Picture this: a day-long festival celebrating everything tech in the tristate region, some 5,000 people on a pier in Hoboken with a spectacular view of the New York skyline and tech and entrepreneurship talks from some of the biggest names in the field.
Then add virtual reality experiences, a drone racing competition and a chance to spend 10 minutes with a venture capitalist. There’ll be startup pitches along with a competition hosted by Newark Venture Partners and Techstars. And a concert will top off a productive and fun day.
That’s just some of what the Propeller Fest plans to offer on May 20. Billed as a technology and music festival, the event will take place on Hoboken’s Pier A (which has hosted Bob Dylan, among others). It will be a celebration of innovation and a way to bring the region together, said Aaron Price, organizer of the event and of NJ Tech Meetup. More than 100 volunteers from the New Jersey technology community are working together to make this happen.
Region Overdue for A Big Event Celebrating All Things Tech
NJTechWeekly.com asked Price what gave him the idea to try to pull off an outsized event like this one. He answered, “The region is massively overdue for an event that unites the innovators of the Northeast. There is so much startup and innovation activity, and so much more now than there was six years ago [when Price started his meetup group]. I don’t think there is a better time to start a company! Yet we don’t have an event that brings together and celebrates the Northeast region in a way that is outside of the meetups and other more traditional events.”
He added that, while New Jersey may be hosting Propeller, the idea is to bring together all the tech and entrepreneurial groups in the area.
“We really want to unite this entire region. For example, we will have an ‘ambassador alley’ that will be staffed by an ambassador from every one of the meetup and founder groups. So, when you walk in you’ll be greeted by an ambassador from the Westchester Tech Meetup or the Princeton Tech Meetup, for example. And you’ll get an exposure to all of the people who are doing all of these tech entrepreneurial things on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and really get a sense of what is going on in the whole area. We want to unite the region and unite all these community groups and shine a light on what they are doing.”
Big names coming to Hoboken
In an email to supporters, Price wrote, “Hosted between our Stage of Inspiration and our Stage of Wisdom we have 20+ amazing speakers including: Author, James Altucher / CTO of Nokia, Marcus Weldon / Investor, Joanne Wilson / Jet Founder, Marc Lore / CTO of NYC, Minerva Tantoco / CNBC Anchor, Wilfred Frost / Bionic Founder, David Kidder / DigitalOcean Cofounder, Mitch Wainer / Elite Daily, Cofounder Gerard Adams / HARO Founder, Peter Shankman, and lots more.”
He also mentioned that there will be VC speed dating. Asked about this, Price said that there will be four booths on the pier dedicated to this activity. Each booth will be manned by a different VC for an hour, and then they will switch out. Entrepreneurs can put their names on a list for a time slot with a particular VC. They then show up at the booth, and someone will set a timer. Then the entrepreneurs will each have ten minutes to introduce themselves and their companies to the VC.
There will also be immersive virtual reality experiences sponsored by Stevens Institute of Technology and Audible. Stevens describes its contribution as an audio/Virtual Reality Sound Chamber.
Bell Labs to Feature the Human Digital Orchestra
Another sought-after experience will be an interactive performance by the new Bell Labs Human Digital Orchestra. According to the Bell Labs website, the Human Digital Orchestra “merges the movements of artists and the actions of the audience to create a multimedia experience with music, speech, and video dynamically reacting to the humans present. The motion of people in space will drive the imagery, the music and even create spoken human words. … The Human Digital Orchestra, in effect, makes the network ‘visible.’ Bell Labs spatial localization techniques are a central part of the creation of the performance, and the Ozo camera captures the performance in 360 degrees, in all its glory.”
The name of the musical performer that will cap the day will be announced shortly, Price said.
Besides access to the event itself, each ticket amounts to over $1,000 in value, including a month-long coworking pass to both the Alley, in New York City, and Mission 50, in Hoboken; a free Audible book download; a subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine, Propeller’s media sponsor; a one-hour session with a coach from Entrepreneur Magazine; $5 off at Jet.com; and more. “We'll even raffle off a ticket to TechCrunch Disrupt among the first 50 of you who register ($1,995 value),” Price said. Ticket prices range upwards from $139.99, but discounts can be had for those who buy multiples.