Olmedo and his co-founders, Stephen Dwyer and Jamie Yuen, first met in a robotics club at the University of Alberta, back when you couldn't just buy a camera-equipped drone off the shelf. They did a Mitacs internship together in 2014 and got an offer to work for the company where they interned. Instead, they started Copperstone, and that would-be employer became their first customer.
"We made a lot of money that then we could invest in robots," said Olmedo, who accepted an Entrepreneur of the Year award from Mitacs on June 2.
And invest they did, building a line of HELIX robots with screw-shaped pontoons that can navigate mud, snow, ice, or rocks, getting into places where humans either can't go or shouldn't go due to the dangerous conditions.
Along the way, they developed a business model that aligned with the needs of their customers.
"Over the last 10 years, robots have exponentially increased their capabilities, like delivering pizza, flying vaccines into remote areas, and so on. And initially, everybody thought that everybody would want to own a robot," Olmedo said. "But it didn't happen. Most people just want the service, they just want what the robot can do for them. So we had to adapt."
Listen to the episode to hear more about the other smart moves Copperstone made to get to where it is today. You'll also hear Unland and co-host Faaiza Ramji share notes on Zero Point Cryogenics, Element 4, and Correct-AI, three industrial innovators who will be making a pitch for investment at Startup TNT's Investment Summit V finale on June 23.