Panelist Recap: House of Genius NYC – Number 8


Rosie Siman was recently a panelist at House of Genius NYC. Here is her recap of our February 28th, 2013 session:

When I was invited to participate in House of Genius, I was immediately intimidated. I had signed up after someone told me to do so, but I never thought I’d actually get selected. But excitement outweighed intimidation so last week, I headed down to Dumbo to find out just what happened at this House of Genius.

Upon arrival, we took seats around a table, introducing ourselves with only our first names. Shortly after, Chris Meade of Sports Recruit was introduced to us. Sports Recruit is an online community built for students who are hoping to go to college with a sports scholarship. He gave us a little bit of information about his company, including some challenges and then it began.

The 12 of us sitting around the table had a few minutes to ask clarifying questions before we were asked by the moderator to provide a thought. There weren’t specifications other than a time limit: 60 seconds. [I learned quickly that if you speak fast, you can pack a lot of punch into 60 seconds.]

Sports Recruit has been around for several years and have a business model built on families paying various amounts of money for correlating amounts of support with help on using the site, setting up their child’s profile, etc. They have a solid amount of traffic but were looking for additional ways to gain revenue. From adding LinkedIn types of features like being able to see who has viewed your profile to charging coaches to take profiles “off the market” for a certain amount of time, we suggested different solutions.

Next up was Stephen Oddo of Walks of Italy. After graduating from college, Stephen moved to Rome and eventually set up a tourism company that sells day trips, unique activities and special access (with an emphasis on small groups & hand picked experts).

Stephen’s business was also fairly established: He was in the process of figuring out the best growth strategy and wanted our thoughts. The table was filled with differing perspectives, from support for a franchise model to a focus on more expensive activities, expanding only when a previous user was looking for recommendations in a new city.

Finally was my personal favorite, Obi, of Pop In Gym. Her startup addresses a problem that many frequent travelers are familiar with: the hotel gym. It’s hard enough to stay healthy while traveling and if hotels do have gyms, they’re usually shit. Beyond travelers, there are plenty of people who have commitment issues with gyms. And people like myself who might want to play racquetball a few times a year, but don’t want to fork over the dough that goes along with having a premium gym membership.

Obi’s app shows you gyms nearby, lets you filter based on your own needs and let’s you purchase a day, 4 day or month pass. Because Pop In Gym was still very new, Obi’s questions felt a bit less specific. I pushed for dynamic pricing (gyms offering reduced rates during slow times, or for specific classes/parts of the gym that weren’t being used) while someone else suggested she begin looking into partnerships with businesses who frequently send their employees around the world (like a McKinsey!)

The evening wrapped with a reveal. Each of us took turns introducing ourselves and providing a bit of background as to what we do. Before the event, I guessed that most attendees would be in advertising (The event was hosted in the office of a research company after all!) but I was pleasantly surprised to find that backgrounds were much more varied.

Now? I just have to figure out who I’ll nominate to go in my place next month. You up for the challenge? [Apply now to attend a House of Genius NYC session]


About Rosie Siman
Rosie writes, speaks, consults, teaches, strategizes & generally plays well with others. She dislikes voicemails and mean people. When she’s not helping brands figure out what they should be doing to harness the digital world, she’s curating a newsletter called The Tuesday Ten, which you should probably sign up for:

Rosie can also be found on Twitter @rosiesiman To collaborate with her check out

Amsterdam’s First House of Genius: A Redux

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”
― Carl SaganCosmos
Sebastiaan Hooft of Petminds Presents

Sebastiaan Hooft of Petminds Presents

Monday night was my first experience with the House of Genius, and I must say that I was impressed with what went down. For the most part, the night met a great deal of my expectations.

I had first heard of the event via Facebook. Heather Lefevre, the Amsterdam House of Genius chapter founder, shares a strategy group with me and recently posted a link to that caught my attention. Within seconds of seeing the New York chapters’ video, I became immediately curious, and wanted to learn more.

Going into my first experience with the HofG, I was excited and enthralled by the fact that those who participate, do so not for the sake of personal recognition, but for the sake of nurturing, crafting and developing an idea. Participants don’t share their last names, where they work, or even qualify their points based on experience or socio-professional status because it’s the ideas that really matter.

As a self-proclaimed philosophy nerd, the chance to sit in a room with other people and just play with ideas is like pure, unadulterated brain candy for a guy like me. After the event, I swear I couldn’t sleep. It was crazy. The participants really impressed me, and I thought they came up with some really amazing and inspiring ideas in their pursuit to help Play4Karma, PetMinds or Egg Helmets.

I left surprised and over-saturated by the sheer passion for diversity and breadth of ideas that I could sense from nearly everyone in the room.

Come to think of it, this could very well be the reason why I couldn’t sleep after the event. There were just too many good ideas, or offshoots thereof, to really give my mind a moment’s rest.

In the words of my favorite household felon, Martha Stewart, this type of invigorating and curiosity-inducing brain juice, for me at least,  is “a very good thing.”

To those familiar with the buzz that great ideas do to those of us passionate about how people think and behave, it should come as no surprise that I would venture to become more involved with the house of genius. That’s why I have offered to help moderate and volunteer my time and network to support subsequent sessions of the House of Genius chapter here in Amsterdam.

I truly love the idea, and look forward to playing a helpful role in nurturing conversations, concepts and inspirations for participants and entrepreneurs in the sessions to come.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson aptly said that ‘there’s just something about doing what’s never been done before (whether useful or not) that’s intellectually seductive, alluring, and enticing’. Amsterdam’s new House of Genius chapter, for me at least, does just that.

//Michael Koenka

Who Presents at House of Genius

As someone relatively new to House of Genius, people often ask me WHO House of Genius is for. The best examples are somewhat random. In May 2012, Steven Sashen presented at House of Genius Boulder, CO. More recently he and his company Xero Shoes were featured on Shark Tank. They recently turned down a $400,000 investment.

Practice your Pitch with House of Genius – Apply Now. You can present in 12 cities around the globe from Amsterdam to Singapore.

House of Genius is Launching in Amsterdam

Heather LeFevre recently attended a House of Genius event in Seattle. She loved the format and is launching House of Genius, in Amsterdam, on February 11, 2013. More information on the inaugural session is here.

Apply to attend a session in Amsterdam

This event would not be possible without our generous sponsors!


pakhuis de zwijger

House of Genius is now in 12 Cities – look for an upcoming event in a Location near you. Upcoming events include:

House of Genius in 2012

Just a quick note to say how excited we are for 2012. House of Genius is already in 4 cities and plans are in the works to expand. The ‘Genius community has grown quickly and we’re looking to continue the trend in 2012 as we strive towards our goal to help an entrepreneur a day.

Winter sessions are quickly filling for this winter; if you haven’t signed up, be sure to get in your application so you can be considered to contribute or participate!

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