The West Coast has long been regarded as the epicenter of the tech community, but that’s changing, thanks in large part to East Coast entrepreneur, Aaron Price.
In 1999, while an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Price cofounded DeliverU.com, providing fellow college students in the Washington D.C. metro area with the then unheard of option of ordering food online. After graduation, Price returned to his home state of New Jersey and launched a series of successful companies before founding NJ Tech Meetup in 2010. The organization’s events are a who’s who of the Garden State’s biggest innovators and entrepreneurs, a network that laid the foundation for Price’s most recent accomplishment: organizing May’s Propeller Fest.
As detailed in GovPilot’s glowing review, Propeller Fest drew thousands of techies to Hoboken, N.J.’s Pier A Park to talk shop, eat, play and absorb the wisdom of over 40 industry luminaries.
In the wake of Propeller’s massive success, Mr. Price sat down with GovPilot to discuss life as an entrepreneur, the work that goes into coordinating an event of Propeller’s magnitude and the future of the Fest:
GP: What inspired you to organize Propeller Fest?
AP: I’m a lifelong entrepreneur, which means that I’m responsible for all aspects of the business, which is empowering but also a challenging career choice. As an entrepreneur, you’re doing everything from signing legal documents to taking out the office trash and many elements are unknown. I deal with challenges that a lot of my friends with more traditional careers don’t face, so finding other entrepreneurs to form a sense of community was important.
I started NJ Tech Meetup 6 years ago and it turned into the largest in the region. I wanted to make it bigger, so bringing more people into that world was really the driving force behind Propeller Fest.
GP: How long did it take to plan the festival?
AP: Propeller was put together in 5 months, but it probably needed twice that time [laughs]. It was really my own startup. We chose a date and did what we needed to do.
GP: Well clearly it worked. 5 months! That’s amazing. Run into any surprises during the planning process?
AP: I put out a call for NJ Tech Meetup volunteers that involved [the volunteers completing] an application and required them to dedicate a certain number of hours and form teams and attend weekly meetings and involved deliverables, etc...I was expecting 5 or 10 people to come forward, so it was really humbling when over 100 people volunteered their time.
GP: What was your favorite part of Propeller?
AP: #1 was the length of the line to get in. (The turnout exceeded expectations by over 3,000 attendees). #2 was walking around and feeling the energy and excitement of attendees. People were engaged and having a good and useful experience.
GP: [GovPilot] certainly had a good and useful experience [exhibiting] at Propeller! We met prospective employees, our last blog post featured an interview with EthnicNJ’s Anthony Ewing, who we met there, etc…
AP: Good! So you’ll be there next year?
GP: [laughs] Definitely! Speaking of, what will next year’s Propeller Fest look like?
AP: We are still figuring-out the date and location, but there are many great regional venues available.
We’re aiming to hold some other events before another year passes, so join NJ Tech Meetup and follow its social accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) as well as Propeller’s social accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Livecube,Twitter) for upcoming announcements.
I just want to say that I could not have brought [Propeller] to fruition without the volunteers and the support of sponsors,not just financial support, but their endorsement. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Propeller’s exhibitors and attendees.
Thank you, Mr. Price, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with GovPilot!