The 2013 ‘Genius Holiday Gift Guide

What do smart toys, biodegradable shoes and popcorn have in common?

Each of these companies presented at House of Genius, and are now part of our 2013 ‘Genius gift guide!  This season give our entrepreneurs some love as you check off your gift list. Happy Holidays!


Ubooly, a magical stuffed animal that talks and listens. Ubooly is smartphone-powered and adapts to the child. (Colorado)

Leather Head Sports, distinctive, finely crafted American leather sporting goods. (New York)

Imagine Childhood, earth-friendly goods outfitting children for life’s adventures. (Colorado)


GamBita, curating the best petite-friendly clothes for women 5’4″ and under. (New York)

KnoClothing, fashioned to end homelessness. Your KNO purchase provides an article of clothing to someone in need and supports over 180 different communities across the US. (New York)

Wine4theWorld, discover winemakers from surprising regions of the world. (Minneapolis)

Cisse Trading Co., fair trade and fully traceable hot cocoa and baking mixes. (New York)

Oat Shoes, maker of OATies, the world’s first biodegradable babyshoes. Plant outgrown shoes together with seeds to start baby’s tree of life right from these shoes! (Amsterdam)


Happy Milk, clothing designed with nursing mothers in mind. (Istanbul)

Xero Shoes, the fun and benefits of barefoot running with added protection. (Colorado)

Muku Labs, remote shutter for #selfies! for tablet and smartphone. (Hong Kong)

Hot Straw, the only straw for hot drinks, is a healthier way to drink hot liquids with a plastic reusable straw, thanks to the leach-free materials of the design. (Colorado)

PawLyte, urban techwear for dogs. (Seattle)

Paris Texas Apparel Co., a clothing company that celebrates the history and heritage of Texas. (Austin, of course!)

MovieLala, for relaxing after holiday shopping! A social network for movie fans to discover upcoming movies through friends and favorite stars. (San Francisco)


House of Genius goes mobile to create more of a good thing

House of Genius “Active Network” an answer to the frequently asked question, “I’ve been to a live session… Now what?”

– Contributed by Toma Bedolla, Cofounder

A consistent inquiry that arises across the entire ‘Genius neighborhood is what happens after the lights go off on another collaborative session? I hear this almost as often as I hear people ask, “can I come to the next one?”. Quotes and testimonials are great, but it’s these questions that I think represent our greatest compliment, shedding light on what I believe is our greatest opportunity…to create the world’s first “active network.”

App Mockup

This concept is an evolving one, something we refine with every conversation, dialogue and debate about the idea. The tene
ts of this idea are simple:
  1. Networking is broken or is at least a highly unproductive endeavor, i.e., poor/risky returns on time investment
  2. Geographic limitations still apply in spite of social graph platforms like LinkedIn, especially for entrepreneurs.
  3. A network, not just the nodes within the network, should be capable of making intelligent connections when prompted.
It does not matter who you are, what you do or where you are when it comes to collaborating effectively to address (often solving) entrepreneurial challenges. This fact has played out time and again, regardless of the nation or credentials in the room. It’s time we take the secret sauce of what happens now in 17 cities globally along with everyone who has contributed/presented/organized ‘Genius sessions and bring it all together. Our foundation for what we believe with the help of technology will become the genesis of an active network.
Our initial stab at the platform will begin with a mobile application that will be quite basic (apply for sessions and receive updates) with a follow on feature add to allow Directors/Organizers to send push notification invites for last minute fill-ins.
We’d certainly welcome the neighborhood’s feedback as we begin to iterate on this application and growing platform. Check back often for exciting news of a rollout. Stay in touch via our newsletter.

Now Seeking: ‘Genius City Director for Sydney, Australia

House of Genius is looking for: City Director, Sydney Australia

‘Genius partners with local volunteer organizers in cities around the world to create diverse, collaborative gatherings to help entrepreneurs succeed. City directors are community-oriented “do-ers” with a passion for seeing great ideas thrive. We are entrepreneur-led, and our local organizations are 100% volunteer-run and sponsor-driven.

This individual will represent House of Genius in Sydney, manage an organizing team, help achieve our mission to create highly collaborative experiences for entrepreneurs and community leaders, and set and meet funding objectives through sponsorships.

Know someone who might be a great fit? Email us today!

Immediate Impact: House of Genius NYC

Mika Bulmash presented her company, Wine For The World, at the first House of Genius NYC – Manhattan session – May 2013.  She was seeking advice on marketing strategies for their Indiegogo crowd-funding project which ends on May 31st, 2013. 

What an honor.

Two weeks ago, I was one of three entrepreneurs to be selected for the first House of Genius NYC – Manhattan session. Jorge mentioned that he was interested in having me present because we are using design innovations to solve broader problems for global good.

Wine for the World is a premium wine brand with a social mission. We partner some of the most highly acclaimed winemakers in the U.S. with emerging winemakers from developing nations to create high-quality, meaningful wines. Using wine as an instrument for professional and economic development, we strive to build bridges and open the U.S. market to talented winemakers abroad.

Here’s how my time with House of Genius worked: I presented a five-minute PowerPoint on Wine for the World to a panel of 16-18 anonymous professionals. Anonymity among the entire group was strictly enforced, and key (not to mention intriguing). After the presentation and a quick Q&A, the panelists each provided me with their thoughts, suggestions, and comments based on my “ask” to them. Beyond the simple intrigue of not knowing who was in the room, this meritocracy-designed platform enabled all of us to listen to each person’s feedback at face-value. This is an important opportunity for entrepreneurs to do something necessary but sometimes impossible when presenting – just listen. And listen with an open mind in a well-designed forum composed by a group whose only agenda is to help you. And approaching problem-solving in this fashion – by inviting professionals from an array of fields – is refreshing.

Here’s why it helped me: My “ask” for the group was directly related to a time-sensitive need. Wine for the World is implementing an active crowdfunding campaign through the end of the month (May 31st, 2013 – a few more days!), and has been starting to pique the interest of press. I asked for their thoughts on our approach and any additional suggestions. Many people in the room were interested in what we’re doing.

Less than two weeks later, Dan, an organizer of House of Genius NYC,  helped me on UX for our website. A feature on one of our winemakers was published on The Daily Muse. I met separately with Tim Peek - a senior executive from NBC , Naomi Zinner – a marketing rep from a large PR firm, and attended an event by another inspiring panelist/sponsor of House of Genius Manhattan – Judith Clegg the CEO of Takeout. I have additional follow up this week and next, and truly look forward to remaining in touch with the talented group of individuals that were in the room. I also look forward to my brunch date with fellow presenter, BurnchCritic!

All panelists seemed impressively intuitive and after learning who they were, I was not surprised. The most remarkable part of this experience for me was just how interested they were in helping. They truly do want to provide the best inputs possible.

I feel honored to have participated in the first House of Genius, Manhattan, session, and look forward to remaining engaged with this community going forward.

Wine for the World is crowdsourcing their first release of wine through May 31. You can support them by visiting their Indiegogo page, or the Wine For The World website.

About Mika Bulmash
A former international development program manager who has worked with non-profits and for-profit companies in agriculture, food security, and public health, Mika has a significant passion for wine. What started as a leap of faith by leaving her Washington, DC job and working a wine harvest in South Africa has turned into her teaming up with top winemakers abroad and at home, a stellar advisory board, Stephen Satterfield at ISAW, an awesome team at Wine for the World, and other partners along the way for additional industry support.

Boundary areas: House of Genius NYC

Tim Peek was a panelist at the first Manhattan session of House of Genius NYC. This was Tim’s second time appearing on a House of Genius NYC panel. Here are some of Tim’s thoughts from our May 2013 panel in Manhattan:

It’s the boundary areas where the cool stuff happens – whether it’s the rich ecosystem of marshlands, the exciting no-man’s-lands of international borders or the meeting of virtual and real businesses.

The latest (and inaugural) House of Genius Manhattan gathering focused on that virtual melting pot with three entrepreneurs who are building their business in the space where the web meets the street: Moveline, a web service that brokers the best household moving deal for consumers; Wine For the World, a business that seeks to combine wine consumers with economic development; and Brunch Critic, a site devoted to finding the perfect brunch spot.

Each faced a specific challenge around business development and each was looking to crowd-source some answers. But not from just any crowd. And that’s the genius of House of Genius. The event creates genius ideas not by bringing together geniuses (though there were many in the room that night) but by gathering a diverse group of real-world practitioners, keeping everything except their first names secret, and then giving them a tight deadline to take their best shot at the problem.

That’s the secret sauce: smart people, interesting problems, no titles or resumes to obscure good thinking and a tight time limit to prevent bloviating.

On this evening, the panel came up with ways for Moveline to identify and attract corporate HR departments to lower their relocation costs and improve quality for employees; tactics for telling Wine For the World’s story in a way that attracts funding; and market differentiation and conversion techniques for Brunch Critic to reach those who really care about French toast with Mimosas.

Usable ideas, energizing discussion, diverse experience – what’s not to like?

About Tim Peek
Tim Peek is the executive producer for NBC NextMedia, an in-house creative services group at NBC Universal that produces narrative-based advertising for clients. Before that, Peek worked as a producer and executive at NBC News and then led a transformation initiative to re-define video news production for broadcasters in the digital age. Peek is an avid long-distance runner, back-country skier, mountain biker and the winner of numerous awards for his investigative and news coverage at NBC and elsewhere.