Vention, the first digital manufacturing platform dedicated to machine design, announced today it has raised a $3.5 million seed round led by White Star Capital alongside previous investors Bolt and Real Ventures. The company also announced the release of the launch of the first public version of its free cloud-based 3D MachineBuilder.
Notable angel investors also include Jon Stevenson, CTO at Stratasys and former CTO at GrabCAD, Louis Tetu, current CEO at Coveo and former CEO at Taleo and Rob Stevens CRO at Tive and former VP of Sales and Marketing at Kiva Systems.
Founded in 2016 by a group of former mechanical and software engineers from McKinsey & Co, GE, Microsoft, and Pivotal, the platform scales-up the LEGO concept to the industrial level, with 3D design software and artificial intelligence (AI) support. The company raised a pre-seed round backed by Bolt and Real Ventures, two technology funds based out of Toronto and Boston, and a handful of prominent angel investors in the computer aided design (CAD) and robotic communities.
“My CTO, who’s a veteran of the 3D and cloud industry, sometimes uses his daughter to test our algorithm. And we always figure if his 7 year old daughter is able to design in Vention, we just made the lives of a lot of people much much easier,” Vention CEO Etienne Lacroix told MTLinTECH last year.
The company transitioned into open-beta last June, by which time Vention had already onboarded several hundred users from 200+ US and Canadian clients in the aerospace, automobile, industrial and research industries, and delivered 4x more industrial equipment than initially planned.
Vention’s beta program was heavily tested by thousands of users, who spent 15,000+ hours creating over 3,000 assemblies in the 3D MachineBuilder.
“We closed the round in December. We ended up with four term sheets within 48 hours. Typically as an entrepreneur you’re happy when you have one, you’re super happy with two, and I never envisioned a world where I would have four term sheets,” Etienne Lacroix told MTLinTECH. “It was a tough decision, but we decided to go with White Star [Capital] because they’ve been exposed to the business for over a year and a half now. They’ve seen the progress and how far we’ve exceeded even what we set out to do. Everyone there really got to know our business model and were complementary to other business investors we have. After a lot of debate, we’re very happy to partner with them. They bring the right level of horsepower to the venture. They are very involved and we’re very very happy.”
In the course of the beta program, Vention’s users published over 200 assemblies that are publicly available, covering categories such as assembly jigs, cartesian robots, test benches, and robot stands.
“On our website you can see a public library of assemblies. We have over 200 public assemblies there now. Those are basically ready to use for design: you see it, you click it, you buy it. It really came together in the fall, and we’re excited to bring open source hardware facilities to the world. We’re going to continue to invest a lot in that.”
Vention also launched MachineMotion and MachineApps while in beta, the first of its kind all-in-one industrial motion controller that can be programmed directly from a web browser using a library of free “public apps” available on Vention.io.
The company will use some of the funding to continue to improve its 3D MachineBuilder as well.
“We will continue to expand the functionality on our builder on three fronts: 1) large assembly management; 2) design automation feature; and 3) In-CAD automation,which is basically the ability for our users to program their ‘automated industrial equipment’ in the same environment as the ‘3D design environment’, both being cloud-based.”
“Over the last 12 months, we established the foundation of a new category of CAD software. Our sole focus on machine design combined with tight hardware component integration enabled us to build an array of intelligent and automated features that could never have been possible with traditional CAD software. We are now entering a new phase of development with a greater focus on design automation, large assembly management, and In-CAD industrial automation,” said CTO Max Windisch.
Vention has already delivered hundreds of pieces of equipment in North America, Europe, and Asia including robot equipment, industrial retooling, and automated test benches.
“We’ve gotten to a point where it’s less about building the product and more about optimizing the product, putting the right customer support infrastructure in place so users can convert better on the platform,” said Lacroix.
Vention’s modular components and free Cloud-CAD enable the workflow to be completed in as little as three days, including next-day shipping across the U.S. and Canada. The company is now serving everything from large automobile and aerospace companies to emerging robotics startups. The company also recently became the first and only design software and hardware platform certified by Universal Robots, the world’s largest collaborative robot manufacturer.