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.

House of Genius Minneapolis – “Ice Cracking”

One day after the inaugural House of Genius-Minneapolis session and I’m still fired up over having the chance to sit in as the scribe for the event.  I didn’t participate as a panelist in the discussion and probably for good reason, after hearing from all the quick-thinking professionals in the room.  Regardless, this was without a doubt, an eye opening experience for a college student like me.

If you’re not familiar with the House of Genius format, check it out. I’d like to highlight one aspect of the format – the “anonymity”. Everyone in the room is on a first name-only basis and is asked to refrain from discussing anything about their background or experience. This is the secret sauce of House of Genius that brings out the brilliance of everyone in the room.  There is no “qualifying” or possibly even worse, “disqualifying”, of comments or feedback from people in the room.  It was the fuel that fired the free and exciting flow of a great session.

Now, I am about as green as you would expect from a college student when it comes to the workings of the professional world. I’m typically just struggling to figure out what the heck is going on in operations class, the best way to BS a post-marketing lecture reflection paper, and how to spend my weekends.  This night of disruptive thinking is exactly what I needed to break from the status quo and get a breath of fresh air courtesy of real, practicing, business and entrepreneurial professionals with diverse backgrounds.  In fact, I am completely skirting some homework responsibilities to write this while the excitement from last night is still fresh.

While taking notes for the event was fairly difficult because of the pace, fortunately, I still had a chance to soak in the collaboration being had amongst the geniuses in the room.  The content was equal parts inspirational, informative, and new to me.  I have never felt that excited when leaving a  classroom-like setting, nor has a class ever felt like it flew by quite like this House of Genius session flew by.

Our three presenters were nearly as diverse as the panelists providing the insight.  We led off with Tarmac, a near shore consulting services company that specializes in ruby on rails and grails development.  Next up was Docalytics, a company with a web-based platform that provides B2B marketers with more efficient lead capture and deeper engagement analytics surrounding their document based content marketing resources.  Finally, GetKnit Events, a Twin Cities based company that provides a platform for local businesses, individuals, and non-profits to experience events in the area that may otherwise be unheard of.

Each of the three presenters came to House of Genius with different challenges they were looking for help with and the panel offered insightful suggestions and ideas for each of them. This included a recommendation that Tarmac change the way they market their differentiators and the possibility of integrating Docalytics with existing applications. By the end of the night, everyone in attendance seemed to keep referring back to one thing though. Whiskey and whitewater rafting. Specifically referencing the exciting and unusual events they wanted to see GetKnit start hosting. I will spare further details of the discussions because there is no way I could do them justice. After all, the “genius” is created in the room of anonymous people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

For those of you that haven’t lost interest in this piece, thanks for bearing with me on my first blog post.  I couldn’t have adequately conveyed the power of this disruptive thinking but hopefully I have at least given you a sense of how powerful and exciting it was for me, and maybe even inspired you to check it out for yourself.

Thanks to all in attendance and to those who made the first House of Genius-Minneapolis experience possible.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing new faces, perspectives and the collaborative “genius” in future Minneapolis sessions.

– Jacob Kaska

Unconventional Thinking: House of Genius NYC

Jordan Phoenix was a panelist at the April 2013 House of Genius NYC session.  That night Fiestah, Wedge Technologies, and Kno Clothing presented challenges. Here are some of Jordan’s thoughts on the session:

In recent years, the idea of crowdsourcing has picked up a significant amount of momentum. If you’ve ever used 99designs for logo creation, or used Wikipedia to look something up (who hasn’t), then you understand the value that emerges when large groups of talented people make small contributions to the bigger puzzle.

The House of Genius is essentially an environment to crowdsource good ideas. A diverse group of panelists from different backgrounds come together to help three entrepreneurs find solutions to their most pressing business challenges.

To make things interesting, you are not allowed to tell anyone what your work background is (or even discuss work at all during breaks) until the very end. I believe that breaking your normal routine definitely forces you to think differently, so hey, anything that can spark more creativity is worth a try.

After each entrepreneur presents, there are a few minutes of discussion during which every panelist gets to throw in their two cents. Some of the ideas are relatively straightforward, while others can be way outside-the-box and unconventional.

I’m an unconventional kind of guy. I think that’s most likely why they asked me to guest write this article (and come to the event in the first place). Predictability is boring! So, to stick with this theme, I’ll explain one of the “out of left field” ideas that I gave to a presenter.

Wedge Technologies is a renewable energy company that creates a new variety of wind turbines. Their main customer base consists of large organizations in the United States and Europe. The challenges were many: too much red tape in the US, too expensive to store wind energy at a competitive price versus subsidized oil, customer skepticism about wind technology efficiency in general, and so on.

They considered looking into serving markets in developing countries, but price was too much of an issue to make it feasible.

A giant light bulb went on in my head. I drew up this diagram to clarify my idea:

Business Model Flow Chart

Inspired by the cutting-edge strategies that Paul Polak and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus have used to serve people at the bottom of the pyramid, I realized that a pivot and partnership could serve Wedge tremendously. Though the people who need energy most in developing regions may not be able to afford it right now, the users of a microfinance platform like Kiva could come in to invest in such projects. This would enable the recipients to create a wide variety of new entrepreneurial ventures that were previously unfeasible due to a lack of electricity; and begin to unleash their massive amounts of untapped creativity and human potential. A portion of their profits go back to pay off the microloan, and they are no longer trapped in the dire straits of poverty.

The presenter seemed very satisfied with the potential idea of utilizing their technology not just for the benefit of the environment, but also to empower those who need it most.

Being able to be a part of this type of thing is what gets me out of bed every day.

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About Jordan Phoenix
Jordan Phoenix is a social entrepreneur, speaker, and personal development coach. He has launched the Knowledge is Power leadership retreat, the Start Living personal development group, and most recently founded Project Free World, an online social innovation platform that aims to provide the proper food, rights, education, and environment to every person on the planet.

Project Free World utilizes index scores to highlight the most critical issues in each global region; connecting people with the most innovative crowdsolving tools in order to create their own grassroots projects. His work has been featured in publications such as the New York Observer, the New York Post, the Times of India, and MindBodyGreen. You can learn more about Jordan’s work at his blog,

Jordan can be found on Twitter @jphoenix24