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A look at the history and future of Kairos.

By Alex Fiance, CEO, Kairos Society

The Evolution of Kairos

I’ll never forget my first Kairos Global Summit, seeing the Kairos 50 demoing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2013. At that moment, I saw firsthand that the Kairos community is not aspirational, but rather a collection of pioneers who are both dreamers and doers. Rather than talking about how they could solve significant problems, Kairos entrepreneurs had already built the prototypes.

Since then, our team has gained a strong conviction that if Kairos is about solving pressing challenges through entrepreneurship, our collective success is dependent on Kairos companies scaling globally, finding their customers, and building sustainable businesses.

In other words, building things that the world needs is just part of the solution --- startups must also achieve market adoption to reach millions (or billions) of people. This is capitalism as a force for good.

We sprang from non-profit roots, but as we found ourselves digging in further each year to help the Kairos 50 in areas such as fundraising and customer acquisition, we were inhibited by our legal status to meet the demands of Kairos companies. Key growth areas like customer development and fundraising are not 501(c)3 activities, and hence we were consistently advised (by lawyers, advisors, and entrepreneurs alike) that the best path is to create an additional entity for Kairos.

With that in mind, we founded Kairos Society PBC. We can now drive more business outcomes for entrepreneurs, helping the Kairos community find partners, source deals, and discover career opportunities. All public benefit corporations have a “stated public benefit,” and ours is dedicated to growing startups that solve significant problems. 

The 501(c)3 foundation will remain active, with the mission of creating merit-based opportunities and scholarships for young entrepreneurs worldwide.

What We’ve Learned

Our definition of success changes as entrepreneurs progress through their Kairos journey. At the community level, if a Kairos fellow ends up taking a job at SpaceX, we know that moves the needle, as the brightest young minds should be working on the biggest challenges.

However, once a company gets selected and recognized as a Kairos 50, we want to help prove to the world that young entrepreneurs can find success outside of highly publicized spaces like social networking and entertainment, and can make significant progress in areas like education, healthcare, and robotics --- industries that fundamentally impact the human experience.

Raising capital is an early milestone on a long and arduous journey to build a business. We know there are many organizations and accelerators that help fill this gap. Yet, even when properly funded, the best products and technologies often struggle to find market adoption, as distribution and customer development can be heavily dependent on both relationships and marketing.

Kairos’ PBC arm provides business development for high-impact startups. Once an entrepreneur’s product is ready for the world, we work to help them get pilots and beta users through our immediate community, as well as get them in front of the right audiences (both on stage and digitally) to increase their reach and awareness.

Staying true to the original mission and the business of the organization, we’ll also be maintaining a heavy investment into building our community. We believe in a world in which the most talented entrepreneurs can access merit-based opportunities to grow their businesses and become role models in their local ecosystems.

We’ve seen firsthand the immense value that young entrepreneurs gain from peer-to-peer support and knowledge sharing. Being a part of a global community of like-minded peers can help any young entrepreneur get the resources to defy the odds.

Introducing Our Investors

For the first time ever, we raised investment capital directly into Kairos Society, which has enabled us to grow the team and increase our capacity to build the community and add value to Kairos companies.

Given that our core goal is to help Kairos entrepreneurs acquire customers, pilot projects, and users, we set out to find mission-aligned partners whose expertise spans nearly every industry and geography.

As you browse this new website, you’ll can get to know the investors, partners, and advisors who have backed us on this vision and are eager to engage with Kairos entrepreneurs. All of these individuals are now our business partners, and they came on board because they believe in the potential of the Kairos community to bring high-impact ventures to market.

How We Measure Success

Our business model is simple, and, the sustainability and success of our company is dependent on three key factors:

  • RELATIONSHIPS - Our ability to drive business outcomes by connecting our partners with the entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and designers who will shape our future
  • ENGAGEMENT - The value we add to our community members on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis so they can build relationships that can help them grow personally and professionally
  • MARKET TRACTION - The success of Kairos companies in building a product that solves a real problem and reaches wider markets, with the end goal being an IPO or M&A event

In summary, our events and partnership programs drive revenue that enables us to fund the team and platform, while our long-term strategy is built on equity relationships with a select group of ventures each year.

Entrepreneurs, if you decide to partner with us and join our portfolio, our model ensures that we are invested in your long-term success. Unlike a fund, we are not bound by any specific return horizon, meaning we want to help you carve out the best path to market, whether that’ll be realized in 2016 or 2020.

For the individuals who enter our community as regional executives and Kairos fellows, know that we will continue our intense focus on facilitating real business relationships and increase both the quality and quantity of resources available to you. Everyone joins our community by merit, 100% for free, and the new equity model is something that a limited number of companies can opt-in to each year.

For the partners and investors who come to Kairos seeking the best of the next generation, know that our ability to build more infrastructure and grow the team will only increase our capacity to introduce you to the brightest young minds.

A Reflection on the Founding Vision

Kairos was founded on a bold vision: “what if the leaders of today were friends 30 years ago, working together to solve the world’s biggest challenges?” Inspired by the idea of this collective future, hundreds of individuals stepped up to bring Kairos to their local ecosystem and build communities of young entrepreneurs tackling the biggest challenges.

Between 2009 and 2014 we grew rapidly, expanding our presence from 14 schools in the US to over 50 countries and 100 universities. Along the way, we’ve watched strong regional communities develop, extending from NorCal to the Netherlands, from Canada to India.

Kairos has and always will be about the people. Within the community, we’ve seen Kairos fellows meet their cofounders, discover new markets to form businesses, and even talk their friends out of starting businesses. Into the future, we'll continue connect to our community past and present to continue the cycle of supporting the leaders of the future.

We recognize that, as we evolve as a company, we’d be nowhere without the countless individuals who played a role in building this platform and community.

Thank You's

Countless young leaders have poured thousands of volunteer hours into the Kairos Society, are we are immensely grateful for the opportunity to build on top of this foundation.

To Ankur Jain, founder and Chairman, for having the vision and persistence to inspire a movement and rally today’s leaders behind the next generation of entrepreneurs.

To everyone who’s taken the leap to work on the Kairos team and pursue this mission professionally:

Josh Wong, Karolina Stawinska, Kelly Baldwin, Miles Bird, Aaron Barker, Taylor Rowe, Daniel Teweles, Tony Chen, Doug Gould, Erinne Grant, Laura Evans, Ryan Bloomer, Zac Oransky, Jeremy Fiance, Stoyan Vasilev, Magdalena Stawinska, Orion de Nevers, Ethan Gromet, Emily Gran, Thomas Hague, Vedika Jain

To the original founding crew, who had the passion and energy to build a community from the ground up

Jake Medwell, David Wyler, Jaclyn Noble, Ryder Fyrwald, Alex Debelov, Ted Gonder, Vishal Lugani

To all the regional leaders and executives from past years, who have helped us discover some of the world’s most inspiring young entrepreneurs and sustain the diversity and global reach of Kairos

Adrienne Tran, Alex Kern, Alex Lopera, Alexandra Abbas, Alydaar Rangwala, Andras Tessényi, André Albuquerque, Andrea Spaggiari, Angelo Min Tagliabue, Anum Anwer, Apurv Agarwal, Ari Cohen, Arjun Mali, Arun Agarwal, Austin Kevitch, Balazs Szabo, Becca Goldstein, Ben Biron, Blake MacDonald, Boris Kiknadze, Bruno Pinhiero de Melo, Carl Shan, Carlos Miceli, Caroline Pugh, Cherie Liang, Chris Alvarez, Cival Van der Lubbe, Christopher Pruijsen, Claudio Quintana, Dani Van de Sande, Daniel Gross, Daniel Horak, Daniel Pourbaba, David Acs, David Khosroshvili, Desmond Choi, Dexter Zhuang, Diego Arroyo, Dylan Reid, Elizabeth Schieffelin, Erasmus Mweene, Eric Walisko, Eric Walter, Erica Lee, Francis Chiwunda, Francisco Carvalho Araujo, Francisco Salgado, Francisco Cabral, Franziska Becker, Frithjof Wegener, Golam Kibrea, Hajnalka Hejja, Hemant Sahal, Holly Ormseth, Ian Han, Imtiaz Majeed, Ivo Sluganovic, Jeff Chen, Jeroen Offerijns, Jian Min Sim, Jonathan Shriftman, Josh Birdwell, Josh Rosenheck, Kamil Adamczyk, Lech Bakhuizen van den Brink, Lucas Koster, Lujie Chen, Maddie McKinley, Magnus Petersen-Paaske, Marc Berruezo, Marielle Marki, Matthias Meier, Max Song, Mayank Jain, Michael Lei, Michael Maiorano, Michiel Cambron, Miriam Neubauer, Morgan Fabian, Nadine Bongaerts, Natalia Gonchavez, Neslihan Feradov, Nikola Yanev, Patrick Ip, Pedro Conceição, Pierre-Simon Ntiruhungwa, Pippa Biddle, Priyanka Jain, Rachel Ford, Rebecca Kantar, Riley Ennis, Robin Bhaduri, Samantha Smith, Santhosh Narayan, Santosh Yellajosula, Sarah Tulin, Scott Haber, Sebastian Bruce, Shem Shaikh, Shilpi Kumar, Sizwe Ndlovu, Steve Mnich, Teague Egan, Titiaan Palazzi, Tom Raviv, Vanessa Butz, Vanessa Restrepo Schild, Victoria Schramm, Vince Fong, Vlad Antohi, Wade Song, Walter Rivera, William Edem Senyo, Xiaochang Wang, Yoni Ofir, Yori Kamphuis, Zainab Ali, Zoltan Marcsinak

***Again, I’m sorry if I missed anyone!

To the alumni who remind us every day of the potential of entrepreneurship to push the world forward

Aaron Goldstein, Adam Lipecz, AJ Cihla, AJ Forsythe, Alex Debelov, Angel Say, Archit Bhise, Arron Acosta, Ben Gulak, Betsy Núnez, Brandon Liu, Brennen Byrne, Caroline Pugh, Charlie Jacobson, Christopher Bradley, Clinton D. Mutambo, Colleen Costello,  Connor Landgraf, Corey Levy, Cosmin Mihaiu, Curren Krasnoff, Daniel Fine, Daniel Gomez, Daniel Ruyak, David Carrico, David Chen, Delian Asparouhov, Dinesh Wadhwani, Dmitry Aksenov, Doug Coughran, Douglas Hoernle, Eamon Jubbawy, Eden Full, Eddie De La Cruz, Ellen Su, Emily Núnez, Gabriel Blanchet, Gary Kurek, Giels Brouwer, Harshil Goel, Harry Gandhi, Henry Bradlow, Inigo Rumayor, John Lewandowski, Jesse Pollak, Johann Huber, Jonathan Hefter, Johnathan Schwartz, Jordan Greene, Kayvon Beykpour, Kenny Nguyen, Kevin Rustagi, Khaled Naim, Kurt Workman, Louis-Victor Jadavji, Mark Pavlyukovskyy, Merrill Lutsky, Miguel Andorffy, Mike Schmidt, Mikhail Naumov, Nanxi Liu, Nikita Bier, Noor Siddiqui, Patrick Coughran, Patrick Ip, Raheem Bello, Rasmus Davidsen, Rebecca Hinds, Sam Shames, Shakeel Avadhany, Sonia Agarwal, Spencer Hewitt, Tal Azouri, Theodora Koullias, Tim Hwang, Vinnie Ramesh, Will Drevno, Will Drevo, Will Senyo, William Zhou, Zach Hargreaves

To the leaders who will continue to push Kairos forward, we’re excited to welcome you into the Kairos community.

Alex Fiance
Kairos Society
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