This Company Finds Tough Problems In the World, Then Launches Startups to Solve Them

Kairos is a company that creates companies. And those companies have a mission: Solve the problems that really need solving.
Source: Amanda Friedman
Amanda Friedman

On a recent sun-drenched spring afternoon, Daniel Mishin is strolling through the townhouse in Manhattan’s West Village where he lives, works and, if time allows, plays. It reeks of Manhattan real estate envy -- lofty ceilings, wooden staircases, gleaming appliances, capped off with a roof deck and a back porch. Trees line the street, where the Waverly Inn peeks through from the view on the front stoop.

Related: The Complete, 12-Step Guide to Starting a Business

Most enviable is the price tag: Residents here pay $1,900 a month per private room, roughly 20 to 40 percent below the area average for a shared apartment -- but the price includes cleaning services, security deposit, internet, utilities and even some toiletries (among them a very lovely hand soap). “Adult dorms? We don’t play that game,” says Mishin, who is as crisp and friendly as his surroundings. “This is a home.” 

His neighbors know they have Mishin to thank for the living arrangement. It’s the product of his company, Residenz, which aims to create affordable urban housing for young professionals. But many residents may not be aware that there’s a force behind Residenz -- and it’s the same force behind a growing number of buzzy startups run by young, ambitious founders.

It’s called Kairos. In the past 18 months, it has produced four startups and invested in 16 more, and it has aggressive plans to keep growing.

Kairos (Greek for “opportunity”) is a decade-old, New York-based concern with origins that are not surprising (Wharton) but an approach that is. The company is part venture capital, part mentoring group, part elite society, and it’s leading a war of ideas aimed at the kind of young entrepreneurs who would traditionally be lured into the highly paid, snack-filled sanctuaries of Silicon Valley’s Notification Industrial Complex. Kairos’ very different pitch goes like this: There is enormous untapped opportunity, can literally change people’s lives. The key to success there is to reverse the typical Valley development process. Rather than create a product and then sell it to consumers, Kairos wants founders to identify real problems faced by consumers and then engineer their solutions.


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