CO+HOOTS Member Profile: The Nerdery and its nerdy passions

by | Sep 6, 2016

By Emily Liu, CO+HOOTS

Google the best place for nerds to gather and you’ll probably find a long list of results. You’ll scroll through listings of local video game stores, libraries and conventions. Maybe you’ll even find Steve Wozniak’s address. But here at CO+HOOTS, we’ll let you in on a little secret: the real answer is The Nerdery.

On its surface, The Nerdery, which is headquartered in Minneapolis and has branched out to Phoenix, seems to be your basic software design and development shop with a foothold on the industry. It’s specialized, focusing on five service areas that include mobile applications and digital consultation. It’s run by college-educated professionals in four major metropolitan areas. Every employee has a knack for problem-solving.

But beneath its staff members’ shared superhuman understanding of tech jargon and alignment to basic industry standards, The Nerdery is far from the tech startup image of conformity. The company refuses to be black-and-white or clouded with monitor-focused tunnel vision. Most importantly, The Nerdery looks at its business from a uniquely people-centered perspective — and that’s exactly what keeps its clients and employees asking for more.


Danny Estavillo, Phoenix branch director, was recruited by The Nerdery three months ago. In addition to the advancement of Arizona as a tech hub, he largely attributes his decision to make the move to the company culture, in which acceptance and passion are consistent.

“The company itself just lends to a place where you’re able to be you and 100 percent who you are, how you come, with no biases,” Danny said. “That’s really cool. On top of that, our nerds deeply, honestly care about our customers and the problems we’re attacking. That’s not always something that happens in the marketplace, so for me, those conditions were attractive.”

For J. Michael Edwards-Toepel, solutions architect and original member of the Phoenix branch, The Nerdery provided a career path that he could be finally be excited about, after experiencing the much less open atmosphere of a global corporation.

Satisfied with the small company atmosphere of The Nerdery, which allows employees to directly see the results of their work, J. has remained a nerd for three years and counting. He says that the high level of trust that staff members receive is heartening, and the company’s passion for its clients is equally inspiring.

Take this for example: The Nerdery has worked with Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Giving Day for two years now. It would be easy for a company to simply build the necessary software, cash its paycheck and leave with a big client on its portfolio. Instead, The Nerdery went several steps further and embedded a passion for ASU’s cause in each of their Phoenix team members.

“We had the website up on the wall, on our TV, just watching the number go up and up and up,” J. said. “We all got super excited. You see hundreds of dollars of donations come in and we were all freaking out.”


Defining a nerd as someone who is passionate about a specific interest, The Nerdery sees many networking and community-building benefits in its CO+HOOTS location, where members share a similar mindset.

“Everyone in the space is kind of nerds like us, in the sense that there’s a lot of passionate people involved in a lot of things,” J. said. “We’ve been able to get to know what Phoenix is about and what opportunities there are and how to be involved.”

As the company continues to be involved in the community, Danny said, The Nerdery aims to give back to Phoenix by helping accelerate technological developments and bringing a supportive mindset through experience and heart.

“The Nerdery is fit to take 15 years of experience, thousands of projects, and bring that to the table and help companies thrive as it comes to technical applications of software,” Danny said. “Outside of that, The Nerdery has that culture piece of helping people to be you. In a place that can be politically divided sometimes, we welcome all, however you come, whatever you do. Hopefully, we’re a thought leader there. We demonstrate that we love all nerds, no matter what.”