There's no shot in the arm like being around a bunch of kids who want to change the world.
The Kairos Society, which describes itself as "an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation ... Kairos fosters a culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship," was founded by 21-year old, Ankur Jain. Jain, a recent Wharton grad has created a potential juggernaut of students from all over the world -- all looking to "do well by doing good." This is a business model I can get behind.
A study touted at Kairos said that these Kairos members were comprised of 61 percent "rules challengers" only 6 percent of whom were highly motivated by money. These are two of my favorite entrepreneurial characteristics. God help Kairos if some savvy VC firm gets their hooks into the membership.
Kairos had their annual "Global Summit" in NYC last week and I must say it was one of the best-orchestrated, most exhilarating events, held at the best venues, that I've attended. The Summit was hosted in partnership with The United Nations and The New York Stock Exchange. The Forbes Family Foundation and The Rockefeller Family Estate were also contributors.
On Friday, more than 500 students, mentors and entrpreneurs took over the New York Academy of Medicine on 5th avenue and it's venerable halls became a Petrie dish of youthful enterprise.
On Saturday, the Kairos gang took over the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. During the day the floor was transformed into a trade show of the young peoples' business dreams with tables and mini-booths encircling the famous trading floor. Many Kairos members had to feel the dream that someday, someway, they would be taking their companies public on the NYSE and ringing that famous bell from the balcony.
At night, the NYSE floor was turned into a giant cocktail party with some attendees joining a conga line and parading through the NYSE floor triumphantly.
Interesting break-out sessions filled both afternoons with strong mentors taking the lead and exhorting break-out groups to focus in on one problem and build a business plan to solve it. A final pitch to all the bigger group members was an indicator of the statesmanship of some of the nascent social entrepreneurs in attendance.
There were a wide smattering of student entrepreneurs from Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and the U.S. The Netherlands for example, boxed well above their weight with 31 attendees. Students from Penn, MIT, Northwestern, Georgetown, Cornell, Brown, RISD, Wharton, Stanford and many others all around the globe were all buzzing with excitement about their businesses focused on solving specific world problems.
There were so many compelling, enlightening, encouraging and frankly, corny as it may sound, uplifting stories to be told from Kairos, that I'll be writing short blurbs over the next few weeks on a few of the participants I met and got to know.