….You do NOT talk about House of Genius.
Yeah, I am going to drag out that tired quote from Fight Club and I am going to paraphrase it proudly. When it comes to House of Genius this is the one time it might actually apply.
A random invite to a cryptically titled event arrives in the email. If you choose to accept it, you are instructed that it is a first-name only event. You are not allowed to say where you work or what you do. Once you arrive you are greeted with the ubiquitous pizza and beer common to all coworking space, but otherwise the event is shrouded in mystery. After a few bites of pizza, you and 15-20 others gather around a table. Now, it’s time to get down to business.
So what exactly is House of Genius? Why are we here? What is our nefarious purpose? Why all the secrecy?
Here’s how it is described on their website. House of Genius “brings together entrepreneurs and a diverse mix of business leaders from the community for an evening each month of disruptive thinking, supportive input, and creative new ideas.”
And here’s how it goes down. After a few ground rules and introductory comments from one of first name only hosts, a brave soul stands in front of the panel and introduces his or her business and discusses the challenges they face.
The focus then turns to the panelists all who are given the opportunity to offer instant feedback, questions, criticisms and solutions. The presenter then has a few minutes to address the panel’s comments. Generally, there are 2-3 presentations for the evening and it adds up to 2 hours of complete engagement around the room.
At the end of the night each panelist reveals their last name and a little bit about who they are and what they do. The big reveal, if you will. Of course, hugs, high-fives and handshakes ensue.
Both times I have attended I was incredibly impressed with the intelligence of the presentations and the compelling feedback and encouragement from every corner of the room. Watching entrepreneurs define a problem and present a solution is powerful stuff. Experiencing a room of smart people provide insight and observations can be revelatory. Perhaps that is why the light bulb is such a prominent part of the House of Genius logo.
The brilliance and beauty of House of Genius is in the anonymity. Those offering feedback might be a top VC or just another struggling entrepreneur. Each panelist’s feedback has equal weight and removes all bias that comes with knowing your audience. It also is much more collaborative and supportive than typical startup presentations. Something magic happens at House of Genius. It is truly a remarkable evening.