Ankur Jain is the founder and chairman of the Kairos Society. The Kairos Society is an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation based in the United States that brings passionate young entrepreneurs together from all over the world and asks them to tackle the worlds toughest challenges. Ankur doesn’t just believe that they can solve these challenges, he also believes that by fostering inside tomorrow’s leaders a belief that they will do well by doing good, that they will impact the quality of life for the global population on a large scale.
I saw Ankur and a panel of four Kairos fellows speak at the World Innovation Forum in New York. The audience responded warmly to the success stories of these young 20-somethings. One of them was building bio-robotic controls to manipulate the movement of insects with an xbox controller. Another built a solar powered bench that was simultaneously a wifi hub, charging station, and CO2 emissions reporter, that incidentally changes colors when you sit next to someone. One had started million dollar companies. To accomplish so much in so little time is on one hand laudable, and on the other disgraceful for the rest of us (myself included) who are jealous that we did not take better advantage of those limitless years in our own lives.
Individually, any of their stories would have been an example of remarkable success and worthy of praise. What Kairos aims to do is bring together people of this caliber from all walks of life. These youths have the skill, the intuition, and the creativity to build amazing things. They are researching potential robotics solutions to nerve damage, building startup ventures that go somewhere, and building smart cities where others have already conceded defeat and impossibility. They have perspective to see problems in an entirely new light because they aren’t bogged down by what the solution should look like. So what’s stopping them from doing something globally meaningful- like stepping up to the world stage and solving global access to affordable healthcare? Is it organization? Is it national boundaries? It obviously isn’t ambition for these men and women. Ankur would argue that all they lack to make significant contributions to the world’s largest challenges, today, is information.
This is where the leaders of today come in. I do not mean to imply that these role models are doing nothing to solve these global issues. On the contrary, many have dedicated their lives to helping where they can, and to understanding the intricacies of the problem. Many of these advocates, despite their efforts, independently recognize that it will be a future generation that will have to be responsible for picking up the gauntlet and solving those challenges. So Ankur asks, “When can we get started? Who says we have to wait?”
The Kairos Society has hosted private global summits around the world that have brought together fellows from across the United States, China, India, the Middle East, Mexico, and Europe to join world leaders including Duncan Niederauer (CEO, NYSE), Admiral William Owens (Former Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff), Peter Diamandis (Chairman, X-Prize Foundation), Phil Condit (Former CEO, Boeing), Ellen Kullman (CEO, Dupont), and others. The third global summit held in 2011 at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, and Rockefeller Estate brought 350 fellows with 150 leaders to find opportunities to create billion dollar ventures that tackle global challenges. Other recent summit included the World Foresight Forum in the Hague Netherlands and a China Summit in Hangzhou, China.
What are the problems that they are solving?
I wish I could go back to college and get involved in something like that. If you do too, then join me in supporting these incredible young people. Check out their companies. I am confident that they will change the world.