SAN ANTONIO – From a business plan written on a napkin to a sellable product — CANopener labs is helping San Antonio innovators make their ideas a reality.
The three founders have already made a name for themselves in the tech business world and even designed a new key to the city, which was was given to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings when he came to the Alamo City.
From humble beginnings at Geekdom's Do Lab to running their own research and development space for innovators to show their stuff, Drue Placette, Dale Bracey and David Elam are now ready to make San Antonio an even bigger maker city.
"We saw a real need for people that had ideas, that wanted things built and they didn't want to go to a maker space and build it themselves. They needed people to help them understand how to build it, help get your idea to market, help them get it ready for manufacturing,” Placette said.
Even though the cost of building an R&D lab is significant, the founders of CANopener Labs said they've managed to keep their costs down.
“Over the years, we've collected this equipment. I spent my time collecting equipment and working on things,” Placette said. The three of us funded almost (everything) out of pocket, so we have no business loans.”
The founders say their company is a low-cost solution to get entrepreneurs on the right track before they start looking for investors.
“We kind of wanted to help people that wanted to make physical products and kind of lower that barrier of entry,” Elam said.
CANopener Labs focuses on prototyping and helping entrepreneurs with a proof of concept.
"We saw a big need with these different organizations, where they need a place where they can send people to help prototype, help build,” Placette said.
The lab also has a classroom to educate its clients, and the founders offer consulting services to entrepreneurs.
“Just research, ask questions and don't take no for an answer, because someone's going to come and tell you your baby is ugly, and it probably is, but that's only going to make you work harder,” Bracey said.
The founders don’t do it all alone. Nicholas Ramos, who works as an associate at CANopener and developed an app that brings food right to stadiumgoers’ seats, is helping the company’s clients by offering his business development skills and expertise.
To learn more about CANopener Labs, click here.