where it would curate date nights for you. That’s where the business grew its audience, but Scott wasn’t making any money.
Then, Scott had her “ah-ha” moment. “There was all this incredible content about what to do, but no technology focused on helping the decision get made,” she says. “I wanted to create something that combined great, curated content with social decisioning tools.”
Since its launch in June 2020, Cobble has expanded to seven cities in the United States—NY, LA, Atlanta, Miami, Austin, Dallas and Chicago—and is about to raise its next round of funding.
We caught up with Scott over Zoom to talk more about her biggest business lessons, whether or not she thinks she’s successful and her fave women-owned restaurants in NYC.
What were the biggest lessons you learned from starting Cobble?
“It's not going to work the first time or the second time or the third time or the 90th time. But it will incrementally get better. We started with zero people knowing the word, ‘Cobble.’ And now there's 100,000+ people who know it. That's been a slow climb. It's really just an exercise in resilience. I think that the most important thing about being a founder is just getting up and getting in your chair. When I was raising our first round of capital for Cobble, I didn’t care how big Cobble got, I was just not going to let it fail. [I told myself that] I'll just keep pivoting until it is working and successful. The reason that 99 percent of startups fail is because people just don't hold on. But you don't know when you're gonna make that one right choice.”
What would you do differently next time?
“When building a product, you should start with the absolute smallest thing that you can think of to build to test the concept. Is this something worth actually building? It's called an MVP, the minimum viable product. The very first version of Cobble, we probably built three times as much as we needed to build.”
What are some of your favorite women-owned restaurants in NYC right now?
Soothr (Kittiya Mokkarat)
The low-down: “This is truly my favorite Thai restaurant in New York. Not only is the space stunning, but the food is dynamite. The drinks are so beautiful and cool, too.”
What to order: Ba Mii Pu Moo Dang, dry egg noodles with jumbo lump crab meat, lime, chili, peanuts and roasted pork.
Settepani (Leah and Bilena Settepani)
The low-down: “It's a southern Italian restaurant and bakery in Harlem owned by the Settepani family. I went to a pasta-making class there. They host really fun events as well as just being a beautiful restaurant.”
What to order: Their panettone or cannoli.
Cafe Mogador (Rivka Orlin)
The low-down: A laidback and cozy Moroccan restaurant in Williamsburg.
What to order: “I always love the hummus and pickles, and the Greek salad is just fantastic [editor’s note: they have homemade za’atar croutons].”
How would you define success?
“Feeling proud of what you've built. And that pride can only come from you. You can't get external validation. You need to feel proud of your business, or of what you made, especially because sometimes it takes a long time to get validation from users or customers. How can you figure out from day one, how to be proud of yourself and of what you built or what you're starting to build?”
Do you consider yourself successful?
“I feel successful when I think about how I got these human beings to work for Cobble when they could do anything in the world, and they're choosing to be here with me trying to make this vision a reality. I'm proud that we have people opening the app every day and looking at it and using it and experiencing the world because of it. I'm proud that we have failed and learned and become better and figured shit out.”
What's next for you personally and professionally?
“I'd love to open a bookstore or write a book… you know, something creative. I'd love to do something different than tech one day, but I'm sure it can never really get away from me. And then personally, I have a one-year-old daughter. I can't wait to see who she is. I am building the business for her. Maybe it's going to be a smashing success. Maybe not. But at least she’ll see that I tried."
What's next for Cobble?
“We’re always launching new cities. We just rolled out a new feature where you can use Cobble anywhere by adding in your own options—without having to be in one of our main cities. Hopefully this leads to scaling more quickly. We're always adding new content for you to make great decisions on. One day, I would like for us to have millions of users and for everyone to be ‘Cobbling’ and for that to become a verb. I'll always keep rooting for that.”
And now onto Rapid Fire… Who are you inspired by?
“My best friend. She is an actor, a performer and a singer, and she is so wildly talented.”
How do you unwind at the end of a long day?
“I wanted to do something tactical and creative, so I got a puzzle.”
How many unread emails do you have?
“I am neurotic about my work emails, so every day, I have no unread emails.”
What are some qualities you look for in an employee?
“I look for that grittiness and willingness to learn. People who are passionate, fiery—I want people to care about what they’re doing.”
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“My dad actually told me this. ‘What is the best thing for my business?’ Not what sounds the best, not what looks the best, not what this person would like to see...”
Worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“That I should calm down a little bit—like relax and not be as excited, or loud, or big.”
What does “girlboss” mean to you?
“Girlbosses are so unequivocally themselves, willing to let their uniqueness and power shine through and feed other people. They are leaders of everyone around them, and they lift other people up with their authenticity.”
We teamed up with Cobble to bring you an exciting networking event in New York City, hosted at a woman-owned restaurant of your choice! Learn more and cast your vote here.