ChangeX raises €400k seed round, investors include Ben & Jerry’s Jerry Greenfield

21 Jul 2015

Pictured are: Brian Caulfield from DFJ Espri and Niamh McKenna and Paul O'Hara from ChangeX

ChangeX, a not-for-profit start-up, has raised €400,000 from a coterie of investors including Storyful founder Mark Little, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield, prominent Irish financier Dermot Desmond and some high-profile Silicon Valley investors.

The investors also include: John O’Farrell, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz; Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures; Realex founder Colm Lyon; Brian Caulfield from DFJ Espri and Bil McKiernan from WMC Capital.

“I’m a long-time supporter of and believe in the power of grassroots movements and ChangeX has the potential to really accelerate their growth and impact and that’s important for the world,” Greenfield said. “I’ve known Paul for a few years now, I like his work and I’m just delighted to support him and the team in getting ChangeX to fly.”

ChangeX, which was our Boole Start-up of the Week in recent weeks, connects people with the best ideas and like-minded people so they can work on causes that they are passionate about.

ChangeX is a platform of proven social innovations such as CoderDojo, Men’s Sheds and DIY designed to measurably improve wellbeing in communities across Ireland.

‘It was the kind of idea that I wish I had myself’

It lets people discover and follow the ideas they like, find people who share this passion and access the related information, tools and support, such as mentorship, needed to implement the ideas and make great things happen in their communities.

ChangeX has also been identified as a High Potential Start-up by Enterprise Ireland.

“For me when ChangeX came along it was a no-brainer,” Mark Little said.

“It was the kind of idea that I wish I had myself. I have no doubt that the team of ChangeX will pull off this revolutionary idea of a concept for a marketplace for social innovations that bring real change at local level but also have the potential to scale internationally.”

An example of the kind of campaigns is ChangeX 100, which is aiming to recruit 100 new teams across Ireland to commit to starting a proven idea in their community within 100 days to benefit thousands of people across Ireland. With 10 days left in the campaign, ChangeX currently has 95 teams signed up and ready to start.

“No matter how much time we spend on the internet we still live in a local community and it’s up to each of us to make our community stronger,” said Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures.

“There is no reason to re-invent the wheel for how to make our community a better place to live. Through ChangeX you can discover what has worked in other communities. Knowledge is the most powerful thing we have – let’s share it broadly.”

Investors are looking for social impact


Pictured are: Dr Brendan Dunford, Elaine Williams, Niamh McKenna and Paul O’Hara, ChangeX

As hard as it may seem to believe that a not-for-profit organisation can woo investment from venture capitalists and financiers, the reality is ChangeX has done it.

“Investors are looking for social impact,” explained ChangeX founder and CEO Paul O’Hara.

“They’re investing in the potential of the platform and the team’s ability to build it. The traction to date was critically important. All that, and hard work.”

‘Next steps will focus on building strong communities of changemakers in towns and villages across Ireland’

In terms of where the investment will take ChangeX next, O’Hara said: “The investment will allow us to expand the product team to build our next couple of versions.

“We will grow the number of innovations on the platform, continue to grow and deepen usage and multiply the number of beneficiaries.

“We will dip our toes in the first international market to understand how it might work,” O’Hara concluded.

“Next steps will focus on building strong communities of changemakers in towns and villages across Ireland, both online and off.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years