Creative Technologist Interview: Jesse Genet of Lumi
Kate Preston McAndrew
November 1st, 2022

Jesse Genet is the cofounder and CEO of Lumi, a packaging company recently acquired by Narvar. She is a member of the Baukunst Creative Technologist Council and a Limited Partner in Baukunst’s debut $100M fund. We sat down with her at the recent Baukunst Creative Technologist Conference in San Francisco.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Q:  What does being a Creative Technologist mean to you?

A:  Being a creative technologist is about problem-solving.  On the technology side, necessity is the mother of invention. And the creative part implies that there can and should be an artistic flair to solving problems.  Solving problems doesn't have to be mundane.  It can actually be beautiful.  I think humanity is inherently artistic.  That’s what it means to me.

Jesse Genet at the Baukunst Creative Technologist Conference at the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco.
Jesse Genet at the Baukunst Creative Technologist Conference at the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco.

Q:  What problems are you working to solve?

A:  In my career, I've been working to create less friction between different groups  trying to do good work together.  I think that people spend so much effort trying to do productive things.  In my case, making packaging, running brands, trying to scale brands.  And my job is to make that a little bit easier.  They're putting in so much extreme effort. Why should extra paperwork or extra bureaucracy get in their way?

Q:  Who or what is in your creative ecosystem? Who's on your team?

A:  In the circles that I get to  travel in, I have the privilege of interacting with a few groups who really stand out to me. First, other founders, other people who have started businesses.  It's such a rich group of people.  They’re so different from each other.  So different from me. And I just love that we all get kind of painted with this founder badge.  It's both fun and insane, because there's nothing that we have in common except for the fact that we started businesses. So I kind of love that and love the camaraderie there.

And then the investors, the people I've come to think of as capital allocators.  That might sound so boring.  But in a sense, people who get to decide where money flows have a really challenging job to do. And I really respect them.  It's been really interesting for me to learn about their work as I've run a company.

Q:   What are you an expert at and what are you learning?

A:  I'm an expert at getting people excited about boring things.  I have run a supply chain company.  I've run a packaging company.  And somehow people have been like, riveted with what I have to say about these things.  Why?  I mean, it's really raw enthusiasm jammed into historically boring things.

And then on the flip side, what am I still working on?  I think that managing people and recruiting people is a lifelong project.  I always think I've gotten to another level only to realize that all the levels are before me.  Because assembling a great team, and finding people, and keeping them enthused just feels like the work of a lifetime.

Q:   What are you most proud of?

A:  I think I'm most proud of the smallest pieces of feedback and the smallest things that I get as reactions to things I've built and companies I've built.  People who find me years later, and tell me I - or the company I built - had an impact on them in a positive way.  It sounds so basic, but having touched anyone's life with something I put on their laptop is inherently satisfying.

Q:  What do you think is especially interesting or important about what Baukunst is doing or how they’re working?

A:  The people of Baukunst have a unique set of attributes for drawing in talent that is a little different.  And, because I think there's a startup ethos where everyone assumes it's like a monoculture. But it's not a monoculture.  Really different types of people decide to start businesses, and I think they seek out investors and partners who speak to them on more of a soul level.  Baukunst will draw those people in like magnetically.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


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