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This article features a one-to-one interview between Mike Feerick, CEO and Founder of Alison, and Niamh Bushnell, Dublin Commissioner for Startups, in which the two discuss Mike’s history as a serial entrepreneur and his plans for the future. The article features overviews of some of Alison’s breakthrough projects, including a programme launched by the President of India and how a US court has opted to instruct offenders to spend time studying on Alison in exchange for not being sentenced to prison. Mike also details his friendship with billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney, and his inspiration for addressing a social ill with Alison as a business rather than a charity.

Over the course of the conversation, Mike details Alison’s origins and evolutions as a social enterprise. He overviews how he transitioned from working with companies and charities in the UK to setting up his own business, Yac.com, in Dublin, before selling it and setting up Advanced Learning for Microsoft. He details how the idea for a volume advertising-based revenue model for free online courses came to him in 2005, with the Alison platform launching in 2007, gaining 1 million users in the first 5 years and another million users in the next year alone, with continuing growth ever since. Some of Alison’s plans for the future are then discussed. Read more...