From Idea To Startup, Meet Female Founder Jordan Scott | #95
Jordan Scott is a decision-making entrepreneur and the female founder and CEO of Cobble, an app designed to help people make better, faster decisions together. On this episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, Jordan shares how she trusted her gut to leave the job she thought she wanted in TV News to take a leap of faith and pursue a career as a female founder. If you have had that dream, then listen on my friend!
Jordan graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2015. She began her career as a news associate at CBS This Morning before launching her startup. Jordan took an idea for a way to bring people together while they make plans together and turned it into a blog. From the blog, she designed an app and started crowdsourcing to bring Cobble to life. To date, Jordan has raised $3.3 million in seed funding, growing Cobble to tens of thousands of users who have swiped over 2M times on curated places and experiences in-app. Cobble is quickly expanding to new cities, optimizing decision-making functionality, and more. Jordan shares how she trusted her gut to leave the job she thought she wanted in TV News to take a leap of faith and pursue a career as a female founder. Listen to Shannon and Jordan’s discussion on Episode #95 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast.
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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - Idea To Startup, Meet Female Founder Jordan Scott
Episode - #95
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Jordan Scott
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:01:12] Shannon Russell: Hello, my friend, Shannon Russell here welcoming you to a new episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast.
I am honored to have you here taking a few minutes out of your day to learn about what a second act is and how you can get there.
My mission with this podcast is to try to get you to think outside of your comfort zone and try to achieve that idea or that goal of what it is that you really want to be doing when it comes to work your career, your business, or your life. So, if you are ready to hear a story of how a woman followed her instincts and
quit her job? When she knew it was not the right fit for her?
Then you have to hear the story from my guests today
I'm talking about the inspirational Jordan Scott.
[00:02:00] This same woman then took an idea, started a blog and turned it into an app that truly brings people together. She is the founder of Cobble. Join me as Jordan walks us through how she left a prestigious new job at CBS This Morning. And instead she went on to take an idea. Turn it into reality and now she is a female founder.
She explains how she took a leap of faith and it's paying off big time. This is Jordan Scott and her second act success story.
[00:02:32] Shannon Russell: Welcome to Second Act Success Jordan. Scott, I'm so excited to be chatting with you today.
[00:02:37] Jordan Scott: Likewise. I can't wait to dive in.
[00:02:39] Shannon Russell: Let's start from the beginning. You went to NYU for journalism, and then you began your career in news. Is that right?
[00:02:46] Jordan Scott: That is very correct. Yeah.
[00:02:50] Shannon Russell: Awesome. Well, I went to school for communications and on the broadcast side, and I began a news, but shortly decided news was not for me and I got into like [00:03:00] entertainment television. So I wanna hear how your, news, beginning of your career was.
[00:03:05] Jordan Scott: I have so many questions for you too. Like how long did you make it in news before you were like, gotta go?
[00:03:10] Shannon Russell: An internship. I did an internship during college and I was like, uh, I don't know. I was like little miss positive and there was just so much negative and I was like, I don't know if I can report on this all the time.
[00:03:22] Jordan Scott: Yeah, no, it's rough. I, um, similarly and dissimilarly, I did a ton of internships, throughout college at nyu. One of the great parts about going to school in New York is that you do have access to just like the top media brands in the world. And so, I hopped around from Cosmopolitan to Refinery 29 to Yahoo.
So a lot of like digital stuff. And then my final internships before I graduated from school were at New York One, which is the classic New York City news station and NBC and I fell in love with. The news while in that internship at nbc, it was, [00:04:00] uh, basically being a liaison between Nightly News with Lester Holt and the Today Show.
It was so fun. I loved the people I was working with. And while I was there, I was offered a job at CBS, their morning show, and I was like, this seems sort of like the dream. I grew up watching the Today Show, so of course, CBS This Morning, I was like, I don't really know what this is, but it was a new revamped show.
It was Gail King, Charlie Rose, and Norah O'Donnell and it was the dream team. They were the fastest growing morning show. So it was a cool job to take, but I. It was very rough in that my hours were I started at 3:00 AM and I usually was home by 3:00 PM so I sort of was half overnight, half day, and somehow I didn't have mornings and I didn't have evenings, and it was just like a rough, half of a year.
I only made it six months. Spoiler alert. I was with my husband then boyfriend at the time, and, I remember coming home one day and just saying like, I think I need to just [00:05:00] leave this job before having anything else to fall back on. Like, I have an idea for a company, but I don't know if it's gonna work, so I'm just going to leave.
And, I couldn't even focus enough. To like look for another job. I just was like exhausted constantly and that was how I left the news.
[00:05:19] Shannon Russell: Well that's really hard because, you know, in your twenties, especially in Manhattan, at least for me, we went out seven nights a week and you're young and you're just out all the time. You probably didn't get to experience that if you had to get to bed to be up at work at three.
[00:05:33] Jordan Scott: Yeah, right. Yeah, no, I usually went to bed, I wanna say by like five or six o'clock.
[00:05:38] Shannon Russell: Were home for two hours. You had two hours every day.
[00:05:41] Jordan Scott: yeah, that was it. And it was like so disheartening. And I remember thinking like Friday when I would leave the show, like on the early side, after the show where would maybe around like noon, I would be like so happy.
It was the weekend and I always told myself you cannot have a job where you're living for the weekend. Like [00:06:00] that is. So sad that is not what you should be doing when you're 21 years old this can't be how we continue to do this stuff. So yeah, I left.
[00:06:09] Shannon Russell: And I love that you left, and I feel like that's such a 20 something thing to do is to leave with no other plan because you were probably looking at it like, okay, there are people, lifers, news lifers, that are there and they've been doing this forever, still working these hours and right.
And you're like I can't see myself doing that, so why stay?
[00:06:30] Jordan Scott: Yeah, we still like, follow each other on social. Like honestly, maybe 80% of the people I knew have left the news. But those few who have stayed, I am just like, wow. You really have put in the time, like you deserve it, whatever it is, the glory of like putting on the news like you have done it.
And I'm just glad that I figured out that it wasn't right for me. One of the big things before I left was like, I didn't want any of their jobs. That was like just another clear as [00:07:00] day sign of like, I don't wanna be the executive producer. That's the top job. So if I don't wanna do that, What am I doing here?
And that was tough. I remember when I left people were like, who poached you? Where are you going? And I was like, nobody. I'm completely jobless after I leave today.
[00:07:17] Shannon Russell: Good for you. And so then now you are not working and you're in Manhattan, one of the most expensive cities. Did your boyfriend at the time just think you were crazy? Like what was your next step? Did you have any idea?
[00:07:30] Jordan Scott: Oh my gosh. Well, yeah, a poor guy. We had just moved in together. We were like, let's split the rent on this apartment in the West Village, which we got a crazy deal on, by the way. That was like the nicest and cheapest apartment we ever lived in. But yeah, you know, I told him I had an idea for a startup.
I told him it was about, actually the original startup I started was called I D K tonight, and it was all about couples and it was all about like what couples should do out in the world together. Restaurants and bars and all kinds of cool things.
[00:07:59] Shannon Russell: Stuff that you [00:08:00] weren't able to do while you were working the news.
[00:08:02] Jordan Scott: Well, sadly Exactly. Just basically being like, I wanna do all the things I just missed out on for six months. But yeah, I remember he, didn't even blink. He was like, great. Go for it. And I did up, I took on a bunch of little side hustles. I ran social media for like, another company and I was like an operator for this other thing.
And I was actually making more money doing that, by the way, than even in my time at the news. They don't pay you anything. So between like making my own hours and working on my startup and like going to my little WeWork desk that I got and it was really fun and crazy. But ultimately, yeah, I just was.
Very happy to have been in a different world.
[00:08:40] Shannon Russell: So I D K tonight, you began as a blog. Is that right?
[00:08:43] Jordan Scott: Yes. It was a blog. It was an Instagram and I set up like a MailChimp newsletter.
[00:08:48] Shannon Russell: And how did that grow? I mean, you were probably learning a lot just trying to grow this online business, not even business at that point, you just didn't really know where it was gonna go.
[00:08:57] Jordan Scott: Yeah, it was like, what could come out of [00:09:00] this? Like could people eventually pay for these plans? I didn't really have a great idea, but I was like, let me just start by growing the audience. I feel like once I get an audience, I could monetize it. And so that's what we did. And a lot of the reason we grew, I think, by the time we launched Cobble, we were at like 40,000 Instagram followers, I wanna say.
And that was all just, Putting my face on our stories all the time and showing where we were going and just being super consistent with the posting and the different plans we were, designing. That was just constant, constant putting. Content out and we grew. And, off the back of IDK Tonight, we launched Cobble.
And Cobble is a collaborative agreement app. So you connect with your friends, your partner, whoever in the app. And then we make it really easy to make plans together. So rather than the headache of going back and forth over text forever and nothing happens, or you end up doing the same old, same old Cobble really wants to get you to the best possible.
Experience between you and, and the [00:10:00] people you wanna be with. And so, the reason I launched Cobble was because I learned from I d K tonight that there's so many great ideas out in the world, but there's nothing that actually drives the decision and like what actually drives the decision of going and doing it and taking action.
We, believe that it's a social decision and there's multiple players. And I think part of the problem that we don't do things is because we don't have a good system for bringing everyone together and getting us all to be on the same page and go and do that thing. And so that's, how Cobble was launched.
That's the tech part of what was sort of kindled, with, IDK Tonight.
[00:11:06] Shannon Russell: So you're like, okay, I wanna take this big. Girl, I wanna make an app. And what are the steps you take to actually creating this app? I'm assuming you'd had to have developers and raise money and just what were the steps to really bring it to a more mass produced audience?
I guess more people.
[00:11:25] Jordan Scott: Yeah, so the very first thing I did, which anyone can do, is I just drew out little app screens on a piece of paper. I am not an artist. I'm the farthest thing from a designer. But I was drawing little screens and then saying sort of like, from this screen to this screen to this screen.
And I just thought through the whole app all by myself. And then I was able to raise a friends and family round, which was very small, maybe like, 25 K or 50 K. And I was able to hire a designer to take my little drawings and put them into actual designs and flows, and they [00:12:00] really helped me think through how the app, could function.
And then from there we raised, another maybe 25 grand so that we could actually. Develop the app and put out a first beta version. And all of this went down right before 2020. So 2019 fall, we had a working beta. We had a signup list of like 10,000 people all from the IDK Tonight audience that were excited about what we were building with Cobble.
And we said, let's do a big. Spring launch, like that's when everybody like creeps and crawls out of New York City. You know, they're like, yes son. And we're like, let's launch at that point. And of course we know that March, whatever the hell it was, everything shut down. Nobody could go out anywhere. So we were like, Hey, so probably launching in couple weeks is not a great idea.
Let's. Expand our content, let's expand our decision making platform to what to watch and what to cook and what to do while everyone's locked down. So we very quickly expanded our content [00:13:00] offering, and just had our same decision making platform. And we released that June of 2020 was our official launch, and then we started fundraising for our seed round, and we closed that seed round in October of 2020.
That was just over $3 million. So then we hired the whole team, and now we're seven people and we're currently raising our series A. I think that was as fast as I could say that.
[00:13:21] Shannon Russell: Oh my gosh. I love all of that. I love that you were able to pivot so quickly and really release it kind of close to when you originally wanted to, but in a different way and you were able to. Raised so much. Now you have your team, and talk to me about what it was like when you were able to hire those six other people and just have this team working on this day in and day out to grow it even further.
[00:13:45] Jordan Scott: I mean, it's really a marriage with everyone, right? It's very important to remember that these. Brilliant people could work for any company, they could work for anyone. And the fact that they are choosing to work at your [00:14:00] startup means they believe in the vision. They believe it could be huge.
They know they could make more money elsewhere. Ultimately, they believe that they will make the most money or have the most sort of success with Cobble, and that's why they're here. But yeah, I most of our team has been with us from that very first. Kickoff. Our designer, our frontend engineer, our backend engineer, have all been with us from the very beginning.
But I remember before I had the team and I was working, you know, separately with the design agency and separately with the developers, I felt very lonely and like, I just wanted people who were on Cobble's team and.
Fully in Cobble's team and my husband now like, reminds me of that time and he is like, don't you remember saying like, I just feel like so alone in this. And now he's like, I, I've never heard you say that again since you, you know, launched it and were able to grow the team.
[00:14:49] Shannon Russell: truly supported now.
[00:14:51] Jordan Scott: Definitely.
[00:14:52] Shannon Russell: Is your husband a part of the business as well? Yes.
[00:14:54] Jordan Scott: No, he's not. He's likes to say that he's the number one product tester. But otherwise, he keeps [00:15:00] us afloat. He always says that, he'll take care of the floor and Cobble, you know, has the ceiling as, as high as we can go.
So That's what he always tells me, and it's very helpful to be reminded of
[00:15:10] Shannon Russell: It's just your vision, your sketches on a piece of paper just doodling, what you thought the app would look like and now it's out there. So what has the reception been, I guess, from the users?
[00:15:21] Jordan Scott: Yeah, I think that it's very unique, right? There's this expectation of like, oh, it's a what to do app. It has ideas of what to do, and then it becomes like, oh, this is here to help us actually agree with each other on what we do. It's sort of nuanced. It's. New, there isn't another app that does it yet. So it's been a lot of like educating the user of like, this is a better system and better process than the never ending group chat. In those ways, it's like an uphill battle to help change behavior. But once we see them get it and actually go through the whole flow and make plans and finalize plans, we see them come back and do it again.
So that's * the *best feedback we could get.
[00:15:56] Shannon Russell: That really is great, and I think actually maybe the pandemic [00:16:00] was good for you and time to test it in kind of a different way, and then by the time you were really ready, people were ready to get out. Let's really use this app, figure out how to socialize again, because people are still trying to figure that out
[00:16:15] Jordan Scott: Yeah, no, you bring up a great point. We've been calling this like the reemergence era and like we really believe Cobble is on the forefront of that. It's a business that is about getting you back into the world with other human beings and so we're very proud that we were sort of incubated in this.
Insane time and that we survived it and that we learned during it, and that now we're sort of this stronger company because of it.
[00:16:41] Shannon Russell: I wanna ask you about kind of the women in tech question you know, you're a young girl at the time, what was the reception from other people when you were reaching out about it? Did you find that there was kind of this, oh, you're just a, a girl with an idea, or was it No.
You were feeling respected in the [00:17:00] industry at the time.
[00:17:01] Jordan Scott: I think I always give people the benefit of the doubt, and if they say something that's like, oh, we're not interested, but like, good luck, I would've just been like, they're not interested. Like I never really think, oh, it's because I'm a woman or it's because I'm young. Like, and it probably a lot of it was, but at the same time it's like, because I never have that thought in my head.
I think that projects out of you. Like, people respect that they're like, you know, oh, she doesn't even think that could be a reason. And so I don't think it's a reason. And, we run into stuff all the time. That's like a little awkward, you know, my husband and I, we go out and we do takeovers at different restaurants to feature them on Cobble, and we'll set that up ahead of time.
So when we walk in the door, the manager comes up, goes right up to Nick and says like, welcome Jordan. Thanks so much for coming. , We have to say like, oh no, actually I'm Jordan and I'm the founder, and Nick has to say that he's the product tester. And you know, it's funny, but that's my name too, right?
Jordan Scott. People assume I'm a man constantly. But yeah, you know, [00:18:00] I think that having confidence and sort of believing. In the best of people and that they'll see how great your idea is and they'll see how great your, vision is. You've won half the battle basically.
[00:18:12] Shannon Russell: In this day and age too, it's so much more exciting to see a woman at the forefront of this really incredible business, and people want to support that.
[00:18:21] Jordan Scott: I also think money talks, right? Like in terms of getting, the designer to work on my product and stuff, right? It's like I could pay them. So like, they're not gonna say no, or same with a lot of this stuff. If I can prove like we have 50,000 followers on Instagram, like, do you wanna do something?
It's sort of like your success speak for itself. And their people will always, you know, resonate with that.
[00:18:40] Shannon Russell: For anyone else who's thinking that they have this app idea and that maybe, you know, there are too many apps in the app store right now, or this isn't, a unique idea, So what kind of advice would you give to someone, who's kind of thinking about this idea and not sure if they should go for it?
[00:18:55] Jordan Scott: Jordan Absolutely go for it in the tiniest way that you can think of making it. So [00:19:00] if you have an idea for. An app, right? Create a Typeform that like, sort of takes you through what the product will do and like send it out to 50 people and have them take the Typeform quiz and sort of see like, hey, if at the end you got X result, would you want that?
Would you pay for that? How much would you pay for that? Start an Instagram and see if people are resonating with this idea and if they're following you. And if you're seeing growth, like there's always a way to test an idea before you actually go in and develop something. There's tons of stuff with Cobble and I could still take this lesson where we could have tested it in a smaller, cheaper, faster way.
Rather than just being like, this is an amazing idea, let's just build this right now, and, releasing it and being like, Crickets. And so if you have an idea, there's a way to do it, start a newsletter, start an Instagram, throw up a Wix website. Anybody can do it now,
[00:19:55] Shannon Russell: And it's so easy to find people on Fiverr and Upwork that want the [00:20:00] experience so you can hire somebody for really cheap work with them Let that be your guide in getting it tested too. So I That's great. Great advice. So where do you want Cobble to go?
What is your growth forecast for this company?
[00:20:13] Jordan Scott: Well, we want to be the place where people make decisions every single day. Whether that's on where they're going to get dinner, what they're watching on Netflix, or where they should book their next Airbnb. You know, any decision that they make, we want them to make it on Cobble with the people in their lives.
We've just started recently saying on our team, like, 2 billion decisions by 2028. If all of our 7 million users at that time projected, I wish we had 7 million users right now, made two decisions a week, that's what that would be. And so it's like how can we do that?
And everything we build is to getting to that place.
One hook that we have that's really powerful is great content, is great ideas. So right now the content in the app is. Places, experiences, TV shows, movies, recipes. And [00:21:00] you're able to very quickly start a plan, collect a few options, shoot those options out to your group, text to whoever, everyone votes on the options.
They can rank them with like these funny little emojis. And then the original planner gets back. The final date of like, what's the number one choice? Then they can go and book it, make the reservation, everyone is looped in and communicated with of like what the final choice is. And so a lot of it is about keeping people in close communication too, and not making the planner do all of this work of chasing everyone and, Hey, do you like this?
Do you wanna come to the reservation? Like Cobble is playing that role.
[00:21:33] Shannon Russell: So this might be your second act after a shorter first act, but do you. Have a next act that you're thinking about long-term.
[00:21:44] Jordan Scott: Yeah. I mean, I don't think I'm ever. Not going to be a founder after this experience. I really love being creative, coming up with new ideas, growing a team, bringing people into a big vision. I think I have a couple more tech companies under my belt. We'll [00:22:00] see what happens with Cobble and, what we do next, but.
Down, down, down the road, maybe like a third act. know, I'm a huge reader. I would love to like write a book one day. I would love to open a bookstore, you know, like that seems like the thing I do once I've really hit it big and I've joined the Unicorn Club.
Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.
[00:22:30] Jordan Scott: Resilience. If you've made it this far, it means you can keep making it farther. That's sort of what I take away.
[00:22:36] Shannon Russell: would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change like this to your best friend?
[00:22:41] Jordan Scott: A hundred percent to anyone, to a stranger. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for meaning in their life. I really think you learn so much about yourself and, what makes you happy, and this is the only way you really do that, is by taking risks.
[00:22:56] Shannon Russell: What is one piece of advice that you can give to someone who is about to start their [00:23:00] second act?
[00:23:02] Jordan Scott: Oh, just sit down in your chair every day. That's it. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen or your laptop and just write every idea that comes out of your brain. Just. Dump it out and start organizing, you know, the little tasks that roll up to each of those ideas. And you know, I had a screenwriting professor in college who told me at the beginning of a semester, like, we're all leaving this class having written a.
Full length screenplay. And I was like, Hmm, I don't think so. That seems impossible. Maybe I'll write a couple scenes, like, I don't know. And she said the number one thing she would recommend is like just putting your ass in the seat. She's like, if you sit down and you write 10 pages a day, they can be awful, but just write them.
We edit later. And we all, finished our full length screenplays in one semester, so I have that. Maybe that's my third act too, is getting that movie
[00:23:55] Shannon Russell: Exactly.
Where can our audience connect with you and learn more about [00:24:00] Cobble?
[00:24:00] Jordan Scott: You can find cobble in the App store, on anywhere social wise at Try Cobble, TRYCOBBLE, trycobble.com. And you can find me on Instagram @msjordanscott.
[00:24:13] Shannon Russell: This is great. I'll link to everything in the show notes so everyone can connect with you. And I just thank you for sharing your story with us, Jordan. This is really inspiring and I know just hearing about your journey is going to inspire a lot of other women trying to figure it out and they have an idea.
I think just knowing that you were able to pursue it and make your idea into something is just going to inspire them. So
[00:24:36] Jordan Scott: so much for having me, Shannon. It was such a pleasure.
Episode #94 – Grow Your Service-Based Business