Shine on: Price confident forecast won’t slow down Propelify Festival on Thursday

By Tom Bergeron
Hoboken | Oct 2, 2019 at 11:46 am

Aaron Price isn’t hiding from a weather forecast that is calling for rain on Thursday in Hoboken.

Price, the creator of the Propelify Festival, an event he brought to the New Jersey Tech Council when he took over as CEO earlier this summer, said he won’t let weather slow down an event he thinks could be the best in Propelify’s four-year history.

“It’s part of the risks of what we deal with to put an outdoor festival,” he said. “We’re prepared either way. There will be plenty of tents.”

Overcoming obstacles, Price said, is what Propelify is about.

“We have a lot of our speakers talking about the concept of ‘showing up’ in life and in business,” he said. “In fact, once we saw the weather could be iffy, we did a campaign on YouTube. We all rallied around this idea that if a little weather stopped us from showing up, we wouldn’t be where we are. And if it’s going to prevent someone from coming to something like this, they are making a big mistake.”

Price eagerly rattled off some of the agenda, which starts at 9 a.m. and lasts all day. (Get the complete agenda here.)

“We’ve got Gov. (Phil) Murphy speaking in the morning, we’ve got the founder of Nuts.com in the morning and we’ve got the founder of Box.com at noon,” he said. “We’ve got panels on cannabis, panels on fintech, panels on women in tech, panels on diversity and technology, and a bunch of things on cryptocurrency.

“We’ve got startup competitions at 6 and then we close with Tank Sinatra, who is a master meme generator. He now has 2 million Instagram followers by coming up with these crazy memes. He’s going to talk about how to create content that resonates with your audience.”

Price said he is expecting to have attendees from every state and a dozen countries, including China, India and a number of countries in Europe. There are more than 100 speakers and more than 100 exhibitors, too.

The exhibitors, Price said, could be game-changing for entrepreneurs. His goal, he said, is to make Propelify a place where entrepreneurs can come to propel their business or their idea.

“We’ve got Amazon coming in to give people access to talk about their delivery service partner business models,” he said. “If people want to start a business as a delivery service partner with Amazon, they’re on site giving them preferred access to that network. RSM is doing a whole bunch of fun things just to empower entrepreneurs.

“McCarter & English is giving free legal advice. We have Entrepreneur magazine doing onsite casting calls. We have the Tech Council Ventures crew doing something they’re calling ‘Beer for a Tale.’ So, if you pitch them your business and they think it’s half-decent, they’ll buy you a beer.”

There will be, Price said, plenty of Happy Hour opportunities before the event closes with fireworks.

Price, who took over the lead role at the Tech Council on Aug. 5, said he already is seeing the value the partnership brings.

“It’s been great because it’s a preview of what’s to come,” he said. “There’s so much enthusiasm and the communities are so complimentary that, even though it’s not been that long, I can tell I really see how having a united front for the tech community is going to be really impactful and important.

“Seeing the board come together and be so supportive of a new energy and a new direction has been great. It’s been very invigorating for me and for the staff overall. The staff has really rallied around this event and our making sure this is going to be a success.”

Price is hoping for record attendance.

“We’re trending to have more people than we’ve ever had before,” he said. “Our highest numbers in the past was over 8,000. We may break 10,000, which would be awesome.”

The biggest goal, Price said, is to give the tech community in New Jersey a boost.

“Our goal is to help people propel their businesses or careers and propel their ideas into reality,” he said. “And I’m very confident that, with the program that we have here, with the sponsors that we have here, the investors that are here. There are over 50 investors taking meetings, led by Edison Partners.

“The idea is to surround people with opportunity. If you want press, if you want to meet investors, if you want to do business with some of the largest companies in the world, if you want to learn how to build your business or just need some help being motivated because you’re having a tough time with your own startup time to figure things out, this is the place to be.”

Regardless of the weather.

“If there’s one business event that could weather the storm, this is it,” Price said. “This is about people who don’t take ‘No’ for an answer and certainly don’t see rain as an obstacle. Obviously, I’m hoping to get lucky on the odds, but regardless, I think the culture of this event is that we push through, no matter what.

“The hashtag we’re using on that whole speaker series is #wearethestorm.”