When we first met Reyn Aubrey, he was a first-year Daniels student with an idea. Just over a year later, that idea is now a working microdonation platform with a serious investor.
“The moment I heard the pitch, I knew that I had to move on this now or lose it forever,” says private technology investor Jon Christensen. “Every investor knows the formula: look for massive ideas being chased by top shelf entrepreneurs.”
PocketChange is a button that sits on Facebook and lights up when you see a post about a cause or issue. It then selects the most impactful charity working on tackling and solving that problem at the root and lets you donate 25 cents to $2 to that nonprofit.
“Just last week, because of PocketChange, 15 people have clean water who didn’t before and two acres of rainforest have been protected, as well as a ton of other stuff,” Aubrey says. “We’re just getting started, but it’s incredible where we’re at, and we’re getting closer and closer to the starting line of an incredible journey.”
After winning the DU Pitch Competition in February 2017, Aubrey took the initiative to pitch his idea whenever and wherever he could. He was given an opportunity to pitch at the Angel Capital Summit with the Rockies Venture Club (RVC), which happened to be over DU’s spring break.
“I canceled my road trip plans and got to work!” Aubrey says. “RVC is an incredible group of investors, the biggest in Colorado, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pitch to 100-400 investors.”
Christensen hadn’t planned to be at the pitch competition. He’s not even from Denver. He was just passing through, delivering furniture back to his home state of Montana. But a friend recommended he stop and watch some pitches. He did and was immediately enamored with Aubrey’s idea.
“This DU startup is poised to change the way we think about charity,” says Christensen, who represents Frontier Angels out of Bozeman, Montana. “It applies micropayments, virality and connectedness to the natural human instinct to do good, and it will direct vast amounts of private assets toward solutions for our most intractable global problems. It’s one of those few ideas that comes along every now and again that doesn’t just have the potential to fix a business problem. PocketChange will change the world.”
As you might imagine, Aubrey is over the moon. His one-person startup has blossomed to a 26-person team with leaders Christian Dooley, head of marketing; Jon DuVarney, head of product; Apoorva Bapat, head of technology; and Aubrey, CEO.
“We’ve got 26 incredible team members, almost entirely made up of DU students. Most of them work on charity selection,” he says. “They’ve analyzed more than 800,000 charities in 2018, selecting nearly 100 organizations to enable us across 100 causes.”
Aubrey’s main focus is growing PocketChange’s user base, aiming for 200,000 users by the end of the year. He feels he can meet that goal with Christensen’s investment.
“The vision of PocketChange is to become the facilitator of all action on any cause you care about, anywhere you want to do something. We’re already working on expansions to Twitter, news sites, YouTube and even mobile,” he says. “With this investment, put into the team we have, we have set our sights on becoming the tech giant of the next generation – one that utilizes business and technology for good. We are swinging for the fences every single day, and Jon’s belief in our vision will help turn it into reality.”
Entrepreneurship Director Stephen Haag has been with Aubrey since the beginning, as both a mentor and business adviser.
“PocketChange represents what entrepreneurship is all about at DU and within the Daniels College of Business. After Reyn completed the Gateway to Business course that includes the Madden Challenge, we immediately invested $600 of the Madden funds to help Reyn build PocketChange’s first website,” explains Haag.
After that, the Entrepreneurship Office offered Reyn and his team a budget of $2,500 to build a minimum viable product and create a proof-of-concept prototype that the market validated.
“We are so fortunate to have friends of the Entrepreneurship program and the Gateway to Business course like the Madden family. The Maddens’ investments in our initiatives, like PocketChange, are truly changing the world,” Haag says. “Of course, those investments only pay dividends when we have passionate entrepreneurs like Reyn and equally passionate angels like Jon.”