House of Genius offers budding entrepreneurs the world over the chance to pick the brains of industry leaders. It looks like the popular meetups might be coming to our part of the world soon.
By Dina Al Wakeel
A typical House of Genius meetup brings together a group of 15 experts from a variety of backgrounds, including PhD professors, artists, public servants, and musicians—who remain anonymous until the end of the session—to listen, discuss, and solve key problems faced by three business entrepreneurs. Then each of the participants offers solutions, insights, and suggestions that may assist the presenter.
Formed in Colorado in 2010, House of Genius sessions are now held in 30 cities across the globe. House of Genius cofounder Toma Bedolla says he hopes to bring the uniquely collaborative concept to the Middle East, including Jordan.
What’s the best way to describe what House of Genius is all about?
At its core, it’s an entrepreneurial community service. We want to make entrepreneurship a community endeavor as opposed to just an individual one. At our events we do community outreach for participants who are not normally engaged in entrepreneurship. We have entrepreneurs who have presented more than once. But the way our sessions work is that in the next event that you come to, it will be a room full of new people, so each session is a new and unique experience.
Is the model that you follow the same everywhere?
A very good example of our core format is the diversity, the anonymity that we impose, and planting the seed of serendipity. What we create is an environment that allows people to participate and see how pure and beautiful collaboration can be when we get out of our own way.
Those sessions are never recreated or revisited because you do the reveal [of who each participant is] at the end and once you know people it’s human nature to put them into boxes.
When are you planning to come to the Middle East?
We’ve come close to opening in Dubai. The timing has always been a challenge for us. We’ve had talks to open in Cairo, Morocco, and definitely Amman. We’ve also talked to a group out of Saudi Arabia, and another one in Kuwait. We are very excited to get into this region and to build the neighborhood.
Where do you want to take House of Genius?
We want to double in size in the next two years which will put us on pace to reach 100 cities worldwide. Then put the technology platform in place to connect them all from a data perspective, and also to expand the notion of community and to really start to connect.
I would love to see it happen more frequently. Each community has sessions once a month and we see some communities starting to really yield a sense of pressure to start doing more than one a month. We’re just on the other side of four years now and we understand what we do really well now. And part of this growth is for us to be able to serve even more entrepreneurs.