Into the future with the Kairos Society

Kairos Summit 2010 85This weekend a horde of entrepreneurs and business leaders will lay siege to New York’s financial district as part of the Kairos Global Summit.

Over the next 48 hours, 350 student entrepreneurs will mingle with high-profile mentors in their field at the New York Stock Exchange, the United Nations (both partners of the summit) and the Rockefeller Estate in upstate New York to brainstorm practical solutions for a better future.

The event is the brainchild of 20-year-old Ankur Jain, founder of the non-profit Kairos Society that organizes the summit. Jain, who graduates from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania this year, started the society when he was a freshman in college. The thrust of the Kairos Society is to create companies that build a sustainable and good future. (Kairos is an ancient Greek word that means the opportune moment.)

“We’re all in college and everyone is so damn Wall Street focused, so I wanted to take all these really bright students and allow them to create their own destiny,” Jain said. “We need job creation and innovation right now and we are creating jobs and economic value while taking on world problems.”

Since its inception in 2008, the Kairos Society has acquired just under 700 fellows, including alumni. They come from 18 different colleges around the world including China, India and Europe. Past and present mentors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former president Bill Clinton, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange Duncan Niederauer, Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield Bruce Mosler, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo and many more.

Citibank: Small business cautiously optimistic

Small business owners are showing increased confidence in the economic recovery, but they’re still not willing to pull the trigger on hiring new workers, according to a new survey by Citibank.

“Optimism is definitely up,” said Raj Seshadri, who heads Citi’s small business banking division. “We’re not out of the woods. They’re worried about costs, particularly the cost of healthcare, the cost of raw materials – how they’re going to manage through the increasing cost of running their business.”

The majority of owners said they believe 2011 will be better (44 percent) or the same (42 percent) than 2010, while just 15 percent expect it to be worse, according to the poll. It included a random sample of 1,002 small businesses throughout the country with revenue in excess of $100,000.

Entrepreneur creates green bed bug spray

bed bug magic

Fred Feldman likes to show how safe his bed bug treatment, Bed Bug Magic, is by spraying it on his hand and then licking it off.

“Most people go ‘eww,’ but I do it 90 percent of the time,” said Feldman, who sells the bug treatment as part of a line of environmentally-friendly cleaning products offered by his company Green Blaster. “(It shows that) it’s non-toxic, you can drink it and not have to have your stomach pumped.”

Feldman realized during the development of his other cleaning products that bed bugs are an epidemic and a solution was needed that was safe for kids (he has five grandchildren) and pets.

How to “Startup America”

– Daniel Isenberg is Professor of Management Practice at Babson Global and founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project. Dr. Isenberg has been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, consultant, and educator, having taught at Harvard, Columbia, Technion, INSEAD, and Reykjavik. –

The White House recently convened an unprecedented consortium of public and private entities to announce the launch of Startup America. The purpose was to galvanize a coordinated effort to define and implement President Obama’s vision and strategy to foster entrepreneurship and provide more push to the United States’ economic development.

Startup America has a lot going for it: a broad group of influential entrepreneurship stakeholders, real entrepreneurs at the heart of the dialogue, a sincerely committed president and an independent convening S.W.A.T. team who are making entrepreneurship a top priority and a powerful, well-connected, smart board with a smart-looking interim CEO. In my book, Startup America has gotten the basics right; I don’t take this lightly – my observations of more than two dozen countries is that very few have done even this.

Entrepreneur says youth must create their own jobs

When Brown University student Walker Williams had difficulty finding part-time job listings, his response was to launch his own job-search website, Jobzle.com. But a crucial factor in transforming the website from a hobby to a business was the funding it got through startup accelerator Betaspring.

“It gave us the money, the offices, resource space and mentorship to focus on the product 100 percent,” the 22-year-old Williams said.

The Young Entrepreneur Council is one organization that aims to support entrepreneurs through ways such as education. Given the high youth unemployment rate – more than half of Americans aged 16 to 24 were unemployed according to a July 2010 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – founder Scott Gerber is a firm believer that youth must create their own jobs.

It’s not a bubble, people; It’s a pyramid scheme

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared on PE Hub. The views expressed are her own. –

Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about bubbles, having profited handsomely from an earlier Internet boom. But ask him if we’re seeing Bubble 2.0 and he’ll give you a different theory.

“It’s almost the 2011 version of a private equity chain letter,” said Cuban, who sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion and went on to buy the the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

6 ways to make your small business look bigger

– Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Skooba Design, which develops and produces custom products for other companies, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. This article first appeared on BNET. The views expressed are his own. –

Some people say “fake it ‘til you make it,” but I think that cliché has an unnecessary air of phoniness about it. Still, if you are starting up or running a small business, making your company look bigger and more established to the outside world can have dramatic results.

Mind you, I am in no way suggesting misrepresenting yourself or your company, nor advocating flash over substance. And I’m certainly not suggesting that you behave like a big, impersonal corporation. What I am saying is that image does matter, and you should cast your business in the best possible light. To me, the more fitting chestnut is “dress for success.”

Koofers develops virtual study hall

Koofers, which refers to itself as a “social learning company,” has developed a platform that creates a virtual study hall for college students.

The Reston, Virginia-based startup, bankrolled by $7 million in venture funding including support from AOL co-founder Steve Case, is tapping into cutting-edge trends in higher education centered on online resource sharing. Koofers facilitates student interaction in virtual space by providing free digital resources such as online access to coursework.

“We provide an online platform for college students to collaborate with each other around academics – connect with each other, share past exams, study guides, notes,” said Koofers CEO Gio Hunt. “We’re really tied into the way students are thinking about content.”

10 small business tax mistakes that will cost you

Donna Fenn has more than 20 years experience writing about entrepreneurship and small business trends. She is the author of “Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success“. This article originally appeared on BNET. The views expressed are her own. –

There’s not an entrepreneur on the planet who likes thinking about taxes. I know, it’s only February, so you’re likely still in deep denial about April 15. But it’s time to get organized. Almost every aspect of your business has tax ramifications and if you don’t know what they are, you’re inviting trouble down the road (can you say “audit?”).

For tips, I recently spoke to Sandy Botkin, a CPA, attorney, former trainer of IRS attorneys, and the CEO of The Tax Reduction Institute in Germantown, Maryland. He’s also the author of “Lower Your Taxes — Big Time 2011-2012”. Botkin shared 10 common tax misconceptions that both fledgling and experienced small business owners are guilty of. How many of these phrases have you uttered?

Innovation is how we make our living: Is China buying?

A wind turbine is seen near a gate of the ancient city of Wushu in Diaobingshan, Liaoning province January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Sheng Li

– Tom Lyon is the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, and Peter Adriaens is a professor of entrepreneurship at the Zell Lurie Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, both at the University of Michigan. The views expressed are their own. –

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech, called for America to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” But who is the competition, exactly? Who is presenting “our generation’s Sputnik moment”? Who are we racing against to put a million electric vehicles on the road? The president’s answer: China.

Encouraging American innovation is a major piece of the president’s strategy to win the future. And a global leadership position in innovation is ours to lose.