What would a 10 year old ideally be interested in? Gaming, baseball, trekking? But Ankur Jain was different. He would make his way in his Segway into his dad’s office and spend his time there. No wonder, when by the time he reached the seventh grade, he could easily engage in conversations about stocks and stakes. Having seen his father Naveen Jain (the serial entrepreneur who built Infospace and Intellius) build companies, he started his own venture called Starnium at the age of 12. But if you think that this guy would be content building companies and making it big, you got him wrong. Now a sophomore at the Wharton School, Jain along with some of the ingenious students there, have conspired to establish a society of collegiate entrepreneurs, called the Kairos Society and, in less than a year, the group has gone from nationwide to global.
“We are living in tough economic times and what is evident is that the traditional ways of looking at a career are far disappearing. This is the opportune time to create value for ourselves and the community and the best way to do that is to pursue the path of entrepreneurship,” says the 19-year-old Jain. And it is this belief that he tries to execute through Kairos. As a sophomore himself he finds that there are a lot of ideas at the undergraduate level which does not see the ray of light due to lack of proper support. As a person who has seen his dad transforming ideas into opportunities and executing them, Jain felt a compelling desire to break the conventional barriers existing in terms of undergraduate entrepreneurship. “Till now, there has been no organization that worked towards bringing the best students with bright ideas and connecting them with some of the greatest entrepreneurs and mentors,” explains Jain.
The purpose of Kairos is to bring together the brightest college students from different economic backgrounds from all over the country, who have passion for entrepreneurship. The idea got instant attention in the campuses where the students were eagerly hoping for some kind of support. Within a year the society has started the entrepreneurship group in over 18 universities. “In all these schools we have 50 to 100 hand-selected students who are doing incredible things,” says Jain. He believes that some of the billion dollar enterprises and products of the future are being cultivated at some of the nation’s leading universities.
With a motto of inspiration, experience and innovation, the Kairos Society aims to foster the entrepreneurial spirit among students by connecting them with one another, forging relationships with emerging start-up companies around the world. The Kairos Society’s advisory board is a who’s who of global leadership, who got involved with the organization because they believe in what the Society can do to foster tomorrow’s top entrepreneurs. This includes Scott Mednick; Chris Kitze, founder of Xoom.com; Bill White, President of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund; Rajat K. Gupta, Managing Director Worldwide at McKinsey & Co.; and Bill Owens, former U.S. Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But Jain doesn’t just want the business minds; his aim is to create visionaries. As of now the society has students who have done experiments in alternative energy development, Emergent Energy Group, to creating a peer-to-peer lending platform, UniThrive. Levant Power, founded by MIT senior Shakeel Avadhany caught the attention of the U.S. military with a groundbreaking product called GenShock. The product harvests the wasted energy of vehicle suspension to generate electric power, which can then be used for fuel-efficiency gains. They are currently developing a product for the next generation Humvee and the heavy trucking industry.