December 10, 2011
With the struggling economy and lack of jobs around the country, we are seeing a rise in student entrepreneurship. Apparently students today are not content with just trusting their luck at getting a job after graduation day. And as students take matters into their own hands, they are also organizing, forming clubs where they can learn and help each other.
One such organization, The Kairos Society, has not only grown and served to help entrepreneurially-minded students, but is also evolving in it’s own right – they just announced “The Kairos 50.” The new program serves to highlight 50 of the most innovative new companies launched by undergraduates each year across education, clean energy, tech, commerce and other sectors. Students that make the Kairos 50 list will be invited to a global summit in New York City, with their new ventures unveiled on the floor of the stock exchange to a distinguished crowd of business leaders and press. Like other networking organization, the winning companies will have unlimited access to the Kairos network of students, mentors, executives, and press worldwide throughout the year.
We thought taking a closer look at The Kairos Society would help us better understand this trend, so we reached out to Victoria Schramm, President of the Kairos Society at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Schramm oversees daily operations of the organization and maintains the Kairos global network. Before becoming president, Victoria served as Chief of Staff of Kairos – she was also the Founder and Executive Fellow of Kairos at Georgetown. Upon graduation, she hopes to embark on her own venture.
Tech Cocktail (TC): How did Kairos Society get it’s start?
Victoria Schramm (VS): Kairos Society was started in 2009 by a sophomore at Wharton. It was started with the vision to unite students who thought entrepreneurially and felt like they needed a community of like-minded individuals that was not available on campus. It quickly spread to Babson and USC, and now we are at over 25 universities in the US and over 18 countries in the world.
TC: Can you share the vision of Kairos Society and how you plan to realize that vision?
VS: My vision for Kairos is to foster a culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship by engaging our Global Fellows with a variety of industry and thought leaders of all realms to inspire and help create change. To me, there are so many students who feel isolated and cannot pursue their ventures because they do not have the support of their peers and their mentors on campus. Kairos is the solution to this problem – we are a network of incredibly inspiring individuals and supportive mentors, and we will always be exactly that.
TC: Five years from now after you have graduated and moved on, where would you like to see Kairos Society?
VS: After I have graduated, I hope to continue to see Kairos as a unique organization for the smartest students of our generation. Imagine that the world’s leaders today were best friends when they were in their twenties…that’s what Kairos is and will always be. I hope our Fellows will continue to be of an exceptional caliber, starting high-impact, high-growth ventures. It is important to me that our Global Fellows never lose the passion and grit that we all possess and will truly solve our generation’s biggest challenges through entrepreneurship.
TC: Can you share some interesting projects or stories that Kairos Society has been involved in over the years?
VS: We are constantly planning new events and opportunities for our fellows to come together throughout all of our countries. It’s important to me that we are involved in all of our countries at an international level, that it’s not just an international organization from a US perspective. We have just built our own internal social network where our Global Fellows can interact with one another on a private platform, learning about one another’s interests, building relationships and partnerships, and scaling their companies across countries.
TC: What is the significance of the Kairos 50?
VS: Although there are hundreds of “top” lists that are published regularly, our team realized there was no list that was solely student-run. Kairos is the perfect organization to publish the first annual list of the top 50 best student-run companies in the world. The list is open to all organizations that are run by students, and we are picking the most promising businesses that will solve problems that our world is facing.
Applications are currently being collected for the Kairos 50. So nominate your favorite student lead businesses before December 20th, then stay tuned for the list in early February.
Photo credit mobilize.org.
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