Peter Propp’s Meta-Start-up

It sounds like a tech version of those Russian nesting dolls: starting a start-up whose goal is to create more start-ups.

That’s the best way to describe the Stamford Innovation Center. And — in a city known more for high finance than high tech, and a county filled with corporate commuters — it’s already made its out-of-the-box mark.

Peter Propp

Peter Propp

Westporter Peter Propp is the SIC’s vice president for marketing. He’s a passionate advocate for the organization, whose cooperative workspace, creative programming, networking opportunities and educational events offer entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups a place to gather, collaborate, and innovate.

Peter has plenty of experience in the tech world. Much of it came at IBM, where he was a global marketer in charge of, among other products, the WebSphere Application Server and Studio.

IBM is to start-ups as GM is to Tesla. But Peter has leaped into his new role with gusto — and many good ideas.

“I like starting things,” he says. He points with pride to FairCo TEEM (Fairfield County Tech, Environment, Entertainment and Marketing) meetups. He helped grow the group from 4 people gathered above Bogey’s in the summer of 2010, to nearly 400 members. Events are held throughout the area.

“There are so many smart, accomplished, experienced people here,” Peter says. “A lot of them would like to reduce the hours they spend on the train every day.”

But they need a different set of skills to bring their ideas to reality. They need angel investors. They need developers to help them build prototypes.

Stamford Innovation Center logo

The Stamford Innnovation Center helps. Housed in a beautiful 1907 Beaux-Arts building — the city’s old Town Hall — across from the mall, its high ceilings and marble somehow help nurture 21st century ideas and contacts.

Right now, a start-up is building a platform for lawyers doing due diligence on acquisitions. Two women from Wharton have created a business that helps students manage their education debt.

In addition to workspace, SIC hosts events. Nine are scheduled for January, including discussions, presentations and meet-ups.

During the Stamford Innovation Center Startup Weekend, developers and designers spent 54 hours creating ideas -- then pitching them, in a competitive setting.

During the Stamford Innovation Center Startup Weekend, developers and designers spent 54 hours creating ideas — then pitching them, in a competitive setting.

Peter calls the Stamford Innovation a “meta-startup.” That’s not a term he was likely to hear at IBM.

He enjoyed his work in corporate America. But, he says, in that world “you need permission and consensus for everything.”

The start-up world is all about “how much you can do, and how quickly.”

At the Stamford Innovation Center, the answer is: “lots, and real fast.”

9 responses to “Peter Propp’s Meta-Start-up

  1. Anything Peter Propp does will be fabulous. Best of luck

  2. Forgot to wish Peter a very happy birthday!!!

  3. Kerstin Warner

    This is exciting! Congratulations, Peter! Also – I wonder if there are connections we could make with our Westport Mini Maker Faire? One of my friends is in the photo – Ash Ahuja, lower right – and he said it was an inspiring weekend, working with all the entrepreneurs. Best wishes to all involved.

  4. I’m a big supporter of SCI. Best of luck to Peter. Though I will say, as someone who has made a successful living in corporate America, I’m not sure I totally agree with his generalizations.

    But to each his own. Cheers.

  5. Mark Mathias

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Peter! A professional organization I participate with had an event at the Stamford Innovation Center in November. It was a great event. Peter welcomed us, the space is great and I encourage everyone to connect with the Stamford Innovation Center to find out about and participate in the good work being done for our community.

  6. Thanks Dan for the great piece and to the 06880 crowd for all the nice comments. I should have mentioned fellow Westporters Barry Schwimmer (Managing Partner, my boss) and the amazing Janis Collins (our Startup Company Advisor). If you know anyone with a startup, have them visit: and let us know what they are up to, join us for an event. etc.

  7. John McCarthy

    Peter, Congrats and Happy Birthday.
    More startups in CT, always nice to not have to get on the train.

  8. Fantastic piece and well deserved. Peter you really make the Innovation Center work. Thanks so much for everything and happy birthday.

  9. isn’t it curious that everyone who commented on this post used their name???