Founded: June 2014
Organizer: Jess Knox

About: We help entrepreneurs solve problems in a really innovative way.

How? By bringing together a diverse group of people to collectively offer feedback, strategy and problem-solving solutions.

Each month we host an invite-only event and bring together a group of 10-12 wide-ranging minds and two business presenters. The presenters share their business and a key problem they are facing in rapid-fire fashion. Then, each attendee offers questions, insights, suggestions, or introductions that may assist the presenter. The true “genius” is in the collaboration – you’ll be amazed at the power of thinking that is evoked from the structure of the sessions and the synergetic format.The magic is in the anonymity of the Geniuses’ backgrounds – up until the very end.

Apply: Curious? Want to learn more? Join us as a Panelist at an upcoming session. Please fill out a few questions about yourself and your availability here.

Presenters: If you’re a business/entrepreneur and want to present at an upcoming session, please fill out this form.

Dates: Sessions are held one evening per month from about 6:00-9:00PM by invitation only. Anyone can apply as we invite a new group for every event. Details provided with invitation.

House of Genius Maine debuted at Maine Startup & Create Week in June 2014. If you wish to participate in future sessions, please apply to present a project/business or contribute feedback now.



Katie Shorey

Katie is a public relations professional specializing in coalition building and communication strategies for clients. She currently resides in Portland, Maine and is active in economic development initiatives to help foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Katie serves as an organizer and fundraising co-chair of Maine Startup and Create Week, provides free business mentoring as a certified SCORE mentor, and is an advisory board member for Maine Women Magazine. She also serves at a facilitator for Elect Her, a program that trains college women to run for student government and leadership positions. Before returning to her home state of Maine, Katie lived in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA.


Emily Brackett

Emily is president of Visible Logic – a branding firm that provides brand consulting, brand identity design and web design, especially for high-tech and complex businesses. Her e-newsletter service, Mail on the Mark, provides full-service e-newsletter writing and design for business owners.

Emily is active in several of Maine’s economic development initiatives, especially Maine Startup and Create Week where she was one of the marketing chairs for the 2016 event.


Andrew Kraus

Andrew has found his home within Maine’s entrepreneurial eco-system. His day job has him as a business and IP attorney at Opticliff Law in Portland with a practice focusing on the entrepreneurs, artists and business owners that make up Maine’s “creative economy”.

In addition to House of Genius, he also serves as an organizer for Maine Startup and Create Week and 2 Degrees Portland – all organizations devoted to building community and improving resources available to entrepreneurs. When not running around the startup community, you’re likely to find him running the trails around town.


Ann Marie Swenson

Ann Marie is the SVP, Regional Manager of Business Banking at People’s United Bank.




Jess Knox
Twitter: Follow on Twitter
LinkedIn: Visit Profile

Since January 2014, Jess has assisted Blackstone Accelerates Growth with the growth of its innovation hub program as its Statewide Innovation Hub Manager. Building on his work as a co-founder of the StartUp Portland website and “digital watering hole,” Jess works to build intentional and sustainable communities of innovation and entrepreneurship. He founded Olympico Strategies in July of 2012 to help companies and organizations manage growth and change by taking a system-wide relational approach to growth, change and performance. Prior to that, Jess worked for over a decade in government and public policy, including the U.S. Small Business Administration.

He received a Juris Doctorate from the University Maine School of Law, pursued a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Public Organization Management from the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, and received a Bachelors Degree in Politics and Government from Ohio Wesleyan University. He grew up in York, Maine, but now resides in Portland, Maine with his wife Kate and son Edson.


Don Gooding

Don Gooding is host of the television show Greenlight Maine, and was Executive Director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development for almost six years.  He served as Vice Chair of the Maine Angels for four years, and has taught or spoken about innovation and entrepreneurship at Bates, Colby, SMCC, Thomas, UNE, UMaine and USM.

Previously he was a telecommunications market analyst and venture capitalist for sixteen years, founded and ran a global a cappella music business for sixteen years (the “Gooding Cups” are given out at the big college and high school competitions), and has invested as an angel since the late 1990s.


Nancy Strojny

Nancy moved to Maine six years ago to live near the ocean and found her passion helping entrepreneurs succeed by mentoring with SCORE.  Her craft is sales & marketing.

Nancy enjoys contributing as a national guest speaker, panelist and blogger on a wide range of business issues. She loves all ocean sports: swimming, kayaking and standup paddle boarding (SUPing) at Kettle Cove. Dedicated to power yoga and breaking a good sweat. Life is too short for bad coffee!


Susan Morris

Susan Morris is Principal of NewHeight Group, a real estate development company specializing in urban lifestyle projects. She is based in Portland, after many years and endeavors in Washington, DC. Susan is actively engaged in the entrepreneurial movement in Maine via Maine Angels, Maine Startup and Create Week, Women Standing Together, and serves as a TopGun mentor. A Canadian, Susan had an international hospitality career with Canadian Pacific, Savoy Hotels, Marriott International and HQ/Regus in sales, marketing and launching new brands. She continues to provide business strategies to organizations developing new products and services, or repositioning existing ones.






Apply For ‘Genius Maine! Apply For presenters 


All events are held in Portland, Maine.  (Map can reflect: Portland, ME)


Session Dates

Sessions are held one evening per month from 6:00-8:00PM by invitation only.

 Anyone can apply as we invite a new group for every event. Details provided with invitation.

  • Tuesday, September 20th 2016
  • Tuesday, October 18th 2016
  • Tuesday November, 15th 2016
  • Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
  • Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
  • Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
  • Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
  • Tuesday, April 18th 2017
  • Tuesday, May 16th
  • Tuesday, June 20th (OPEN viewing during Maine Startup and Create Week)

All events are in the evening in Portland, Maine.