The Wednesday Wine Down

Every Wednesday afternoon, The Grove becomes a place of refuge for its members, offering an informal, relaxed setting for fellow grovers to kick back and enjoy each other’s company over some wine. One late May afternoon, grovers came together in hopes of getting their minds off of work and lift the burden of responsibilities. With the help of Cultural director, Christina Kane, over the course of a few social games to break the ice, the group started to ease into comfortable conversation.

Everyone began talking about what brought them to New Haven, which consequently educed grovers to discuss about past jobs, former ambitions, and what’s led them to The Grove.
Meet Marc Audet — he is a computer programmer for a new innovative system that’s been developed to evaluate school teachers on a more objective basis. Marc emphasized the fact that this new program is much more positive and beneficial compared to the traditional evaluation systems used in most public schools. “Teachers that get poorly evaluated on certain skills, like engaging the class, are sent to complete certain modules online.” Essentially, it allows teachers an opportunity to improve their skills, rather than formerly having punishment as a reinforcer. Jesse Raccio, a fellow grover, shared with Audet his unfortunate experience of being evaluated during his first year as a music teacher. He claimed that traditionally teachers are assessed by administrators with no expertise in the subject being taught, which can lead to an unjust evaluation and an overall ineffective system. Together, Audet and Raccio discussed the nature of this new program and the potential it has to offer. Although Audet works more behind the scenes, programming, he agrees that the content of the program itself is more fair in its evaluations. As a music educator, Jesse commended Marc for his work and conveyed a certain appreciation.
Also, within the midst of discussing different projects, a few grovers discovered that they’ve all spent some time in Oxford, England. John Nixon, who works on the Board of Directors for team MakeHaven, mentioned he studied a year at Oxford University for engineering. Jesse Raccio and Marc Audet both chimed in that they had lived in Oxford for some time, as well. Together, they reminisced on their favorite pubs and restaurants in that area, as well as the type of work they did there. Audet reflected on the aspects of European culture he thought were especially different from America, saying, “People have a special respect for reserving tradition in the UK — living under a queen and their structure of government was something I had to get used to.” They went back and forth over some time about their experiences and bonded over their shared interests.
Matthew Masterson, a newbie to The Grove community joined in to share his backstory, as well. Originally from Kansas City, Matthew moved to New Haven with his wife and four daughters in need of a space to get his work done. “I looked on the website and I wasn’t really sure of what this place was about — like I don’t need to co-work,” he said using air quotes, “I just want space to do my thing.” Everyone at the table broke into laughter — they agreed that from just looking at the website, they hadn’t understood what the The Grove entailed either. Matthew spends his days here doing necessary paperwork for the company he works for, Deloitte & Touche Consulting. He adds that with a family as big as his, it’s been a blessing to find a place like The Grove to work.

Although grovers vary greatly in whatever profession they pursue, it’s easy to find similar difficulties and aspirations as independent workers. As stories are exchanged, people come to realize that through their individual journeys, they find common ground.

As admirable as it may be to work independently, it can be isolating. Take advantage of the community in which you surround yourself with and meet new people. Whether you’re running a small business, selling your artwork, or keeping up a blog, know that everyone needs encouragement to get through each week.
Join us for Wine Down every Wednesday at 4:30 pm, we’ll see you there!

Sweet Success


John Fitzpatrick Co-Founder and CEO of Applivate

John Fitzpatrick Co-Founder and CEO of Applivate

When John Fitzpatrick got up to give his 60-second pitch at the November 2011 Startup Weekend at The Grove’s former Orange Street location, he had never given a business pitch before. He also didn’t have a clear idea of the product he was pitching.

What he did have was a background in biology and an intimate knowledge of the constant tracking people with Type 1 diabetes must do. He knew that for people with Type 1 diabetes, keeping track of their blood sugar levels is vital, sometimes onerous, and levels that are too high or low can literally be fatal. “My wife has diabetes and we sit down to dinner every night and she would measure her blood sugar,” John told me. The readings determine the correct dose of insulin to administer. The dose is then stored in the insulin pump. “That’s data stored in these devices. The idea is, we needed to get this data off these devices and into the cloud where we can use it to help people manage their diabetes.”

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Life After The Grove

Ever stay awake wondering if there’s life after the Grove, and if so, what it holds? Well, if Raj Jalan,  co-Founder and CEO of Device 42, Inc., is to be believed, the answer is ‘yes, there is life after The Grove. And it holds growth, success and even a few challenges.’

Grovers who have been around for a while may remember Device 42 from the early days when The Grove was at 71 Orange Street, or from the days when Device 42 occupied the entire third floor of the expansion wing at the Grove’s current location on Chapel Street.20160202_113639In November 2015, Device 42 moved to its new location at 600 Saw Mill Road, West Haven, having outgrown their space at The Grove. Their new offices are spacious, bright with ample onsite parking, and located only a half mile from the exit off I-95. The new space allows for an increased staff and has several quiet conference rooms, for customer demos and conference calls.

Jalan founded Device 42 in 2010 and ran it from his home till the company took off to the point where Jalan needed space for employees and to meet with customers. Realizing it was no longer feasible to run the business from home, he looked into The
Grove. “The main benefit [of The Grove] was collaboration,” Jalan said. “So many helpful people around, full of energy more – than in the usual office.”
Device 42’s product, an IT infrastructure management tool that allows companies to identify, visualize, and manage devices (physical, virtual, or cloud), networks components, software, and passwords, was already developed by the time it took up residence at The Grove. The product allows a company, using Device42 browser interface, to visualize their infrastructure, understand network interdependencies, improve network security, and mitigate the impacts of planned and unplanned IT network changes.20160202_113748

Having spent years working as a consultant to various IT companies, Jalan had first-hand knowledge of the need for such a product and, with his background, he was able to design and develop it. His experience working with companies that needed the product meant he could also market the product efficiently. In fact, Jalan told me, Device 42 was in the enviable position of being profitable from day one.
Given those advantages, Jalan was not looking to collaborate with other Grovers on product design or development, but, transitioning from a solo, service-based business consultant, to entrepreneur of a product-based business with employees, presented new challenges. It was this area, what he refers to as “mind expansion” where Jalan found the creative energy at The Grove most helpful. He mentioned another Grover, John Fitzpatrick, founder of Applivate LLC (, as being particularly helpful by introducing him to The Founders Lunch group, an informal group of startup entrepreneurs who meet regularly for lunch and discuss various challenges they’re facing.

Asked what was the biggest challenge he faced on a daily basis as the founder of a startup, Jalan didn’t hesitate:  “What to do first. You have one hundred things to do; what are the five most important?” Jalan noted that this is an area where too many startup entrepreneurs get trapped. Having run his own consulting business before Device 42, Jalan knew how to handle various administrative details such as bookkeeping, but once the company got to a certain size, doing those things himself was no longer feasible. “I’ve seen startups where they won’t spend the money to hire a resource that can do the work in two hours that it would take you ten hours to do. I was at that point at some stage, I suppose,” he admitted. “But you can only do five or ten things a day. Which five or ten?” Another constant challenge, not just for Device 42, but for any business, is finding, hiring and keeping the right people. “Our most successful hires are from networking,” Jalan told me. “Networking is absolutely necessary for everyone at every stage.”

Other advice Jalan had for entrepreneurs included being sure to keep good records and not to get discouraged when things get hard. “I think it’s all about persistence. Just keep going.” Given that Device 42 now has clients in 29 countries and is actively growing its employee base, it sounds like this is a man who knows what he’s talking about.

Elinor Slomba: The Grove’s Curatorial Eye

Now here’s a challenge for you: Find the peephole at The Grove. Yes, for all you Grovers who harbor a secret fascination with peepholes but are too proper to indulge your fantasies, you now have dispensation. Go find the peephole and indulge yourself. Telling you exactly where it is would take away the thrill of discovery- and that’s the whole idea behind peepholes, right? It’s a secret. But I will tell you it’s on the second floor.

And just how did The Grove come to have a peephole? Enter: Elinor Slomba.B&W headshot She’s also the person responsible for having Marilyn watch over you as you work and the vines that add such a fun touch of nature outside the Big Bang office and in the downstairs entryway. While Elinor is not the artist who produced these works, she is the person who curated each piece for The Grove’s permanent collection. She is also the founder of Arts Interstices, which just celebrated its fourth year of business, and is dedicated to bridging the spaces (interstices) between organizations and the arts and more traditional businesses by providing a way for them to communicate and use each other’s models to their own advantage.
When Elinor was finishing her B.A. in fine art and cultural anthropology at William and Mary, a career advisor at the college suggested she consider a career in the Foreign Service, an idea that seems to amuse Elinor. It’s easy to see that she would have been well-suited to such a career. Today, instead of helping foreign countries navigate their cultural differences, she helps disparate domains recognize they each have something to offer the other. She’s expert in navigating the ‘between spaces’ and in making associations that may not be obvious at first, but once identified opens a vast array of possibilities.

It’s this associative thinking, a process Elinor describes as “definitely nonlinear,” that Elinor sees as a key tool in curating and that she helps people develop in her series of classes on curation.

“We live in a visual age. People can be energized by nontraditional gallery spaces,” she explains, when asked about curating art for business locations. In her work with The Grove, she realized that the concept of collaboration is a key element of The Grove’s culture.Marilyn9 In keeping with that value, all of the shows she has curated at The Grove have featured more than one artist. Marilyn, the piece above the elevator doors on the second floor, was part of the show Re:Generate – Art Based on Code (co-curated with another Grove member, Brian Monahan). In this piece, a collaborative effort by Dan Gries, Dannielle Kefford and Dan Bernier, the digital eye resolves the oversized pixels (made from pool noodles) to reveal the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe. The high-tech reference of the work, along with the collaborative nature of its inception, makes it uniquely appropriate for The Grove.

The two other permanent pieces, Peephole by Mark Williams, a New Haven-based artist and Climbing Ivy by Giada Crispiels, an Italian artist who completed a year-long residency at Artspace New Haven in 2012, were part of the show Navigate Complexity. Mark's wall piecePeephole is an example of artwork intended to be viewed “an eyeball at a time.” Climbing Ivy was the first piece acquired for The Grove’s permanent collection. Crispiels installed this work specifically for The Grove, constructing the vines and leaves from local newspapers and magazines.WP_000865

In addition to curating art, Elinor offers a 3-part course Open Your Curatorial Eye  for those interested in learning about how curating art and mounting an art exhibition. She is offering her next one at The Grove on January 22

Along with art curation, Elinor is the organizer of the meetup Artful Agilists which holds virtual meetings the first of every month at Through Artful Interstices she offers a range of services including coaching, a variety of training workshops including The Agile Gym™, writes guest blogs and hosts and produces virtual events. Agile is a project management method that differs from the traditional approach in that it stresses collaboration, individual participation and flexible response to dynamic situations. This method was originally designed for software projects but has gained popularity in wider settings. Elinor has adapted this method for her work with her clients.

Arts Interstices clients cross  many time zones in the U.S. and Europe.   Elinor has done projects for the New Haven Museum, Project Storefronts and Citywide Open Studios. Several Grovers participated in the public programs she produced for the New Haven Museum with the theme Connecticut at Work.
Originally from Tidewater, Virginia, Elinor has been in the New Haven area for 14 years and particularly enjoys the sense of civic space she finds in New England. “It just made me feel like I’d won the lottery to be moving up here,” she said. Elinor discovered the Grove through Meetups. “I like the day-to-day practice of being agile,” she says of working at The Grove. “If a client needs something I can’t provide, there’s usually someone in the [Grove] community who can.”

View From the Desk

Diana in conversation edit (3)

Grovers who have been here for a while may recall that in the past this site included a regularly updated blog. Starting with this entry, that featured blog is being revived. Current plans are for entries twice a month.

At the moment, plans are to spotlight a member in one entry and provide information on happenings at The Grove, co-working, the greater New Haven community and other information that may be of interest to the Grove community on the other blog post.  Our first spotlighted member is  none other than  . . . Ms Christina Kane!

While you may already know what type of business a particular member is engaged in, you may not know much about that member as a person. Spotlight pieces will provide a glimpse into the less obvious side of that person sharing a power strip across the table with you.

I’ve chosen to call this blog View From the Desk because, as the current (sometimes not very animated) Thursday Animator I enjoy a unique overview of daily life at The Grove. One of my fantasies has been to bring in my academic gown, snazz it up with a lace collar a la Judge Judy and wear it while officiating over room reservations and issuing notices of Big Mail. Maybe even use the stapler as a gavel . . .

Which brings us to a few points: Please remember when reserving rooms for meetings or conference calls, not all the rooms have walls that reach the ceiling. Therefore, what you say may be heard outside that room. If you and your clients will be discussing delicate business matters it would be better to book a room with complete walls. Along with the Murtha Cullina Room in the Happiness Lab, there are also two smaller rooms that may provide more privacy. Similarly, if scheduling a meeting that you anticipate being somewhat raucous but where confidentiality won’t be an issue, consider meeting in the Clubhouse where others won’t be disturbed.

I hope you all have had a wonderful summer and am looking forward to throwing the spotlight on each of you and bringing you lots of interesting news in the months to come.