Opinion: Why TechUnited Matters to the NJ Tech Community

Today, Aaron Price and his team turned a page in the history of the NJ Tech Council. They introduced the organization’s new name and brand, “TechUnited:NJ.”

New Jersey is one of the few states that has a strong organization uniting and advocating for its tech community. The NJ Tech Council has been that advocate for 24 years.

However, as a 20-plus-year-old organization, it needed a refresh, and TechUnited:NJ sets the expectations just right.

In a recent interview, Price described the organization’s vision as follows: “For those who are defining the path ahead in New Jersey and beyond, TechUnited:NJ is an empowering force for all innovators, instigators and entrepreneurs, achieving this by uniting our community to embolden the ‘what ifs,’ so that we accelerate opportunity, propel ideas into action, in order to build a better future for all.”

The TechUnited:NJ launch video | Courtesy TechUnited:NJ

The word “all” is an important part of that statement, Price said, and it’s deliberately used twice “because we want to make sure the organization addresses all kinds of people from all different backgrounds, and we think about equity as an important driving characteristic of how we move forward.”

Bringing Value to Stakeholders

The organization is putting a lot of emphasis on the experiences and value it offers its members and others who may not be members. Price thinks a lot about what TechUnited:NJ’s differentiator is and what he brings to the table. Based on his experience running the NJ Tech Meetup, Propelify and the NJ Tech Council, he noted that “they all offer surprising and impactful opportunities that arise when the tech community unites.”

So, this time, “We were thinking about a name that represented the power of community, the power of bringing people together.”

There’s a ton of energy around the state and around the region about what can we do together, he added. “I think TechUnited:NJ is really well positioned to help catalyze a lot of that opportunity. It’s a really exciting time to be involved with all of this.”

The new logo was developed in New Jersey, said Price. He pointed out that, on the logo, the point where the “h” connects with the “u” represents when tech unites, and they are the only letters that are physically connected. A multicolored gradient shoots out from the space behind “united” to represent the impact and the opportunities that emerge when technology unites and people and companies come together. He noted that “h” and “u” are the first two letters in the word “human,” and that human powers activate this explosion, and humans are the catalyst driving energy and momentum.

“The graphic behind the ‘united’ is a gradient meant to represent a diversity of individuals and the ideas in the community,” he said. “It’s deliberately changing colors over time as a reflection of the diversity of people and ideas that come together. It goes from cooler tones to warmer tones in a nod towards building a better future for all.”

The word “Tech” is prominent in the logo. According to the website,”Tech isn’t just about coding languages and transistors. To us, being a ‘tech’ person is a lens through which one sees the world. Where some see headaches – we see opportunity. Where some find frustration, we look for efficiency. Where some think small – we leverage technology to make a dent in the globe.”

Data Driven

Price announced the new name and brand during an NJTC Town Hall webinar, making it clear that TechUnited:NJ would be holding itself to a very high standard, and would be collecting and monitoring data on user satisfaction with the organization and its programs. He noted that the overall goal will be to bring value to New Jersey’s tech community. “Whether you’re an early-stage entrepreneur with an idea just looking to get started, or you’re a Fortune 100 company,” TechUnited:NJ can accelerate your opportunities, he said.

There are three particular data points that are important to TechUnited, Price said. The first one is overall engagement. “Our goal is to have at least four meaningful engagements with every stakeholders’ organization each year. I hope we have significantly more, but it is a minimum of four. We’ve now committed to technology to start to track those things.” Secondly, TechUnited is looking to increase its value by having a higher net promoter score, which is the ratio that shows that people are heavily advocating for our organization.

 “We were looking to meet or beat a 35 Net Promoter Score. … We looked at the services industries, and 30 was the was the good-to-excellent score, so we set a slightly higher bar: 35. Most recently, and it’s early in the process, but we’re at 58 and above with most of the experiences.” The third goal is to look at growth as measured by an increase in members, an increase in overall revenue and “a decrease in our membership churn rate.”

Emphasis on New Jersey

During the launch webinar, Price was asked specifically if the goal of the rebrand was to start in New Jersey and to expand to other regions. He added that it is possible. “The goal wasn’t to come up with a brand necessarily that could expand to other regions, but it certainly was a major positive as we thought about branding, that it might open doors” to other areas.

“There are logical steps to how we could have other TechUnited brands around the country, around the globe. And our thinking was [that] we may or may not ever get to that place, but if we did, and the headquarters and the mother ship is in New Jersey, we can bring people together here and show that this can be the beacon from which it all grows. We think that’s a net positive for everybody.”

Price emphasized that, for the foreseeable future, TechUnited’s emphasis will be on this state and this region.

Why it Matters

So why does all this matter? It matters because the tech and innovation community is New Jersey’s future.  If we all pull in the same direction, if we can unite the state and the region, if we can get large companies, mid-sized companies, small companies and startups talking together and finding common ground, we can finally put New Jersey on the tech map.

Am I worried about Price’s possible long-term goal of replicating this in other places? To me, it only means that the organization will be working extra hard to get this right for New Jersey.

Innovation comes out of every corner of New Jersey, and TechUnited:NJ can help us all pull together to move forward. We wish TechUnited:NJ the best of luck in the next 20-plus years of this organization.

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