Startup Aims to Help the Autistic Community
There are many entrepreneurs in Arizona, and though this is not a “high-tech” startup, this inspirational story is one to be told…it’s about a man who didn’t let his disability inhibit an opportunity to start a business.
Matt Cottle, Founder of Stuttering King Bakery, was diagnosed with highly-functioning autism (HFA), and since he could work, has struggled to find his place in the business world.
Matt shared with me that he previously worked for a store for six years that refused to allow him to try other departments in the store, including the bakery. Matt eventually found his passion for baking at home and made a change.
“I had the door slammed in my face in the workforce, so I decided to start my own business” he explained.
Peg Cottle, Matt’s mother, explained that there were not a lot of options for her son because businesses don’t know what to do with autistic people. Most places do not offer any types of apprenticeship to learn a trade or business. Due to the lack of specialized training programs designed for autistic adults, jobs are unavailable and results in about 91 percent unemployment rate.
Peg explained that Matt received some help from Community Kitchen, a place that gave him a lot of knowledge in the kitchen and in the job market. However, the Kitchen also struggled to help Matt find a job.
Luckily for Matt, he soon found his tutor and mentor, Heather Netzloff, who has taught him the art of baking. Peg explained that private lessons were the best and only option for Matt.
“An autistic person is a blank slate,” Peg said, “They are experiential learners, so placing a book in front of them or in a classroom with twenty-five other people doesn’t work. The end result is the same, but the learning process is different.”
Heather Netzloff continues to give Matt private lessons to teach him the process of baking, recipes, and how to complete everything.
Matt has a myriad of other plans for the future. “I want to expand to have more space to bake. That is phase two…phase three is a coffee shop,” he said.
At the SeedSpot Demo Day, Matt pitched for resources to open his own bakery with a coffee cart and the ability to train and employ those with autism. He currently services the Scottsdale Civic Center Library, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, ASU events and SeedSpot.
He wants to keep his focus on helping the autistic community and hopes to reach out to other families with autistic children and give them hope.
“I feel like I have the autistic community in my hands,” Matt said.
It seems as if the autistic community will benefit from Matt because he hopes to expand his bakery all over Arizona and make it the number one place in the country for autistic jobs.
From the Editor in Chief:
Matt came into AZTB and shared some of his baked goods with the team – my favorite was the brownie…it was ridiculously good. If you have a morning event where you need baked goods, consider Stuttering King Bakery and support the dream of one inspirational man. Great Job Matt.
To learn more about or order from Stuttering King Bakery click here.
Watch Matt Cottle’s pitch at SeedSpot Demo Day here.
Photography by Shane D Rymer