In keeping with New Jersey’s history of innovation, proud native, Aaron Price, annexed Hoboken to Silicon Alley with the region’s first event dedicated to the intersection of technology, business, and music. The New York region is home to over two hundred investment funds, over fifteen unicorns, and hundreds of startups and corporations focused on innovation. Price felt it was time for an event to unite the all and Hoboken worked as a central location to represent the region.
Founder of Propeller, New Jersey Tech Meetup, and RocketFuel, Aaron is a serial entrepreneur since high school. Propeller brought new ideas to life, and there was something for everyone at the all-day event. The Stage of Inspiration and the Gibraltar Stage of Wisdom featured a who’s who of startup and innovative corporate speakers.
Innovation row showcased new and future disruptive possibilities for many industries; legal, HR, education, ecommerce, fin tech, fashion tech, health tech, and even government. It was a day of inspiration, education, and fun with spectacular weather and turnout.
It was standing room only as Aaron hosted a fireside chat early in the day with New Jersey sensation Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, entrepreneur, investor, and best-selling author.
True to self, Gary told it like it is. In today’s environment, startups are over-celebrated, and there is an enormous lack of practicality. Gary cautioned founders to not be romanced by entrepreneurship and urged them to apply self-awareness. “The emotional and financial pain of entrepreneurship is very real.” However, regret is the scariest feeling. If you have an idea, build it. Don’t call a venture capitalist if you don’t need to; why give money away.
Founders need to be practical as well. Being the founder of a business that is not making money is not winning; it’s losing. Ask yourself, are you building a business and seeing results or spending money? Focus on building long term value. Give, give, give, then ask (not take); you are not entitled. Be authentically you, understand that you change as well, and stay at it. When and if you throw in the towel is a personal choice each entrepreneur must make.
Gary’s prediction: Virtual reality for consumers is 15-20 years away; B2B is where it is at for now.
Notable mentions from innovation row (and there were so many more)
- 30 second pitch allows you to pitch your business idea directly to qualified investors
- Advizr has digitized wealth management (DriveWealth)
- Body x labs bridging the gap between physical and digital worlds
- fusar makes any helmet smart
- goBaby allows you to travel light and rent baby and child equipment from locals
- GovPilot providing e-government management solutions
- ily, from insensi, the re-imagined home phone that connects generations and winner of the live startup competition
- Kiswe is changing the game of live media
- Roar bringing augmented reality to everyone
- The Crated integrating electronic circuitry into textiles
Other sound bytes from the day
- In the digital age, technology is being humanized to solve real world problems. Artificial intelligence can help society.
- Innovation success comes by marrying purpose with platform.
- Corporate innovation is important. There is a need to disrupt the establishment. Corporate innovation requires an infusion of corporate culture with startup values.
- Corporations are failing to keep their employees engaged. There seems to be confusion between culture and perks. The two are not the same.
- Communication is key. If you need PowerPoint slides, you need to improve your story telling skills.
- Build a personal brand to be known as someone who will help; skills and network build a career.
- Diversity drives innovation. Diversity is profitable.
- Tips from Venture Capitalists: be crisp and concise; be a story teller; have a unique point of view; be resilient; recognize the transition from testing to scaling; have clear thoughts on path to profitability (even if it is not a short term goal); have a technical co-founder; know what you want from a venture capitalist.
- Being an entrepreneur, corporate or otherwise, can be rough. Build and leverage communities.
- Let’s propel.