Much of the curriculum at The Crucible focuses on artistic uses of industrial technology. This month, however, Alex Dilone and Felix Torres-Chaviano are using The Crucible’s facilities to prototype a product they’re looking to bring to market next year. The product is still in development and has been blurred in the photos for security’s sake.

Sarah Dabby talks with the two entrepreneurs to find out why they chose The Crucible as their startup factory floor.

Sarah Dabby: Let’s start with an introduction!

Alex Dilone: My name is Alex Dilone, and I’ve started a company that will be making tools for gaming and fitness. Here at The Crucible, Felix Torres-Chaviano and I are building out some of our project ideas and prototypes for the company.

Felix Torres-Chaviano: My name is Felix, and I work as a wood carver at The Crucible. I’m making the prototypes for Alex.

SD: How did you guys meet, and how long have you been working together? 

FTC: We were both looking for housing in Richmond, and the owner of the house said we should meet, so we did.

AD: We’ve been working together for two years now, when we became roommates in Richmond. We’re no longer roommates, but we still work together. It was a little bit of fate.

Alex and Felix review blueprints.

SD: How did you both discover The Crucible?

FTC: I discovered The Crucible seven years ago. The moment I moved from Cuba, I started looking for work. A friend of mine gave me different names of places where my skills were an asset; The Crucible was one of them. I brought my resume around seven years ago. They called me after a few months and I started working here.

SD: As an entrepreneurial team, what’s your experience been like at The Crucible?

AD: It’s a great place, a great chance to work with a good company that’s doing things for the community – and have open arms for people who want to come in with good ideas. I feel like they’re established, and they’ve done good things for the art community overall.

SD: Would you recommend this to other entrepreneurs? What words of wisdom would you have for them?

AD: I sure would. As for words of wisdom: First, find out if the materials you’re working with are comparable to what they have here, and if The Crucible can help you with that. Then, from what I’ve experienced, there are a lot of professionals here – so whoever you’re working with, try and see it as an opportunity to build and express your ideas.

Making sure the prototype is up to spec.

SD: What’s your dream in creating this project?

FTC: It’s real. It’s present. This question is hard, because I’m making the dream. I’m living the dream.

AD: My hopes are to open up the minds of people, and kids, who might otherwise give up if they weren’t given a break by big companies – to show that there is a way if you have ideas; there is a way if you have a will; there is a way if you connect with the community, with places such as The Crucible, where you can connect with a lot of different artists and professionals who can help make your dream come true.

Setting up for a fundraising photoshoot.