When Ankur Jain bursts into a room, his energy is practically contagious. Such was the case when I met the 20-year-old for coffee two weeks ago at the W Hotel in San Francisco.
Jain, a Wharton student who is graduating this spring, was in town to discuss Kairos Society, an international, student-run organization that he founded in 2007 to gather students globally around entrepreneurship, and more specifically, get them thinking about profitable ventures that also happen to solve world problems.
What he has pulled off is impressive. Indeed, right now, a group of 350 students, including from China, India, and Saudi Arabia, is roaming the streets of New York as part of the “Kairos Global Summit,” a swanky annual affair that brings Kairos’s student-entrepreneur members face to face with both potential business opportunities, as well as an impressive array of political and business leaders.
To gather a better understanding of how the transportation industry works, for example, they’re touring the Ports of New York and New Jersey today. Over the weekend, they’ll also speaking in experts in literacy, education, healthcare and clean water.
Among the high-profile names involved in the Summit are senior White House advisor Doug Rand, X Prize chairman Peter Diamandis, NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer, and Powerset founder Barney Pell, who is today the chief architect of Bing Local Search.
Whether the weekend – or the organization – has an impact on the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs is a little hard to say, but a number of interesting ideas has already emerged from the connections that 4-year-old Kairos has fostered. Just one of them is the Uno (pictured), an impressively weird vehicle that’s both unicycle and motorcycle and was designed for easy storage. (The supposed world benefit? “Reduced parking footprints.”) Ben Gulak, a former M.I.T. student who was a Kairos fellow while in college, is the company’s founder and chairman.
Whatever the future of Kairos, one senses that we’ll be hearing much more about Jain, who smiles broadly, speaks a mile a minute, and seems to genuinely believe that Kairos can meaningfully and positive affect the lives of its hundreds of fellows. In fact, Jain already has numerous job offers, though he declined to discuss them publicly for fear of offending the parties involved.
Jain comes by his charisma naturally, by the way. He’s the son of the Naveen Jain, the onetime Internet wunderkind who famously founded and took public Infospace. (Like many dot.coms, its rise was remarkable; so was its fall.) Jain went on to found the Internet information company Intelius in 2003.