Simply put, Jonathan Cottrell “serves entrepreneurs and their communities in Love.” (It took him a while to put his career’s general meaning into a single sentence.) Through his company, Hopscratch, he gives new and seasoned entrepreneurs the opportunity to start their businesses easily within two weeks. #yesphx, a movement Jonathan coined with a few friends, helps locals rally around local businesses and innovation. Few entrepreneurs love their communities like Jonathan Cottrell.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
My family lives in North Phoenix in the Moon Valley neighborhood. The community there is absolutely incredible. Lots of great families, and tons of people who’ve lived their whole lives there. We’re also known for celebrating Christmas bigger than anywhere else I’ve seen in the Valley. I even won the Christmas light decoration award this last year!
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
I started my first business as an 11-year-old after reading Better Than a Lemonade: 51 Business Ideas for Kids. I took newspapers to front door steps, and moved trash cans to the curb the night before pickup, then wheeled them back the morning after. People could pay $7 a month for each individual service or $10 a month for both. My first customer was a lovely elderly lady named Mrs. Koines.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
People. I love building relationships with team members, collaborating with partners, and figuring out together how we’re going to best serve customers. It’s all about people and relationships for me.
How did you come up with the idea for Hopscratch?
I’ve always wanted to automate the process of setting up the software and accounts required at the start of a business. That initially planted the seed of the idea, but turning it into a done-for-you service came after brainstorming conversations with my co-founders. We wanted to make a product that would benefit entrepreneurs everywhere, not just ourselves.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Prioritization is the biggest challenge. Choosing the most important thing to focus on is tough, especially with limited time, capital, and team members. Just ask any other startup founder and they’ll say the same!
How did you get started in the tech industry?
I was 18, had just totaled my car, and my best friend had to drive me around everywhere. One night we were cruising around wondering what to do. We weren’t 21 yet, so the bar thing was out, and we didn’t want to do kiddie stuff either. This need led to us create an online directory for teenagers looking for fun stuff to do.
From a career standpoint, I started at iCrossing where I got my feet wet in the digital marketing space. A few years later my friend and I reconnected to create blippr, which we sold to Mashable in 2009.
What sparked an initial interest in tech?
Reading about it, observing what was happening, and participating myself. The real catalyst was when I realized, “Wow, we can build something from scratch. Let’s do this.”
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I am a second-generation Arizona native. I’ve lived here my whole life, for 34 years now, and have seen the growth of the tech scene especially explode over the last 3+ years.
I think the main reason is that we have a lot of entrepreneurs who’ve been heads down for awhile getting their companies off the ground, had exits, and are now investing back into building the Arizona entrepreneurial community. The ecosystem, from entrepreneurs to investors, is more aligned than ever and really moving the ball forward for Arizona.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
It goes back to people. I love the people that are here, and the relationships I’ve established. Arizona is full of people not just building businesses, but building lives. There’s a real sense that we’re all in this journey together of building a great community and city.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
The sprawl. There’s a lot of progress in the downtown area, but I would love a little more density throughout the Valley.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Capital is a need, without a doubt. I know many are working on that, but we need a Sandhill Road of our own at some point.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What’s your favorite place to grab lunch in your city?
Rice Paper, whenever I’m craving good Vietnamese.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Marrying my wife. That’s almost 11 years ago now, but it will remain my favorite, not just because of the wedding itself, but because of the amazing marriage, friendship, and partnership that we have built since coming together as one.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
The biggest misconception is that there isn’t a tech scene. Obviously that perception is changing, but it’s still there for a lot of people.
Another misconception is that we’re only desert. People who’ve never been here before are surprised by how much green is here when they arrive.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
On the tech, startup, and entrepreneurship side, just dive in and get involved. Go to the places where entrepreneurs are gathering, meet the creators, and ask how you can help. You’ll be surprised by how generous people are with their time and knowledge.