GenJuice – Changing the World One Unconference At A Time


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Gen Y have I got a treat for you today. I had the chance to interview some wonderful world changers, friends and Gen Y’ers just like you who have started a national movement to quench the thirst for innovation in our generation. Now I’m not gonna lie, when co-founder Danielle Leslie invited me to the first ever GJ get together at Cuppa’ Tea in Berkeley I had to do a double take on the name. “Gin and Juice” at one o’clock in the afternoon? That’s ambitious yes?

Well indeed it was and what an amazing turn out it has been for these three revolutionaries thus far. They have been touring the country the last couple of months in a series of rapid fire Unconferences supported by viral Tweetups and live broadcasting on Justin.tv. The amazing thing about this whole tour is that it had cost nothing more than pennies on the dollar for the three ladies, one of whom is still a full-time college student, and two who recently left their full-time jobs to pursue their passion of igniting entrepreneurship outside the bubble of the Silicon Valley.

Co-Founders Danielle Leslie and Arielle Patrice Scott working their Gen Juice DC event. Photography by Nican Robinson.

In this interview, the ladies gush about their prophetic views on entrepreneurship and the mission to find Generations Y’s best innovators and mover’s and shakers across the country.

La Mission

The San Francisco Bay Area continues to offer a supportive environment for technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation amongst young people. Yet, young innovators in other parts of the country are not equally encouraged to dream big and lead new ventures. We plan to change that with The GenJuice Tour. Our mission is to encourage, mobilize and connect over 1,300 young people across the nation to start projects and companies by connecting them together and equipping these young go-getters with the resources they need to succeed.

The Uncanny Ingredients of Gen Juice

Full Name: Danielle Leslie, Arielle Patrice Scott, Virgilia Kaur Singh

Age: 24, 21, 23

Location: Nomads

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; Scottsdale, AZ

(Now  stir counter-clockwise, shake and sprinkle over ice and enjoy!) Let’s dive in and have a drink shall we?

What are the most important decisions you make as someone armed with an idea?

Arielle: Go & Think: Whereby an individual pursues their idea first and analyzes after they

Arielle Patrice Scott, CEO of Gen Juice. Photography by Nican Robinson

have data. By “Go”, I do not mean establish an LLC, hire a management team, invest in manufacturing or even hire interns. Leave your computer, leave your room, walk outside, and talk to every person you can find about the idea. Get 10 people to write you a check, give you their credit cards, or hand you the shirt off of their backs – not because you are a darn good salesperson, but because they could not survive without your product.

Once you have validation along those lines, now it’s time to “Think”. This is typically the most fun. Think about who would be your best partners. Think about how you plan to bootstrap for as long as possible. Strategize on how you will enter the market. However, don’t spend too much time in this space. Remember, all of your strategy is really to make yourself feel good about what you’re doing and to feel secure. Make sure you have a healthy oscillation between “Think” & “Go” and we will be toasting at the finish lines of startup awesomeness fairly soon.

As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How would you keep this from happening?

Danielle: A few things need to happen to continue driving inspiration within an organization. Before anything else, it’s important to: 1) Understand and commit to the mission of the organization and 2) Understand and commit to your role in achieving the mission of the organization. Working on GenJuice, I’ve realized that the answers to these questions can and probably will change, so it’s important to establish a schedule where you sit down with yourself and your team to revisit your mission and discuss the gap between where you are and where you’d like to be. Ask yourself: What are we trying to accomplish, and how can we accomplish this given our current resources?

“The one thing I’ve done very well in every business is that I’ve created and I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who already had the ability to be creative and who already had an entrepreneurial drive or spirit.”

Arielle Patrice Scott, CEO at GenJuice

I was just speaking with a friend about his venture, and he claimed that he needs a certain amount of money in order to run an ad campaign to get followers and gain traction for his venture. I asked him two questions: 1) What are you trying to accomplish with your organization? 2) How can you accomplish this given your current resources? By resetting his outlook and reminding him about his initial mission, I helped re-inspire him, and we came up with 3 things that he can execute in the next week to gain considerable traction.

“Be open to change – grow organically & stay lean. When you’re starting out, it’s important to stay small and allow yourself to grow without staying attached to any single idea.”

Virgilia Singh, COO at Gen Juice

As long as you consistently return to those questions about the mission of your organization and your personal role to fulfill that mission, then you will find yourself creating new ways to accomplish your mission… and that is what I call inspiration.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your team?

Arielle: The one thing I’ve done very well in every business I’ve created is I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who already had the ability to be creative and who already had an entrepreneurial drive or spirit. So firstly, I would say the number one way I’ve encouraged creative thinking within my team is to team up with creative people from the beginning.

Co-Founder and COO Virgilia Singh hosting their DC event. Photography by Nican Robinson.

The only time creative thinking needs encouraging within GenJuice is when one or all of us hit moments of “creative wearout” or “creative block”. In moments like those, I encouraged the art of looking beyond the end goal. What I mean is to look beyond the immediate or distant task at hand, and explore the periphery. GenJuice started from my thesis that led to a meetup that led to a tour that is leading to something increasingly larger. The moment you isolate yourself to a single goal and ignore external possibilities is the moment you stifle innate creativity.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader/entrepreneur/world-changer should possess? Why?

Virgilia: Be open to change – grow organically & stay lean. When you’re starting out, it’s important to stay small and allow yourself to grow without staying attached to any single idea. This is something we live by at GenJuice. We have evolved constantly since having started as a result of outsiders’ perspectives.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders/entrepreneurs/world-changers today?

Virgilia: As globalization slowly becomes a reality, the symbiotic relationship between collaboration and competition will become a necessity. The challenge is being able to compete but still collaborate. No matter what industry or realm you are in, in order to maintain your place as a a leader, you must eliminate any hostility towards sharing ideas and resources and working with other like minded and goal focused individuals.

During one of the GenJuice Unconferences, the idea of “Collabition” came about – essentially competition is necessary for an economy to thrive, however without sharing resources (i.e. people & ideas) there is no way that leaders, entrepreneurs, and world changers of today will survive. A good example is the impact that open source Web 2.0 (possibly the largest form of collaboration) has had on emerging change makers’ ability to spread their visions at an astonishing rate.

” Interestingly, though, the web’s emergence as an open source platform has brought me full circle and helped me realize the importance of a local, offline presence.”

Danielle Leslie, CRO at Gen Juice

Danielle interviewing Andrew from Dreams for Kids DC live on Justin.tv. Photography by Nican Robinson.

With GenJuice, our goal is to bridge the gaps that exist amongst all local support networks. The only way of doing this is to create partnerships with the local networks, and continue to build upon them. Understanding that it was for the greater good of our own organization as well as all the individuals vested in the same mission was essential.

Can you explain the impact, if any, that social networking and Web 2.0 has made on your ideas or you?

Danielle: The roles of Twitter, Facebook, Justin.tv, etc. as engagement and broadcasting platforms have made me a huge believer that: 1) It is possible for anyone to fund their passion and 2) With the right marketing strategy, anything is sellable. In the case of GenJuice, Virgilia Kaur Singh and I helped Arielle Patrice Scott take her bi-weekly Berkeley meetup and grow it into a summer nationwide tour supported by ticket sales and sponsors by tagging people in Facebook photo albums, mentioning people on Twitter, emailing bloggers, and posting interviews with people on YouTube.

Interestingly, though, the web’s emergence as an open source platform has brought me full circle and helped me realize the importance of a local, offline presence. When I first got interested in Web 2.0 and social networking, all I cared about was online and global presence, but the emergence of location-based sites like FoursquareGroupon, and Thrillist reminded me about the value of connecting locally and offline. In fact, when Arielle Patrice Scott started those bi-weekly GenJuice meetups in Berkeley, her core principle was that it’s great to connect with people online, but it’s also important to collaborate offline because that’s where the magic happens. I’ve learned that you should embrace the web as a platform to amplify your efforts and multiply your impact, but you should not let it define or limit your personal and organizational mission.

What’s next for the fab three?

Social media has been a great space to promote this movement virally and the GenJuice team has some real flip kickin’ sponsors who have been behind them all the way through their entire tour.  Social media brand names such as Justin.tv broadcasts each event live as the trio tour the country in search of the best ideas and future world changers like themselves.

Sponsors like CitySolve and Drink Give offer fantastic ways to get to know the cities that they tour and also support great causes while they are on the road. Not to mention their advisor, Ingrid Stabb,  who is a best selling author of the book Career Within You and many many more who support their mission to ignite and inspire Generation Y all over the country.

What’s in it for you?

If you haven’t yet joined one of the social media links to view the wonderful fire these ladies

Some great topics of discussion. Just a sample of the innovation happening at these unconferences nationwide. Join the team in Los Angeles on July 31, 2010.

and igniting across the country you should check out their website to see more. There’s something to be said about putting out a fire but with a wildfire as big as these ladies have started, I can only see this tour getting hotter and edgier with each year to come.

The founders have no plans in kicking back after the tour but are also planning to launch a platform that captures the best Gen Y innovators, influencers and go-getters. We’re  certainly looking forward to seeing more from them as the years go by. For now, attend an unconference near you live and in person or by tuning in live on http://www.justin.tv/genjuice and set some wonderful ideas on fire!

Social Media links:

twitter: @meetgenjuice; @danielleleslie; @ariellescott; @virgiliasingh

company: http://genjuice.com

e-mail: tour@genjuice.com

Would love to hear your thoughts if you attended one of these events or plan to in the future.

– AJ Thomas, The Gen Y Blogger

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