Behind the Hustle: Chris Kelly (@ThoughtsOnBiz)
Co-Founder and President of the real estate industry’s first workplace-hospitality platform, Convene, Chris Kelly is the only person to have ever been twice recognized on Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list of Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs.
Chris has become an industry spokesperson on collaboration, workplace services and design thinking, leading him to be named one of the “Top 50 Event Industry Innovators” by Bizbash Magazine and one of the “22 Millennials to Watch” by Meetings and Conventions. Chris has been honored as a Top Entrepreneur by Crain’s New York Business as well as a finalist in Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year®.
In 2009, Chris co-founded Convene (www.convene.com) with his friend and business partner, Ryan Simonetti with the intention to transform the workplace experience and capitalize on converging trends in real estate, hospitality and technology. Their vision of infusing hotel-style services into commercial office buildings proved to be successful as Convene quickly became the foremost provider of amenities to institutional landlords and their enterprise tenants. Supported by a client roster that includes over 70% of New York’s Fortune 500, Forbes Magazine named Convene one of “America’s 100 Most Promising Companies” and Crains Business listed it as “The #1 fastest growing company in New York” in 2014. The company currently has 12 meeting venues serving New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, Metro with immediate plans to expand into Boston, Chicago and other gateway cities.
Previously, Mr. Kelly and his wife Adriann co-founded evoJets, a leading provider of global private jet charter services.
Outside of work, Mr. Kelly’s passion for traveling in developing economies has taken him to over 30 countries on five continents. He is a life-long student who enjoys endurance sports, snowboarding, and cooking. Chris and his wife Adriann reside in New York with their daughter Vivienne.
“hi, my name is…”
The world knows me as: Chris Kelly
I’ve also been known to respond to the names: ChrisKelly. One word…
I am wicked good at: Making the perfect egg – however you like it. I’ve got you covered sunny side up, scrambled, hard or soft boiled.
Least favorite house chore: Getting the mail. I’m looking forward to the day that we stop cutting down trees to send useless mail.
My go-to guilty pleasure food is: Chicken parm. Extra sauce please.
Favorite App: Pear App. It is a virtual personal trainer that uses heart rate to offer real time coaching and interval training.
Favorite quote: PERSISTENCE. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone will bring success.
Job Title: Co-Founder and President
Professional Superpower: I can distill a clear vision out of open ended opportunities.
My primary role in the events industry is: To develop logical solutions that help our industry achieve its highest and best use, which is to say, to help people collaborate and work better while enjoying their experience along the way.
Years in the events industry: Six and change.
To me, being an event hustler means: It means doing your part in making the industry more effective in business. Innovation, collaboration and experience marketing are the most important topics in the world right now and the industry needs to stand closer to them and play a more significant role.
The top 2 most surprising things I’ve learned about the events industry since starting are: I’m surprised that more meetings are not facilitated and that meeting formats are not challenged very often. I see companies investing a lot of money in meetings that could be better and more fun.
How did you get your start in the events industry? “I’ve got an idea” turned into “Let’s grab a coffee” turned into Convene.
My biggest event industry pet peeve is: Calling participants, ‘attendees’.
“No such thing as TMI”
One thing that would really surprise people to learn about me is: I backpacked for 2 years on less than $20 a day.
You can only keep 2 albums in your entire music collection -those albums would be: I’d try to negotiate to get a “boxed set” counted as an album and then pick Led Zepplin and The Allman Brothers. I could live with that, maybe…
10yr old me thought I’d grow up to be: An entrepreneur. I was already hustling candy and baseball cards on the back of the school bus.
Text or phone call? I’m fine with either depending on the reason for calling. Just don’t leave me a voice mail and we’re cool.
Android or iphone? I love Google but I’m all iPhone.
Toilet paper roll – Over or under? Under.
Connect with Chris: