Many adjectives to offset the word “Founder” are bandied about too frequently: Special, Unique, Extraordinary, are just some that come to mind. At Polaris, we use these words cautiously and sparingly, but always correctly in describing the founders who we have built enduring relationships and repeat partnerships with over almost twenty years.
Two years ago in Dublin, outside a pub to be precise (a cliche but true), I was introduced to James Whelton, a then 18 year old who displayed maturity well beyond his years. James had recently launched a new initiative called CoderDojo – whilst in his final year of high school – to teach kids and young adolescents how to code. What started in one high school, then spread to the local community and ultimately nationwide, is now a global movement. Today, more than 10,000 young people are being mentored by volunteer domain experts across 27 countries and are learning to code for free.
The very next day after our first meeting, James joined our then nascent @dogpatchlabs Dublin community and I have been fortunate to witness firsthand his many achievements since, including being recognized as one of ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ and being named an Ashoka fellow – the youngest ever recipient.
To build on the success of CoderDojo, James recognized the need to establish a not-for-profit foundation to support a global community of ‘outside-school’ affiliated coding clubs such as CoderDojo. The Hello World Foundation (HWF) was established by James in February of this year and I was privileged to be invited to join as a founding board member. Now we, Polaris Partners, are delighted to become Hello World Foundation’s first corporate donor and more importantly to have the opportunity to work with HWF in helping nurture, encourage and inspire a new generation of Special, Unique and Extraordinary talent.
In addition we are excited to welcome James to the Polaris family as an Entrepreneur Out of Residence (EOR). In his new role, James will both continue his work expanding the foundation in the US – soon in Boston and Cambridge – and will return to his coding roots as he explores new opportunities for disruptive development. We are thrilled to welcome James to our community and know full well that “Hello” is just the beginning.