The Personal Story Behind the "217"

by M. Grosse, posted Dec. 15, 2019

Posted Dec. 15, 2019

On a brisk winter day in New Hampshire back in 2001, a handful of runners on a high school track set the stage for a moment that would give rise to the company's namesake.

217 Studios began as a simple enough idea: To be a meeting place of opportunity and potential. The name itself was chosen to represent a time from company founder Michael Grosse's past when an unexpected opportunity had allowed months of behind-the-scenes hard work and preparation to outshine all expectations.

To Grosse, it was an opportunity to realize a longtime dream that he could not refuse...and there was only one name that seemed right to brand the company he would create in order to seize the moment: "2:17".
It started with an offer he couldn't refuse...

In 2010, 26 year old Michael Grosse had already earned his BA in journalism with a minor in film studies. The not-so-recent graduate, however, was a long way off from realizing his hopes to combine the two with a career in documentary film production. Instead, he was working a low-wage job as a movie theatre manager in New Hampshire.

On the side, Grosse was moonlighting both as a fencing coach at his alma mater and as a production assistant on independent TV and film crews around New England. The work was unpaid and far from glamorous, but his production efforts coupled with his real-world management and coaching experience had gotten the attention of regional station reps.

Sure enough, when the next broadcast season rolled around, a local rep for NBC Universal Sports Boston asked Grosse if he could fill a half-hour time slot with a show about fencing...a sport in which he had competed in college and still coached at the University of New Hampshire.

To Grosse, it was an opportunity to realize a longtime dream that he could not refuse...and there was only one name that seemed right to brand the company he would create in order to seize the moment: "2:17".

2001: A Race Odyssey

Nearly 10 years prior to the opportunity to produce a television series, a high school track had been the setting for another opportunity that would give a name to Grosse's production company.

This was in the year 2000. Grosse--then a bottom tier track & field athlete--become a student of the sport. He began training hard and reading everything he could about running. Steadily, he rose from ranking among the slowest participants on the team as a freshman to a dedicated sophomore competitor.

By 2001, that hard work had gotten the attention of the team elders, who needed to fill the final slot for a regionally-competitive 4x800 meter relay team. A race-off was arranged between Grosse and the de-facto choice for the 4th spot (a star-athlete freshman). Everybody's expectation was that Grosse would run just fast enough to motivate the other guy to lay down a faster time.

The two toed the start line with an audience of three. The command to start was given and a wristwatch began ticking away on a cold New Hampshire winter afternoon as the two raced off for the final spot. At first, Grosse was trailing as expected. By the halfway point, however, the leader began to fade and Grosse surged ahead--much to the shock of the small group of onlookers.

Ultimately Grosse won the duel and his spot on the team. When everybody checked the wristwatch, the timer had clocked his winning half-mile at 2-minutes, 17-seconds.

The Rest is History

From there, Grosse went on to win many races on the track, cross country, and even road race levels. He co-captain his senior high school cross country team, and graduate as one of the most decorated athletes of his class. In college, he competed nationally in a new sport (fencing), and would go on to coach and produce a television series about that sport.

What's in a Name?

The name is meant to be a reminder of what can happen when an opportunity gives someone's potential a stage on which to shine. We like to see our technology as that opportunity to help your potential shine in your given arena.

We've come a long way since our initial founding, but we try and remember it all began with a single 2:17-moment.

Author Michael Grosse

About the Author


Founder, CTO  •  217 Studios LLC

Techtrepreneur by day, fencer by night (sometimes vice versa). Michael Grosse founded 217 Studios in 2010 to develop a television show for broadcast TV in Boston. Since then, the lifelong student of media and web tech has gone on to stay ahead of changing client needs to learn and integrate advances in custom web application production.

Today, Grosse is well versed in the full-stack and devops practices needed to meet the evolving needs and opportunities found running a business in an increasingly tech-centric world. When he isn't coding, he can still be found coaching or fencing in Division 1 USA Fencing competitions around the country as a “B” rated epeeist, still working towards his "A" rating.