House of Genius is in Milan thanks to FD. But … what is it?

House of Genius is an international business game already active in over 30 cities worldwide. It is a non-profit initiative that helps start-up entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality by providing honest and open feedback. Fintech District has “imported” this format and is looking after the Milan session, maintaining the exclusiveness that characterizes it in other countries and thus bringing Milan, and Italy, into the list of locations in which this worldwide community is active.

Why is House of Genius special? Because thanks to its original format, which we will soon discover, it allows an honest and open exchange of feedback, unbiased by prejudices related to the “title”, the background or the name.

The format requires the 3 startups to explain their business and a key problem in 10 minutes to an audience of 10 geniuses who have 1 minute for each to solve it. There is also a moderator who checks the timing and makes sure nobody repeats what is said, but above all, verifies that the “rules of the game” are respected.

The main rule is what makes House of Genius unique in the world: no one can reveal who he is and what he does in life. Everyone is called by their first name until the end of the evening, breaks included. This “prohibition” ensures that during the exchange of insights, individual ideas are considered, without being linked to the identity of those expressing them. Neither the names of the geniuses nor the presentations and questions of the companies are ever revealed before the meeting to ensure that fresh and creative ideas emerge.

House of Genius is a networking event both in the evening itself, which creates a special atmosphere of confidence, trust and transparency, and in the following months. Participating in this format, in fact, both as a startup and as a genius, allows you to become part of a worldwide community of people coming from different countries and different sectors, of different ages and different cultures.

“Diversity” is a very important value for this format and is applied in the choice of the geniuses group. The more diverse the people making it up each time are, the greater the likelihood that the sharing of ideas is creative and innovative thus making it easier to think of solutions “out of the box”.

When we chose to look after the Italian section of this format, we asked ourselves how it would work and what reactions it would provoke. We also asked Samad Masood (Director Accenture UK and London Lead Moderator, House of Genius) who moderated the first session in Milan what his thoughts were.

What benefits do you think this format can bring to Fintech District and the Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem?

We’ve found that the strength of House of Genius is the ability to give entrepreneurs insights from a diverse group of people that they may not normally have met in their normal day where often start-ups stay very much connected to others who have the same way of thinking and working. Milan and Italy as a whole are famous for many different industries across creative, engineering, digital, manufacturing, retail and social spheres. If our format can help the ecosystem here connect across these boundaries I think it will be a great success in building new ideas and opportunities.

What do you think might be the hardest things about making this format work in a new city?

We stick to a very tight timeline, and really restrict the amount of time each person has to speak – so our Geniuses and Presenters both have to speak clearly, briefly and to the point. Depending on the culture of the city we run these events this can be a challenge – but so far we have found that from Bangalore to Tel Aviv, across multiple US cities and in London, the format is always well received, even if it is surprising and difficult for people at first.

We are thrilled to put forward this kind of disruptive format to our community and to the whole Italian ecosystem, not just fintech, and we want to remember that the first one to really want to import this was Alessandro Longoni, head of Fintech District.

Why did you want to bring this format to Milan?

“I really wanted to bring this format to Milan, because I believe that it is well aligned with the Fintech District goals and values. In a world that is filled up with events where people show off their skills and products and scream louder than the others, House Of Genius is all about keeping it real, saying less but being relevant and straight to the point.

You are talking with real entrepreneurs that have challenges. For one night the pressure is not on them but on the Geniuses to prove that their ideas could really make a difference for the entrepreneurs. House of Genius is about levelling the playing field and stripping ourselves of titles. It is about putting ourselves in the shoes of others and trying to help brilliant entrepreneurs having success. It is qualified networking based on ideas. Something unseen in Italy, until now”.

Everyone can apply for taking part in House of Genius by filling out the online form. You can do this by visiting the official website of the Milanese chapter.

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Author: Tudor Sava

12 Febbraio 2019