Llocal business owners from Trumbull and surrounding communities gathered at Jeff Works in the city’s Hawley Lane Mall on the morning of June 8 to network, meet with community leaders and practice their elevator pitches in a presentation of “Shark Tank” style in front of a panel of business development experts and representatives from local resource organizations.
JJ Oshins, chief investment officer of real estate firm National Development, participated in a panel and also provided space for Jeff Works for the event. Jeff Works includes several storefronts in the mall that have been converted into modern office space by National Development. Designed specifically for the growing number of home-based businesses springing up in small towns and villages, Jeff Works has locations in Trumbull and South Plainfield, New Jersey, and is designed to foster the collaborative atmosphere small businesses need to prosper.
“Jeff Works really came out of this idea that the nature of work has kind of changed, especially during the pandemic,” Oshins said. “People want more flexibility and they’re looking for places to get away from home or have a hybrid workspace. We created Jeff Works to be a very affordable place where people can come, whether it’s one day, a whole week, two days a week, they can escape the distractions and get some work done.
The company’s name, Oshins explained, comes from Jeff Labs, a Spanish company, which developed the software that underpins office rentals and helps organize space and events. During opening remarks for the event, Oshins pointed out that Jeff Works subscriptions start at $15 and fully serviced personal offices are only $99 per month, both with savings for annual subscriptions, compared to at starting costs of around $400 for some coworking spaces in New York.
Trumbull First Selectman Vicki A. Tesoro began the proceedings with observations on the value of small businesses.
“We worked hard with our partners to make this day a success for everyone,” Tesoro said. “At Trumbull, we strongly believe in home-based businesses. They are an important part of our business community. We want your business to thrive and grow, and as you grow, we hope you choose Trumbull to grow.
Tesoro reminded attendees of the home-based businesses that have dominated entire industries such as Microsoft and Amazon, and encouraged those gathered to dream big and not hesitate to call on her or Rina Bakalar, Director of Economic Development and city community.
Bakalar, who served as the event’s emcee, urged participants to support each other on the pitches.
“We’re here to support each other and see who’s in the room so that we and our panelists can help and support each other in a way that uplifts everyone,” Bakalar said.
Commercial presentations ranged from 3D-printed streetlights and public speaking training to psychic services and home bakeries. Over a dozen companies in a diverse set of industries were represented, many entrepreneurs also had more than one business in operation.
Two separate panels were present, one made up of experts in marketing, branding and social media and the other on optimizing access to capital. Valeria Bisellia, education and training program advisor for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, and Ramon Peralta, founder and chief brand officer of Shelton-based Peralta Design, served on the marketing board; Oshins replaced another expert who was unable to do so. The capital and finance panel was made up of representatives from local development organizations and Newtown Savings Bank and Webster Bank.
While most of the responses to the presentations were delivered privately to business owners during the networking lunch, many panelists occasionally chimed in, mentioning connections they had or suggesting others in the room might be worth it. worth talking about business growth opportunities.