Alexandria's Changents

Here's an excerpt from a posting about an Alexandria start-up that appeared on our Small Business blog. See the full piece here.

The founders of Changents -- a blend of the words "change agents" -- post stories and videos of individuals who they and site readers see as making the world a better place. It's sort of an online bazaar connecting innovators with people who want to innovate. Readers can comment, find ways to get involved with a featured person or group, and e-mail the story to friends or peers.

With the advent of online social networks and instant connectivity, tracking your individual impact "is sort of the narcotic of the new generation of philanthropy," said co-president Alex Hofmann. "You can forward a story, you can post the story. We call it 'rippable.' When people respond, your ripple begins to grow."

The company, run primarily by its two founders based in Alexandria and Boston, is working to monetize, through online advertising and corporate sponsorships, a forum where 20- and 30-year-olds can network to build a better society.

"People want to feel that the actions that they're taking are tangible," said Hofmann. "Sending 10 bucks to the United Way at the end of the year" is good, but people may "not be sure where it goes ..... They want to see and understand [the impact of] their actions."

Hofmann and business partner Deron Triff started Changents after working together at the Public Broadcasting System. In a different phase of his life, Hofmann was the guitar player and songwriter in the band Vainglorious. He worked as a freelance concert tour manager for major label acts such as Radiohead and PJ Harvey and also worked in various project management jobs with large entertainment firms such as Sony Online Entertainment.

When Hofmann and I met at an Alexandria coffee house to chat about his firm, he bounds through the door a little breathless and bleary-eyed like any start-up owner. He actually has more on his mind that morning.

"Sorry, I had to go chase down that woman with the double stroller and find out more about it," he apologizes.
His two greatest personal agents of change were born three weeks prior and the second of the girls was due home from the hospital that afternoon.

"So, yes, twins and a start-up ..... " he muses without fully expanding on the thought.

-- Sharon McLoone

By Dan Beyers  |  November 22, 2007; 12:08 PM ET
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