Reyn Aubrey: College Student, CEO

Connor Tribble

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With more tragedies seemingly hitting the world every day, people all around the globe rely on charities to help them get through rough times. Over 14 million people are displaced from their homes every year due to natural disasters and over one-ninth of the world’s population lack enough food to lead a healthy functioning life. However with so many charity organizations, finding the right one can be a challenging task. MHS alumnus Reyn Aubrey realized this problem and decided to act on it. His solution was to create a micro donation service that could make charity easy for everyone called PocketChange, which he is now CEO of.
“PocketChange’s purpose is to make change easy, we want to empower everyone to take action on causes that they care about, when and where they care about it most. And we want to help them make the most impact possible on those causes,” said Aubrey.

Essentially, the idea involves linking tragic events and videos on Facebook directly to an organization that can do something about it. “As someone is scrolling through their newsfeed, they see a post that’s talking about a cause. Our AI technology analyzes the post and determines the cause that that post is talking about; it matches that cause with the most impactful charity. Then our users can instantly micro give $0.25 to $2.00 with two clicks to support that cause,” said Aubrey.
From a young age, Aubrey had an inkling for making money. At the age of six he started a lemonade stand, hiring his friends to run it while he promoted his beverage around a local recreational center in a flash outfit. Later on, realizing that he had the potential to make something out of his skill, he took business classes in high school and even joined a venture acceleration called, ”Blue Startups,” to help jumpstart his career. From there, he started a business involving selling bracelets that he made out of recycled soda tabs. “The entrepreneurship and marketing class started PopItHawaii—the big (deal about) that business was being voted one of the top five products in Hawaii that year,” said Aubrey.

Shortly after this business venture, in which he made $10,000, Aubrey started selling hoverboards, creating the company HoverboardHi at the age of 17 and making $100,000. “I started HowerboardHi because I saw a bunch of online influencers with them, and realized no one had them and just filled the gap,” said Aubrey.

Although Aubrey enjoyed his smaller businesses, he knew he wanted to make an impact on the world in some way with his talents. “I knew I loved business, the entity, the process, but not with the end goal of having money to buy useless things I didn’t need. So I decided the next company was going to be focused on helping the world. An organization that helps raise funds for the causes that matter most, and actually puts them towards solutions to monumental problems,” said Aubrey. “The idea started in a very cliché location—the shower. I’d been thinking about how to make a difference in the world, and many of the original ideas just popped into place. Best shower I’ve ever had.”

With this in mind, Aubrey created PocketChange, and quickly found a place for himself at the University of Denver, Colorado after graduating from MHS. He gathered a team of like-minded entrepreneurs to help him with his new mission. “Our founding team is currently myself, CEO, Christian Dooley, Head of Marketing, Apoorva Bapat, Head of Natural Language Processing, and Jon Duvarney, Head of Design,” said Aubrey. “Christian – he’s my cofounder, the dude who keeps me sane in the insanity of this business. He’s the one who really helps cut to the middle of what matters most. Everything would fall apart without Christian. He also calls me out when it needs to happen, and keeps me on track if I’m dreaming a little too much.”
Finding the right charities to donate to is essential to using PocketChange, so that anyone using it can be easily directed to the best charitable organization for their chosen cause. “In terms of charities we work with: that’s the most important part. We have a team of charity researches that look through every public charity out there to determine which charity is actually able to ‘solve’ an issue, and who can do it the most efficiently. I say solve in quotes because the problems we’re tackling are wicked problems that can never truly be ‘solved’, you can’t solve racism or poverty or climate change, but you can nearly eradicate them—make it such a non-issue that it’s not something that needs to be focused on,” said Aubrey.

As the team continues working on and developing PocketChange, they want to extend it beyond Facebook, so it can be reached and used by an even larger group of people. “Imagine if everywhere you interacted with something inspiring, from all your social media to email, on YouTube, blog posts, news articles, or when listening to Spotify, PocketChange was there to help you take action,” said Aubrey. “An organization that empowers people to take action all over the world. An organization that helps raise funds for the causes that matter most, and actually puts them towards solutions to monumental problems. I want people to trust us, to know that they can do something and we’re there to help them. If we go really down the road, PocketChange becomes the action platform for everyone everywhere.”

Aubrey hopes not only to help the world by supporting causes with PocketChange, but also to bring young entrepreneurs into the world of business and give them a fighting chance. “I just love it. Absolutely, down to my core. I think if you find something you love, there is no reason not to do it. It’s important to me because the playing field is even. No one can tell you anything, because the only thing that matters is the market. Business makes me happy. We’re living in the greatest time of entrepreneurship ever, and because I love it so much I would be an idiot if I did anything but spend every ounce of energy in me pursuing that,” said Aubrey.

Aubrey plans to have a fully finished project by March 1, launching PocketChange by mid-March. It will only be available as an extension on Facebook at first, but the team hopes to expand as they continue. With a team consisting of 22 people and over 600,000 charities analyzed in 2018 alone, they are consistently growing and hope to bring the needs of the world into the light. They will be putting out new information regularly on their website www.pocketchnge.social/cs.

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Reyn Aubrey: College Student, CEO