The Art of Innovation : Technology meets Visionary Ideas at The Propelify Innovation Festival

This past October I had the pleasure of attending Propelify, a gathering of technology minded entrepreneurs in Hoboken NJ. Between the beautiful views of NYC and being in the presence of forward thinkers and creators, I felt inspired and enlightened. I had the great opportunity to speak with Propelify founder, Aaron Price, to learn about some of his experience and philosophy when it comes to the merging of art and entrepreneurship, and how to balance it all in a world of immense opportunity.

What’s the inspiration behind the brand Propelify?
I believe ideas are easy to brainstorm, which is why you have to propel them into reality and maintain momentum. Propelify is meant to represent people who turn ideas into action. That’s the whole essence of this brand, that’s the whole essence of this community. That’s why at Propelify our team rallied around the idea of, “we’re going to get this done no matter what,” allowing us to push through the headwinds.
Yes, it’s amazing to see the turnout and people really dedicated to the cause and expanding what they’re doing. How did you get started in tech?
I’ve always been very interested in technology from a young age. I liked taking things apart, and seeing how they worked. Also, there was just something about the internet and how you could connect with people around the world, that always resonated with me. I was in high school in 1995 on AOL instant messenger (which probably none of you remember) and my sister said to me, “you’re such a loser, who are you talking to?” I just remember thinking that’s crazy; there were people all over the world at the time online, if I wanted something, I had all of this information at my fingertips. I was hooked at a young age with how I could connect with the world online. I was fascinated.
How it connects people as well. It was a new way of people connecting. It was a weird idea to think you can connect with people in your little community. 
Yes, then in college,  I started a business called “Deliver You.” Deliver you was an online food ordering business ( but keep in mind this was 1998 when there were flip phones, and no real mobile internet). We ended up doing several thousand orders a month online. I had another idea that didn’t really work out, but the idea behind this was still the same. I found how to explore the idea of bringing a community together. At this time I felt entrepreneurship was a lonely career choice. Now it’s a little different than it was 10 or 15 years ago.
There seems to be more of a balance now, and a community based around entrepreneurship. 
Yes. When I went to school,  most of my friends studied finance, law, or medicine, but I was just a guy doing my own thing. I wanted to build a community around entrepreneurship. I went to an event where I met some people like me, and for the first time I thought, “Wow, these people see the world like I do.”
How do you think artists and innovators are alike?
I think artists look to see things differently, and to inspire others to do the same, maybe even to see something in a way they didn’t exactly want to see it. I think entrepreneurs and innovators are the same. It may be a more capitalistic approach, but we think about how to solve a problem in a more interesting way. It’s an art figuring out, “How do I make this work in a way that resonates with people, that makes them realize that there’s a solution to this problem that could be solved differently.” Not that art’s about solving a problem, but I do think it’s trying to encourage different kinds of thinking. I think that’s what entrepreneurs are trying to do.
I wanted to talk about the logo because it’s always interesting to understand the philosophy behind what goes into making a logo, and what you’re trying to communicate?
The reason that the logo goes from blue to light pink is because its meant to resemble a day to night, transition (like a sunset). The O is actually the negative of a propeller blade, imagine it’s spinning, and the O is the middle of it. We wanted it to be modern, and to resonate with the tech community, and represent the idea of motion. Since this event was created, the logo symbolizes taking an idea from day to night. I am a very big believer in the aesthetics of a brand, and how much they matter for the arts community. I think there’s another parallel between, artists and entrepreneurs. I want to know how people walk away feeling after they experience art, or in this case this event.
You picked Hoboken as a location for Propelify, what was the philosophy behind having the event here? 
I look to find ways where businesses can have a strong advantage setting themselves apart from the rest. So here in Hoboken, we had a few. One being that I ran the New Jersey tech meetup, which had the largest community of entrepreneurs in the state. Naturally, I had an advantage in New Jersey to start this event; and I actually think we have advantage in New York with this view.
New Jersey has some really interesting strengths. and part of it is geography. So we have this space with this beautiful view (which on a nice day there’s nothing that compares). I wanted to take advantage of a really unique venue, which I think is still very special even in the rain. But on a nice day, there is no better place in the world.
Where do you see Propelify in five or 10 years? 
The New Jersey Tech Council acquired Propelify this past summer, and I personally wanted it to become an annual celebration of what happens in tech throughout the year, in addition to what we’re doing to inspire and empower the entrepreneurial community. So, in the future, I hope that it becomes a week long event with more programming. We do get attendees from all 50 States, and 12 countries, but I would  like to see those numbers dramatically rise. I want us to get recognized as one of the leading tech conferences in the world.
What do you do to relax, since entrepreneurship is so demanding? 
I mean, honestly I enjoy just hanging out with my family. I do it for them, so when I have a down moment and I can be with them, I’m good.

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To learn more visit propelify.com

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