Part I of II
Kairos is Greek for “the right or opportune moment.” Ankur Jain, the Founder of Kairos Society creates the right moment for college students under the age of 25 who are leading by example and proof that the millennial entrepreneurial drive is defining the way we think, interact, and engage as a culture. Ankur attended the Wharton School of Business. During his freshman year in 2007, as the US economy was crumbling, he cut through the economic ambiguity and created a solution: Collaboration among student entrepreneurs, which resulted in the formation of the Kairos Society. Today, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Penn are among the 100+ Universities that comprise the Kairos Society.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ankur, and he further explained that when he was establishing the mission of Kairos Society he recognized that there was a lack of overlap among entrepreneurs from cross disciplines. Aware of his resources as a university student, he put the pieces together and decided that a competition among a select group of the very best students would foster an environment that connects entrepreneurs from cross disciplines. He was correct.
Every year the Kairos Society selects and supports 50 companies through mentorship, collaboration, and their expansive network of thought leaders and industry experts. To qualify for Kairos50 you must be 1) Under the age of 25, 2) Working on a scalable venture, 3) Providing research that has the potential to make a global impact, and 4) Giving back to the community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Among this year’s Kairos50 there are 16 industry categories and the top three industries are Healthcare accounting for 13 companies, Education accounting for 9 companies, and Data Analysis accounting for 5 companies.
Kairos Society continues to charge the entrepreneurial ecosystem with energy and innovation. Ankur’s most recent development is the release of Humin. He has designed a phone app that organizes contacts the way a human thinks. For example, Humin can find a contact’s name, just by entering when and where you met. In the Humin system, you will see their picture, how you are connected and much more. Just like humans, Humin learns more with every interaction.
During our conversation Ankur quoted Senca: “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity” and I believe this appropriately describes his great ability to problem solve and act in the right moment.
My luck came in 1966 when by chance, I heard a lecture by Arthur C. Clarke on the power of geosynchronous orbiting satellites. I was so taken by his vision that only three satellites were needed to complete communications around the globe. As a result, I envisioned a world of television that could be sent and received from many points of access. Satellite communication was a disruptive technology that took seven more years to secure for domestic use in the US. I spent those seven years in the television, satellite and cable industries until I was lucky enough to be a participant in the night that change the course of television history: September 30, 1975. The Thrilla in Manilla was brought to Vero Beach, Florida and demonstrated the viability of satellites to deliver live programming to cable systems. On that night, preparation met opportunity and launched my career.
In order to continue mapping out the entrepreneurial landscape, I asked Nanxi Liu, a Kairos50 alum, to share her experience working with Ankur and she said: “Ankur’s entrepreneurial talent is reflected not only in the tech company he is building, but also in the quality of people he brings together at Kairos. It’s great working with him through Kairos because he knows how to have fun while still getting things done.”
Nanxi Liu is a Bioscience thought leader with Nanoly and social media visionary with Enplug. During our conversation we focused on her experience starting up Enplug, which offers a mini device that turns any TV inside a store into a live and interactive social media display. Nanxi explained that the Enplug team had anticipated increasing their client’s social media chatter by 20 or 30 percent, but it ended up being an average of 500%. She said that customers are incredibly interactive with Enplug displays and immediately know to #hashtag the business’s name in their social media post in order to see their message on the in display.
Nanxi went on to describe that her team’s current challenge is educating potential clients that Enplug exists. The digital signage and professional display business is a $14 billion industry and with that great number, comes great competition. As an entrepreneur there will always be competition and this is why human capital is essential for making sure your company’s voice is heard.