The Kairos Society: The Elite Of Tomorrow

by Ryan Babikian

Imagine if Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Larry Ellison were all friends in their early 20s, right during the onset of their entrepreneurial passions…would the world be full of grander innovations and triumphs? After all, a network and environment of higher-level collaboration is the ultimate ingredient for success.

That is the school of thought behind the Kairos Society, a super-charged entrepreneurial think-tank comprised of the best and brightest of our generation from around the globe.

Founded in 2008, the Kairos Society was the first of its kind: a student-run entrepreneurial organization that spanned multiple universities across the country. At the first Kairos Global Summit in 2009, its Fellowship encompassed the top 16 schools for entrepreneurship in the US.

And it all started with a single question posed by current Kairos Chairman and Founder Ankur Jain:

What if today's most influential leaders were friends 30 years ago, working together to solve the world’s problems?

This became the founding vision and inspiration for the Kairos Society – now at its Fifth Annual Global Summit – and its mission of uniting the future titans of industry has spread into a vibrant community of trailblazers and pioneers kicking into gear their goals of changing the world.

Elite Daily had the chance to experience last weekend’s Global Summit at the NYSE trading floor as the winners of Kairos 50 were unveiled. For those who don’t already know, the Kairos 50 is already a who’s who of rising stars in the tech industry, self desribed as “what transpires when 350 of the top Kairos Fellows team up with 150 Global Innovators for a weekend in New York City”.

So what happens at the Global Summit? For one, over 100 newly-formed game changing startups are launched right there on the trading floor in front of a hungry and ambitious crowd of college entrepreneur representing over 20 countries.

This powerhouse event is also packed with 150 of the most influential world leaders who serve as mentors to the many founders whose promising startups are in that do-or-die early stage of growth. Kairos 50 participant Theo Koullias had this to say:

The Kairos Society is very much about mentoring while providing startups with an outlet for exposure and a space for real-world testing. We were introduced to potential investors and seasoned entrepreneurs who were both enthusiastic about our company; and who did the necessary task of asking hard questions, forcing us to find solutions to unresolved issues, and leading us to take the next steps towards a product that is ready for market.

Prior to attending the event, Elite Daily was curious to see what would transpire at the Summit. As a fervent believer in “kill or be killed” competition as a driving force behind success, Elite was eager to experience things from the opposite lens. I mean, after all, it was Rockefeller and Carnegie being at each other’s throats that drove them to be the best… not friendship.

Yet, at the same time, nearly every leading start up-turned-billion-dollar-corporation of today from Yahoo to Facebook has been a result of creative collaboration and dynamic founding teams. And after leaving the Summit, Kairos had us here at Elite Daily convinced of their philosophy and methodology. And we weren’t the only ones...

Elite Daily spoke with Arielle Assouline-Lichten and founder, Theodora Koullias, of Jon Lou, a rising tech-meets-fashion company and one of Kairos 50:

What did you think about the Summit?

The Kairos 50 Summit is an amazing opportunity to showcase startup work. For Jon Lou, it was an incredible first push both on our end to see how our tech-integrated handbag would be received by the public, as well as a great way to network within the startup community. Getting our 314 prototype on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange felt like a tangible step in the right direction, all thanks to the K50 Summit. Overall, the organizers did a great job setting up a range of events throughout the weekend that fostered knowledge-sharing and long-lasting connections.

What other Kairos 50 startups caught your eye?

We were lucky enough to attend the Kairos Global Summit with our friends from MIT who are also doing some pretty awesome stuff and definitely deserve a shout-out! Nightingale, a mobile app startup founded by two MIT students (Delian Asparouhov and David Goldman), helps people manage and remember to take their medications based on sensors in smart phones. They are great because their work can help save people’s lives while pushing technology forward. We are really into technology that has an impact on the way people live their lives, especially when it can be seamlessly integrated with the things we already need and use daily.

What do startups really gain from this?

Working on a startup can be isolating -- it’s important to reach out to the community of other entrepreneurs who are currently facing or who have already faced similar trajectories while growing their businesses. The Kairos Society works to bridge the gap between mentors, investors, and entrepreneurs so that members really feel like there is a network of experience they can tap into for advice along the way. We have already felt this at play in the few weeks that we have been a part of the Kairos society.

Elite also spoke with Trevor Burbank, Co-Founder & CEO of Teach Twice at the Summit, whose education-model-disrupting startup is one of the Kairos 50.

What are some of the perks of being a part of the Kairos society?

The network is very supportive and is a great community. It is both inspiring to see all the work being done by other members and an incredible resource to get connected and collaborate together.

Which other Kairos startup did you like the most?

I have been a big fan of Alcohoot. I believe a gadget such of that would create a real positive change in our society. It only takes one friend to carry it in their bag or purse to make sure everyone stays safe and has a good night out.

And the best part of the event was...?

I could not deny that partying alongside Madeon on the New York Stock Exchange was an incredible time, but working together with passionate and powerful people to make the world a better place will always be my favorite.

Overall, how would you sum up the Summit?

It was an incredible opportunity to present to and be surrounded by a diverse group of leaders representing every field. To have so many individuals from so many places committed to working together to make a better world is inspiring and really has motivated me to continue to move forward with my work on Teach Twice.

If you are interested in becoming a Kairos Fellow, want to check out their next event, or just want some info, click here.

Elite | Venture Clout