GrabCAD Launches New Service, Plans to Hire New ExecsMay 15, 2012
Boston Business Journal/Mass High Tech
by Kyle Alspach
Cambridge-based startup GrabCAD isn’t content to sit back and enjoy the success it’s had so far — such as more than doubling the number of engineers using its CAD model library since the end of last year and a string of products designed for manufacturers through the site.
GrabCAD CEO Hardi Meybaum says the company now plans to launch what could become the focal point of its business: a service that aims to change the way engineers and their customers collaborate on designs.
The company also plans to soon hire three vice presidents for its executive team, in engineering, product and marketing, Meybaum said.
The latter will be necessary as GrabCAD looks to roll out its new collaboration service within months, he said.
Currently, most collaborating between engineers and their customers is done by emailing designs back and forth and discussing them over the phone, Meybaum said.
What GrabCAD has developed is a “more visual way to collaborate,” he said.
The service, which began in beta last week, allows engineers to post 3-D versions of their designs on a private section of GrabCAD.
Customers can then view the design — rotating around it to see all sides — and put a pin in an area of the design where they’d like to leave a comment.
Meybaum demonstrated the service with a design for a robotic hand. “A customer can point the pin and say, ‘Can you change the length of this?’” he said.
The service doesn’t require customers to install any software, and thus “closes the gap for customers and manufacturers that don’t have any CAD tools,” Meybaum said.
GrabCAD has been earning some revenue from corporate design challenges that launched on the site last fall; past examples have included a deck vent for luxury yachts builder Saare Yachts and an interior for a Shelby car. But the new service is expected to become the main revenue source for the company after it launches, Meybaum said.
Founded in Estonia in late 2009, GrabCAD took part in the 2011 TechStars Boston program and kept its headquarters in Cambridge after the program ended. Meybaum had been splitting his time between Cambridge and Estonia, but he and his family moved to Boston several months ago, and he says he’s now fully based here.
GrabCAD employs eight in Cambridge and another eight in Estonia, but Meybaum said future growth of the company will be in Cambridge, where the company opened a new office in April.
The firm has raised just under $6 million in venture capital since its founding, Meybaum said, including a $1.1 million seed round last year, a $4 million Series A in January and additional angel funding since then. Investors include Matrix Partners, Atlas Venture and uTest CEO Doron Reuveni.
The number of engineers on the site has grown to 187,000 from 77,000 at the end of December, Meybaum said. The site added 31,000 engineers in April alone, he said.