I received an e-mail sometime last week from someone who asked if I would be interested in interviewing the CEO of a crowdsourcing agency. I jumped at the opportunity. Crowdsourcing is a lot like social media was a couple years ago in that there aren't many users, but those who have tried it are usually fanatics. At the appointed time, I made the call and was on the line with Mr. Mark Walsh, CEO, founder, venture capitalist, and XM Radio co-host. I Googled his name and found plenty of information.
His bona fides are impressive: Mark graduated Union College in 1976, went on to Harvard Business School, and earned his MBA in 1980. As far as I can tell, his momentum hasn't stopped, as evidenced by his impressive career path:
• Home Box Office (HBO), director of business development.
• America Online (AOL), B2B Division (AOL Enterprise).
• CEO of VerticalNet (A B2B portal provider); Mr. Walsh took the company public in 1999.
• Ruxton Ventures, LLC; Managing partner and founder.
• Sr. Executive Fellow at the University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.
• Democratic National Committee (DNC), chief technology adviser.
• John Kerry for President; head of Internet strategy.
• GeniusRocket, CEO and founder.
• CEO and founder, Air America.
• Co-host of XM Satellite’s Left Jab.
How did GeniusRocket come into being and what is it? As Mark explains, the concept spilled into his office one day while he was investing time in other projects. Two gentlemen walked him through the concept. They not only asked if he'd be willing to invest but if he would be willng to run the company.
Mr. Walsh is now the CEO and founder of GeniusRocket. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, "Two heads are better than one," then you understand the concept of crowdsourcing, which is GeniusRocket's specialty. Instead of two heads, GeniusRocket provides 13,000. At first glance, one might assume GeniusRocket is similar to 99Designs or CrowdSpring, but you'd be wrong.
GeniusRocket is unique for a couple of reasons. First, they harness the power of the crowd while providing the service of an agency. This includes total transparency, which allows the client to speak with both the creative team and to GR. The goal is to work with you in the method that complements your working style. Thus, GeniusRocket is capable of both hands-on and hands-off approaches.
Second, GeniusRocket just announced the launch of Genius Rocket Select. It takes the crowdsourcing/agency model one step further by catering to bigger brands seeking a more personalized experience. While the standard GR platform offers human interaction, GR Select offers clients direct communication at every level of the creative process. Perhaps the most valuable asset of GR Select is that the GR team will "pre-qualify" the creative talent (artists, art directors, copywriters, etc) who will meet, and exceed client expectations.
Third, GeniusRocket is inexpensive. For example, a logo, depending on the requirements, is in the the $500 range. According to Mr. Walsh, the GR Select program also pays these chosen creative teams for any work they provide (paid "spec" creative), a huge benefit that guarantees top talent. Mark further explains GR Select:
“GR Select brings us one step closer to truly harnessing the power of the crowd and proving that this notion that great ideas come from just one person is in the past,” says Walsh. “Companies both big and small are realizing that crowdsourcing isn’t just about saving money any more -- it’s about tapping new resources to get a fresh take on your brand’s identity.”
Whether starting up a new company that needs creative juice or a shake up, take a look at GeniusRocket; at worst, they're an awesome resource to add to any marketing arsenal.