22 Jan

Pepper Talk with Paul Denton

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re learning more about Paul Denton! Just a little background before we get started, Paul works as a Principal Software Engineer. He’s a humble master of front-end development, but capable of picking up any language, tool or technology you throw at him. Paul has been with Eleven Peppers for 5 years!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
I haven’t had any nicknames since high school unless you count my kid calling me Doodie instead of Daddy.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Waking up generally consists of getting the 2 year old out of his crib and bringing him back to our bed where our 4 year old has been since he snuck in at 1am. While all this happens my wife lays there wondering why the heck everyone else is up only 2 hours after she fed the 2-month-old.

3. How would you describe your design style?
As a developer my style is whatever I see on dribble that I like. Luckily, I’ve got an entire company of talented designers to lean on when It comes to design work.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
My Dad’s always been into computers and like many nerds I started messing with them myself at home. I taught myself to code and picked up a job in IT right out of high school. I got lucky one day and received an email from a team trying an experiment; they would take a group of IT technicians and turn them into developers. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance and never looked back.

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
It may not be the best tool for everything, but I can get just about any job done with Javascript.

6. What is your favorite thing about being a software engineer?
I’m spoiled by having the ability to hit save and then see output of what I’ve been working on almost instantly. Solving hard problems and writing tools that help people do their job is greatly satisfying as well.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
Almost everything I do comes from a pain point that I or someone else is currently experiencing. The thought that I can automate something for myself or make someone else’s life easier really drives me.

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, a lot.
Sweet or Savory: Savory.
Favorite Movie: The Fifth Element.
Favorite place to travel:

Anywhere I can see the stars.


Spending my free time coding is turning into gaming with my 4-year-old, which I love. I haven’t been on my motorcycle much since we’ve had kids but I’m ready to start again.
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15 Jul

Pepper Talk with Matthew Castle

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re getting up-close and personal with Matthew. Just a little background before we get started, Matt is one of our software engineers, and has been with 11P for a year and a half. He works on software development for our commercial projects. Read his Q&A below!

1: Do you have any nicknames?
Nothing exciting, just Matt!

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?Say hi to my dogs, then check Slack and my e-mail. And get myself some mildly coffee-like drink.

3: How would you describe your design style?
I’m not a designer, but I try to keep my code style efficient but readable. I am drawn to simplicity and form that doesn’t impede function.

4: How did you get started?
Our fellow pepper Paul Denton was a huge factor in driving me to take on being a Software development. I enjoyed the problem solving aspect of it, and I guess I thrive on the constant micro-failures of developing so it seemed like a good fit!

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Visual Studio Code has easily become my favorite code editor. Nothing comes to mind that has been the worst for me lately.

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I like to spend some time to get the general outline of how the code project structure will be, but for me it’s more important to get over the hurdle of actually starting to get some code written to get that momentum going. Getting started is the hardest part for me, so once I get moving, I feel better about things.

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Developers smarter and more experienced than me. I’m always looking to improve and it’s always nice to have something to strive for.

 8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine
Sweet or Savory: Savory
Favorite Movie: The Empire Strikes Back
Guilty Pleasure: Video game collector’s editions
Hobbies: Gaming and gardening, mostly

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Not a design per se, but I think it would have been awesome to have written code for the Opportunity Mars rover. I love anything space exploration related, so it would be amazing to be involved in things like that.

Couple picturecat picture

snowy dog picture

indoor wedding picturedog profile

smiling couple

Thanks for meeting Matt. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

23 Aug

Pepper Talk with Rebecca Rice

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re doing a deep dive with Rebecca Rice. Rebecca is a Senior User Experience Designer who has been with Eleven Peppers for almost 4 years! She’s a big proponent of sketchbooks and graphite pencils and in her spare time, Rebecca is a badass ice-hockey player 😉 Want to know more about Rebecca? Read below:

1: Do you have any nicknames?
If there’s more than one Rebecca, they call me ‘Rice’.


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I gauge the time of morning by how light the sky is.


3: How would you describe your design style?
Flowy and polished with a splash of Tito’s.


4: How did you get started?
3rd grade and Unicorns. Lots of unicorns.


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
My favorite would be a sketchbook, paper planner, and some graphite pencils. The worst is being confined to only using a computer mouse.


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Ask as many questions as possible!


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Human nature.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Decaff!
Sweet or Savory: Sweet
Favorite Movie: Happy Gilmore
Guilty Pleasure: Raiding Home Depot at 8:00 am on Saturday mornings.
Hobbies: Ice hockey, painting, pet rabbits.


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?

I think Netflix as a whole (app design, interface, and business model) is pretty amazing. The concept that we can watch anything (anywhere) is pretty neat. I’m interested in seeing how far our need to ‘watch’ things will go. Maybe it will be more than just entertainment and venture into e-learning or something…














Thanks for meeting Rebecca. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

13 Aug

Celebrating 5 Years: Dave Meade

We have some exciting news this month at Eleven Peppers! We have our very first five year work anniversary, David Meade, Senior UX Designer. David started with 11p as the first full-time employee on August 12, 2013. He took a leap of faith and joined Kristen to create a name for a “small fries” company that was simply a vision, a dream, a concept– and the rest is history. It has been an amazing journey with Dave and we continue to appreciate his quick wit, talent and craft beer recommendations. Check out this graphic for more info about Dave, and read our special interview:



1: What do you like most about working at 11P? This question is about as tough to answer as if you asked what my favorite beer was (foreshadowing). I guess if I had to sort through all the great things such as the amazing owners, the awesome Pepper events, and the engaging projects, I would have to pick the people that make up the company. They’re a collection of some of the most talented people I’ve ever known, and I’m lucky enough to not only call them coworkers, but also friends.


2: What is a favorite 11P memory (in words or in sketch)? There’s a plethora of fantastic memories over the past five years, but I think signing the offer letter was one of the best and happiest moments of my life.


3: What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11P? Finally, an easy question! Hands down, it was my Kate Spade purse, which a pepper stole at the white elephant gift exchange, so I chose another box, which was another purse, which was stolen, but finally, I ended up with the perfect gift. If you know me, you know this gift couldn’t have been any better. It was Orioles opening day tickets, section 11, seats 10 and 11, and the ending couldn’t have been any more perfect. The O’s fought a hard battle, and in the bottom of the 11th inning, they won it with a walk-off homerun. You just couldn’t write a better script.


4: What is your favorite 11P event? I think it’s easy to say the Pepper Disney trip was the best Eleven Peppers event. The fact that we were flown to Florida, put up in a hotel, and we got to spend a few days as a company exploring the happiest place on earth, what more could you want? Mickey ears and Dole Whip? Yeah, we got that too!


5: If you were a pepper, what type of pepper would you be and why? Easy, Chipotle. They’re my favorite. Smoky, spicy, versatile, rich in flavor. I don’t know if or how any of that pertains to me, but it’s my favorite pepper, so I’ve claimed it.


6: Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice: This is another tough question because I am good friends with many of the Peppers and have leaned on most of them at one point or another over the past five years. If I had to pick one, it’s the obvious one, Theresa. She’s in my corner everyday, helping me through any issues I may have, whether they’re inside or outside of work, and she keeps me focused and inspired.


7: Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you: Besides Kristen and Bryan who tirelessly work day and night to ensure we’re all happy in our careers and love our job, I would have to throw a curveball and say Kate Rodman. I say curveball because we’ve never worked together, but I’ve heard how hard and efficiently she works, and I’ve been privileged enough to see some of her designs. Her talent is truly inspiring, and somehow she has the energy to continue designing in her free time. She has even had a piece published. She is so accomplished at such a young age, and I think the best is yet to come.


8: My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!


Get to know Dave a little bit better…

1: Where is the furthest you’ve traveled from home?
Theresa and I took a trip to the ocean side town of Lima, Peru where we enjoyed some of the best, fresh fruits and vegetables we’ve ever had, and even took a cooking class. We also hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Truly epic.


2: Where is your favorite city to enjoy a meal and a crafty brew?
San Francisco has to be my favorite, with its vast variety of international cuisines and some of the best breweries in the nation, there’s no better place to get a bite and a beer, and then walk it off on those hills!


3: How many marathons have you run?
I have only run one marathon, but I have run several half marathons around the country.


4: Which marathon was your favorite to run?
The Baltimore Marathon was my favorite, and only marathon. I knew I wanted my first 26.2 to be in my hometown. I was fortunate enough to run it with my fellow Pepper, friend, and inspiration, Kelsey.


5: If you could create and produce your own line of craft beer, what would you call it and what would it taste like?
I struggle with this all the time. I want to come up with a creative name that captures a little bit of who I am, and my loves in life: food, my friends, art, music, and the outdoors. If anyone can come up with a good name, please, let me know! As for what it would taste like, that’s just as diverse as my interests. I want to create high quality beers inspired by the foods that I love. Sours, IPAs, Stouts, all infused with fruits, spices, herbs, and anything else I can come up with. Again, I’m open to suggestions!


6: What is your favorite local beer?
It’s between RAR and Jailbreak. They both are producing a lot of very interesting and exciting beers. RAR’s best are easily their IPAs, but they made a sour with passionfruit, pineapple and habanero that was fantastic. Jailbreak is very adventurous with their beers too, using fruits, veggies, and peppers in many of their beers. Their barrel aged imperial stout, Dusk til Dusk is one of the best beers ever produced in Maryland, in my opinion.


7: What is your favorite national beer?
Trillium Brewing in Boston probably makes my all time favorite IPAs, but The Veil in Richmond is right up there with them, and they make some fantastic, heavily fruited sours, and a stout aged on oreos. Yes, you read that right, an Oreo stout, and it actually tastes like Oreos!


8: If you could cheers any living or deceased legend, who would it be and why?
There are so many inspiring people that have lived, and still live, that I would love to meet. I’ll just pick one of the many and say Mario Lemieux. The former Pittsburgh Penguin took his passion to the highest level to become one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He won two Stanley Cups as a player. When he found out he had cancer, he saw that as another challenge, fought hard, and not only beat it, but shortly thereafter returned to the ice. When it was time to hang up his skates, he decided to take his passion to the front office, saving the team from moving out of Pittsburgh, bringing them to four more Stanley Cups, winning three. What’s more inspirational is that he started a foundation to raise money for cancer research, and to build numerous hospitals for children who are battling cancer. He is involved in the community and a man who takes that passion to better his community and help people who are facing the same struggles he did.


9: Any secret talents or hobbies?
Although brewing beer is a talent and hobby, I can’t say it’s much of a secret anymore. I guess my secret talent is making friends. Just about everywhere I go, I end up making friends. Even when we’re on vacation in another state, or another country, I make new friends. The best part is that these friendships last and grow. You never can have too many friends.



















25 Jun

Pepper Talk with Albert Nguyen

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re doing a deep dive with Albert Nguyen. Albert is a Senior Software Engineer who has been with Eleven Peppers for over 3 years. He’s a stickler for clean code and only the finest caffeinated beverages.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
Usually everyone just calls me Albert, but I have been called Alberto, Albie, Al, Albs, and some others I can’t remember off the top of my head.


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Cuddle with Kathy (my wife) and try to muster all of my will power to get out of the warm cozy bed.


3: How would you describe your design style?
Since I’m a Software Engineer, I’ll describe my coding style. I try to keep my code clean, concise, organized, and readable. It’s helpful to spend the time to write good code so that the next person who goes through it will easily understand what is happening. It’s always fun to run into some confusing code, wonder who on earth wrote it that way, look into the logs, and find out it was written by you a year ago.


4: How did you get started?
It started in middle school when I saved my allowance money to buy my own TI-83+ graphing calculator. At first I got it to play games on it but then I started programming on it as well. In high school I learned Java and some other programming languages. I entered the web development world with my first internship during college at the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology where we did PHP development. From then on I mainly stayed with frontend development, but still dabble in Java and other languages every once in a while.


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
It used to be Eclipse but since we use IntelliJ on our current task, it has been growing on me and I like it better now. I also like using Notepad++ to jot down notes and it has useful plugins to format JSON and compare files. I’m also in Chrome’s Developer Tools a lot to debug issues. It allows you to step through the code, view network calls, modify DOM elements on the fly, and many other things. The worst tool is probably outdated versions of Internet Explorer that rarely render anything properly.


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
It depends on the project. For smaller ones, I tend to just jump in and try stuff out. Larger ones require more thought into the architecture.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Technology companies like Google that keep on innovating, coming up with new things, and improving what already exists. I use so many Google products on a daily basis like Gmail, Hangouts, Photos, and Maps. I also draw inspiration from the other peppers and my co-workers. Seeing them work hard and solve difficult problems inspires me to do the same.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, all sorts of caffeine, especially coffee. My favorites include Vietnamese coffee, nitro cold brew coffee, and iced/hot lattes. I did get the 2015 Pepper Superlative for most likely to have stock in caffeinated beverages. =)
Sweet or Savory: I really like both. I can’t decide…
Favorite Movie: I don’t have a single favorite movie, but I like movies that have an expansive universe that you can immerse yourself in and has so many intricacies between the different characters like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel superhero movies
Guilty Pleasure: Eating free food that shows up in the office
Hobbies: Playing video games, watching anime, cooking, working out, photography, deal hunting, spending time with friends and family


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Squishmallows! They’re the cutest and softest stuffed animals ever. Also, the Samsung S8 has a really sleek design that I like and the specs on it are great. I know that’s two, but they’re both so good.












Thanks for meeting Albert. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

21 Apr

Pepper Talk with Brian Lynch

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Brian with us. Just a little background before we get started, Brian is one of Eleven Peppers Studios more recent hires. He is one of our Principal Software Engineers and works directly with our federal clients to build websites and web apps to help make their jobs easier.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
“Brian” doesn’t lend itself to many nicknames. Bri is about the best I’ll get and will occasionally just sign an email that way, if not just B. Or I guess there are other names that just aren’t appropriate to be repeated [grins].


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
After my alarm goes off – only on a work day – and my wife jumps in the shower, I usually just lay in bed with my eyes closed not wanting to open them. Not too long ago I set up some home automation stuff in my house and I can now tell my Echo “Alexa, turn on bedroom lights” and they come on at about 30% brightness. I’m still not happy about the light being on, but at least it’s not a complete shock. Otherwise, some phone surfing before crawling out of bed and getting dressed.


3: How would you describe your design style?
Since I’m not a designer, I do better when trying to mimic or improve rather than create new. The best perk-up to my career was meeting the Peppers. I worked with several before becoming one myself, so having my now, coworkers put together designs for the websites I build, or at least having them to bounce ideas off, has become my design style.


4: How did you get started?
This could get really long if I let it… but, my dad was in the computer field my entire life and that let me get into the weeds of them very early on. I took a lot of electronic and programming classes throughout school, and graduated from UMBC with a Computer Engineering degree. It then took me another five or so years to realize that front end development – mobile, web, etc – was what I liked the most.


5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
If I say MS Paint, I’ll have to duck from the things getting thrown at my head, but I’m not a designer so I mostly use software development tools. Any uncomplicated IDE is generally all I need. Eclipse is far too bulky, but I’ve figured out enough of its shortcuts to make it useful. Apple’s Xcode for mobile development has a nice look and feel to it, but also has somewhat of a learning curve. Atom on Linux isn’t too bad. Notepad++ is always a great go-to. It’s hard to say I have a favorite. Give me jQuery and something to type some code in and I’ll spit out a website in a week. However, development platforms that need a month to configure with several dozen files cluttering up space and style platforms that try to put a one-size-fits-all approach to displays are the worst in my opinion.


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I might run through a few looks at the data I’ll be using and if I’m lucky enough to have a few designs to build from I’ll start creating some skeleton files for my site. If I have access to some of my past work that could be used in the new project, all the better. Otherwise, I just start knocking out some code just to get a display up on the screen. I tidy it up later once most of the functionality is in place. [Thinking out loud] Maybe I do have a favorite tool of the trade… in-browser dev tools. They let me do some on-demand styling to see what I might need to plan for later.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Definitely my fellow Peppers when I have access to them. Otherwise, if I need to style a button or table, I’ll usually poke around google images or some CSS sites to see if a style pops out to me.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, Caffeine. All the coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Usually Savory.
Favorite Movie: Fight Club and Deadpool are my go-tos.
Guilty Pleasure: Hmm… Bourbon Barrel Aged beers?
Hobbies:: Playing guitar, brewing beer, making things look good, pretending to be athletic.


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
I think I have more of a problem with not following through with my ideas and seeing someone else do the same later on. I wish I could say that hasn’t happened more than once.








Thanks for meeting Brian. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

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