Hardi is an amazing entrepreneur and will be instrumental in helping any founder start or scale their business. As the founder of GrabCAD, he built one of the most robust and engaged communities in the world, driving not just activity but also customer demand. He knows how to build great teams and cultures, how to evangelize new markets and products, and how to build the right relationships with customers and partners.
Having built his own successful company with the support of Matrix Partners, when Hardi decided he wanted to support other entrepreneurs as a VC, he knew Matrix was the only place for him.
Hardi is a natural born entrepreneur. He was exposed to technology and computers from an early age in Estonia, and graduated from university with a degree in mechanical engineering. After a short stint in a large Estonian company where he felt stifled and unfulfilled, he quickly switched gears and started seeking out more entrepreneurial opportunities where he could apply unconventional solutions to big problems. A good example–in one of his first projects he transformed shipping containers into homes and offices spaces for those in need. Realizing his desire to change the way things are done, Hardi embraced the founder lifestyle and hasn’t looked back.
After three company starts, Hardi hit upon the idea for GrabCAD, moving to the US to build the company. He immersed himself in the Boston tech community and quickly heard about David Skok, Matrix GP. After learning about David’s knowledge in building companies and his helpful, founder focused approach, he knew he wanted David as a mentor and investor. Hardi took it upon himself to get introduced to David, and Matrix ended up funding GrabCAD and David joined his board.
From 2009 to 2014, Hardi built GrabCAD into the world’s leading cloud-based collaboration platform for engineering teams to manage, share, and view CAD files. He sold GrabCAD to Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) in 2014, and continued to lead GrabCAD for the next year. With his team and community of 2.2 million engineers in good hands, he was ready to explore new things.
He spent time advising founders as a mentor and angel investor, and discovered that he loves engaging with entrepreneurs and helping them figure out difficult issues. He’s found his varied experiences as an entrepreneur can be critically helpful to other entrepreneurs. He’s able to help founders think through where markets are headed, what makes a great product, how to strike the right deal with customers and partners, and how to fundraise and manage a board. And, having felt the pain and difficulties of being a founder, Hardi understands more than most investors, what other founders are going through, from the lows to the highs of turning a great idea into a successful company.
Hardi says, “For me, there is nothing better than working with driven, smart people that are changing the way things are done. I can think of no job more fun and more fulfilling than being a VC and doing it at Matrix. I built GrabCAD out of the Matrix office when I first came to the US–I know everyone at Matrix incredibly well and have the deepest respect for each of them.”
Hardi is based in our Cambridge office and invests nationally across all areas of IT. He has a particular interest in vertical communities, hardware, and B2B SaaS. He believes that we are past the time of horizontal SaaS software and communities, and that the next phase of big companies will be built on mobile and cloud, and will focus heavily on niche verticals. He is also very excited by the disruption happening in hardware, which takes him back to his technical roots.
Hardi enjoys staying active outside of work, and likes to travel to new destinations to work on his kitesurfing and snowboarding skills. He loves spending time with his wife and two daughters, and has a long time love for everything science fiction.