When you meet Reyn Aubrey, it doesn’t take long to learn that he’s passionate about changing the world—something he believes happens through people and their ideas.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Aubrey. “It’s the only thing I’ve wanted to do.”
The first-year student at the University of Denver grew up in Hawaii and was only looking at schools in San Francisco and New York City. He wanted to be in cities where startups thrive.
Out of the blue, a friend told him about Denver and then months later, after a visit to DU, he read this article on Virgin.com about how Colorado attracts entrepreneurs. That clinched the deal: Aubrey started at DU in fall 2016.
While he had launched and run four companies in Hawaii, including a successful Hoverboard business called HoverboardHI, Aubrey’s first taste of the Denver entrepreneurship scene came through the
introductory “Gateway to Business” course required of all Daniels students. In the course, students must come up with an idea and develop an app. It was just after taking the course, that Aubrey developed the idea for PocketChange.
“I was in the shower,” Aubrey recalled. “I know that sounds cliché, but that’s where I was when I was thinking about Facebook and how we could harness the power of it to support people and causes. We had been talking about social good in class, and out of the blue everything clicked into place.”
PocketChange is a button that would sit next to posts on Facebook. If the post was about an earthquake or climate change, the button would light up and identify the number one organization impacting change in that area. Then, it would allow you to micro donate $0.25 – $2.00 to that cause.
The idea sounds simple and maybe that’s why it has so many fans. Aubrey approached Stephen Haag, faculty director of entrepreneurship at Daniels, to get initial funding for a website. He was given $600.
“Just like so many other students who have come through the Gateway course and Madden Challenge, Reyn truly understands that he can build and succeed,” said Stephen Haag, faculty director of entrepreneurship and instructor for the “Gateway” course. “This is what Mr. Madden wanted all along: young people chasing and realizing their entrepreneurial dreams.”
In February, Aubrey competed and won the seventh annual DU Pitch Competition, receiving $1,750 after winning first place in the overall category ($1000) as well as the social entrepreneurship category ($750). With that came the right to represent DU at the Angel Capital Summit. March was a busy month for Aubrey: First, he competed and won first place and $1,500 from Dynamize, Daniels’ entrepreneurship club as part of its accelerator program for student entrepreneurs.
“They wanted to see who really hustled and developed their idea in as short a time period as possible,” Aubrey said.
Then, later in March, Aubrey competed in the Angel Capital Summit presented by the Rockies Venture Club. He took second place, which is just fine by him.
“I got to present in front of 200 investors,” Aubrey said. “I now have names and numbers of people who want to invest in PocketChange, and help make it a success.”
Aubrey says he’s blown away by the connections and resources he’s received by coming to DU. He’s hopeful he can secure venture capital, and build out the team needed to get PocketChange off the ground.
“People think that making an impact on the world is really difficult, but in reality the aggregation of the little stuff is what matters—whether its $0.25 or a smile.” he said. “The world is going to change—whether it’s positively or negatively is up to us as a people. The goal at PocketChange is to help move in the right direction.”