Capital One Garage

Apple Cofounder Steve Wozniak is greeted by Capital One employees at the company's Plano campus.

As technology continues to change and expand, companies are looking for new ways to adapt and develop innovative ways to reach out to customers.

In response, Capital One’s Plano campus recently opened “The Garage,” a center within its offices dedicated and designed to foster an environment that will allow developers to create new technologies for the company’s consumers. The name for the center comes from the fact that many of today’s technology companies started with a few dedicated employees in a literal garage.

“The whole concept of The Garage is that great companies have been formed by ideas, and ideas happen in places that are very unstructured, and so generally the way in which companies are set up is they are set up to do particular functions, but it’s not as conducive to completely new ideas,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, president of Capital One’s Financial Services Division. “So in some ways The Garage is a physical manifestation of a space where you don’t have hierarchy and you don’t have functions ... where everyone can dream and think about what can happen, but you can also take those dreams and make it real.”

Yajnik said developers at the new facility will especially be working on new products for customers’ personal banker: their phone. The main goal will be to take banking into the future, he said.

To help celebrate the new addition to its Plano campus, Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, joined Capital One staff in forums and helped judge a “hackathon” contest, where teams of local college students created various computer applications and games related to the banking industry to help customers better understand their finances. The winning teams received $5,000 checks from Capital One and new iPads for the team members.

According to Wozniak, the DFW area is quickly becoming one of the largest technology industry centers in the country. Like Capital One, many companies are working to find more innovative ways to digitally market products to their consumers both via computer and mobile phone, he said.

“I’m glad there are companies like Capital One that actually foresee that the future is so important in the digital and software area, and you’ve got to make the environments that the key software developers of the modern day are used to,” Wozniak said. “Everybody is deciding that every industry that exists is going to have to go digital and get in with the modern digital and mobile trends.”

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