Comate supports Day of the Entrepreneur
Read all about Comate's entrepreneurial story by UNIZO
In the heart of Leuven, the office and workshop of a passionate team of product designers and engineers thrive at Comate. They specialize in developing new, innovative hardware products for businesses. According to co-owner Sander Van den Dries, Comate's strength lies in the collaboration between product designers and engineers, coupled with a process that transforms ideas into successful technological masterpieces.
Entrepreneur's Day Ambassador
Sander, Co-founder of Comate is one of the ambassadors for Entrepreneur's Day 2023: "We've been fine-tuning our approach for thirteen years, which is why we are so innovative. Our process of translating an idea into a successful product is frequently adjusted," begins Sander. "It has evolved from a process where clients approached us with an idea, and we built it, to a process where we thoroughly investigate everything first. Where will the device end up? Who is the end-user? How should it look? What's the budget? What regulations and standards must the product meet? These are questions we address before commencing development."
Sander proudly explains the significant changes compared to five years ago: "For instance, we've ventured into developing Class III medical devices. That was a process we had to teach ourselves. And, overall, the changes have come because we dare to invest in our people."
Sander emphasizes the significant investment in innovation, mainly by allocating resources for training: "Our main investment is in our colleagues. We're involved in around a hundred projects annually. So, it's essential to share the knowledge we gain and stay informed about what others are doing or learning. Preserving such information requires considerable time and money. This input is crucial because it helps us avoid certain mistakes, and colleagues can learn from each other. Additionally, we operate in a highly technological sector where everything is constantly evolving and changing rapidly. We must stay on top of things, and our clients rely on that. They don't want us to overlook anything."
Comate aims to foster a culture where failure is seen as a learning opportunity, feedback is highly valued, and continuous learning is crucial: "Our team consists of individuals who are always eager to learn. They are incredibly enthusiastic. At Comate, we try to create a culture that supports this eagerness. We believe that failure is a school: try it, and if it doesn't work, no problem, we have more data to work with. It's part of the job we're in—making mistakes because that's R&D. You don't know where you'll end up in advance. You have to test things; otherwise, you won't learn. If you don't dare, you'll never discover anything new."
Until the establishment of Comate Ventures, Comate never sought financial support, says Sander: "We often look for ways to finance the development of a hardware device for our clients. We use all accessible resources, such as the KMO Portefeuille, VLAIO, and even subsidies from the Province of Flemish Brabant. We have a good collaboration with the Province, so we occasionally refer clients if it can be an interesting financing option for them."
Regarding support in the broader sense, Sander indicates that Comate always consults with a coach or advisor on all fronts: "We're not hesitant to involve external expertise in projects when we're not (yet) familiar with certain matters ourselves. Managing a company with 15, 50, or 80 employees is entirely different. I had no idea how to approach that. So, we sought coaches, consultants, and advisors to assist us in that area."
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