Get Ready! “Building a Better Future for All” Theme of 2020 Virtual Propelify Oct. 5–9

This year’s Propelify is shaping up to be a great experience for those who attend.

Yes, it will be different from the previous years, for sure. For one thing, it will be free. For another, it will be virtual. And it will take place over five days, Oct. 5–9.

Instead of a one-day physical event where attendees can network freely with each other, job hunt on a Ferris wheel, take in the skyline of New York, and participate in games designed by exhibitors, Propelify this year will be online.

Attendees will have tons of compelling content to watch, just as they would have had at a physical festival. They’ll also have lots of opportunities to participate. interviewed Aaron Price, president and CEO of TechUnited:NJ, about the strengths of this year’s Propelify and why you should visit it online.

“With everything going on in the world going virtual, we thought about ‘how do we make sure we can still provide the most compelling content and experience as possible, in this different medium?’” Price told us.

“We decided to spread the content out across five days, and to lean in around specific topics and verticals in a way that gives us an opportunity go a little deeper on some subjects. And then we’re tying it into the TechUnited:NJ mission of building a better future for all.”

The first day of Propelify is themed as  “BetterTogether,” the second as “BetterWellness,” the third as “BetterPlanet,” the fourth as “BetterConnected” and the final day as “BetterBeta,” with a focus on startups, he said. The first day of the festival will feature discussions on inclusiveness, something the tech industry hasn’t been so focused on, but should be, Price said.

The speakers are people to get excited about. They include, in part: Al Roker, your favorite entrepreneurial weather personality; New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, who introduced Golden Seeds into New Jersey; Marc Lore who started several e-commerce companies, including JET, all in New Jersey, and is now head of e-commerce at Walmart; and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

New Jersey luminaries will also be present, including Michele Siekerka, head of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (Trenton); Jill Johnson, the influential  CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, in Newark; and Debbie Hart, who leads BioNJ (Trenton).

Networking opportunities will abound, but they will also be a bit different. Anyone can sign up for executive coaching, VIP networking and mentorship opportunities; and there will be a Startup Showdown contest.

There will be live investor speed dating, and startup founders can sign up for this. Who should apply? Pre-seed, seed and Series A startups with at least three employees that are fundraising and interested in meeting with new investors. Sign-ups end Sept. 18. The team from Captivate Talent (New York), which is sponsoring this event, is looking for investors to participate, too.  

And we’ll all find out who won the $50,000 CleanTech Impact Challenge prize from TechUnited:NJ and PSEG. “It’s the most money we’ve ever given away at the festival, and I’m really excited about that,” Price said.

For CEOs and CFOs, Propelify will hold executive forums on each afternoon of the festival. “We are leveraging Propelify as a way to engage executive membership into some of the things they are used to, and also introduce them to the developer experience if they haven’t been a part of it before.”

The Propelify team hasn’t forgotten the fun things that made everyone look forward to the day. They’ve been testing out some virtual events, including trivia contests, sandwich making and wine tastings. It’s tricky, Price acknowledged. Many of the fun things that happened at the physical event were activated by the sponsors. But watch out, he said. You may find yourself playing “Networking Roulette.”

Price wants readers to know that the tech community in New Jersey and the region remains strong, that many tech companies have had to pivot, but are figuring out what it takes for them to survive. He said that the underlying idea about Propelify stays the same: Idle ideas don’t fly.

This year’s Propelify will send a message of positivity, hope and inclusiveness, and will hold discussions about how to turn ideas into action.

“The tech community is moving forward with force,” Price said. “There are a lot of great companies growing or being started, and a lot of big companies are looking to the startup community for ways to innovate. Propelify has always been a place that’s represented that culture, and we’re still that place. Even though we’re virtual this year, we’re still very much bringing that to life.”

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