On August 5, the NJ Tech Council announced that it had acquired Propelify, the innovation festival that has brought thousands of tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to the Hoboken waterfront. It also announced that Aaron Price, who had founded Propelify, would be the organization’s new CEO.
Price is a well-known figure in the tech ecosystem in New Jersey. A serial entrepreneur, he founded the NJ Tech Meetup in Hoboken as a platform for meeting other entrepreneurs and learning from the successful ones. At last count, the meetup had more than 7,300 members.
In 2016, Price launched Propelify, a multifaceted outdoor event that has been called the “SXSW of the Northeast.” And with it, he energized the regional tech community. Price’s Propelify has inspirational speakers, startups from all over the world, educational panel discussions, speed-dating with investors, tech innovation demonstrations, games, networking opportunities, entertainment and, one year, job interviews on a Ferris wheel.
In a brief interview with NJTechWeekly.com this week, Price noted that there are some guiding principals that are important to him and to the NJ Tech Council board of directors. “Everything we will do will be driven by collaboration, differentiation and a high bar of excellence.” In addition, the NJ Tech Council will have its own unique voice, he said.
Price noted that he was in the process of figuring out what that means when it comes to the details, but said that it basically “means that we will serve the community effectively, provide real value, and add a significant amount of energy and new ideas around everything going forward.”
“Everything we will do will be driven by collaboration, differentiation and a high bar of excellence.”Aaron Price, CEO of NJ Tech Council
He added that the board recognizes that the NJ Tech Council needs to serve the entire tech ecosystem, and that the Propelify community represents a significant portion of the early-stage and growth-stage tech companies in the state. “That’s one of the reasons that we were all excited about the opportunity,” he stated.
By no means will the Tech Council ignore the companies it historically represents, he added. “I think that we can modify the programming so that the complementary stakeholders can actually have a significant benefit for one another.” He explained that early-stage companies that are looking for access to bigger corporations can have that happen through the Tech Council.
Also, Price noted that New Jersey needs a variety of new funding mechanisms for startups, and that can happen through the Tech Council as well. “A lot of the larger corporates are very hungry for all of that to happen.”
“We tapped into the desire of members of the tech community to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves.”Aaron Price, CEO of NJ Tech Council
Referring to the outpouring of congratulations and offers of help and partnership he has received since Monday, Price said, “There is a lot going on in the state. I think we tapped into the desire of members of the tech community to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. I feel an enormous outpouring of positive energy about what the community can do together to raise the bar.”
So how did this all come about? “Over the last six or seven months I was looking for some investment opportunities that turned into acquisition opportunities, and I never imagined that the Tech Council would be part of this conversation,” he said. “By chance and coincidence, it came up, and by the end I thought it made the most sense for Propelify and for my own personal mission around what I can do for New Jersey and the tech community here.”
Speaking about Propelify, which is taking place in Hoboken Oct. 3, Price said that people come to the festival from all over the United States and the world because it has a lot of value. “I think there is an opportunity for us to do more to speak to all parts of the state, to empower people around the state who are in many cases championing their own area, so we can have a united voice,” in New Jersey.
For a limited time, the NJ Tech Council is offering free general admission tickets to Propelify. Visit this link: https://propelify.com/gaticket19/?ccode=njtcpropels and use code NJTCpropels.