officially launched its web-sharing software for hardware design at the prestigious Demo
conference in fall 2011, the company went from 500 Beta users to 1,500 users in a single day. Now they're up to 3,500 "early adopter" users, says company co-founder and CEO Zak Homuth, as they plan to launch a second version of the software this spring.
In a nutshell, the product can be described as "Google Docs for hardware," allowing designers and engineers to collaborate on the web while designing machines and other real-world objects. "Building real things is really hard and it costs a lot," Homuth says. "We're trying to make that easier."
Homuth and his two co-founders were friends and roommates as engineering students at the University of Waterloo, when they decided to try to solve some of the field's problems by introducing the kind of team-sharing software that had already been introduced to office functions and software design. Homuth says the field of industrial design software was well-established and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and perhaps because of its maturity as a software sector, it has been slower to see innovation.
The company got an early boost through a Silicon Valley residency at the Y Combinator
incubator, but came home to Toronto to establish itself. "We came back for the talent," Homuth says. "The money goes three times as far, and we're hiring the same guys as the companies in the Valley hire, from the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto, but we're offering them the city environment that they want, that feels like home." The company has raised three rounds of funding so far, and expects to raise more revenue for a broader marketing push after the new version is launched this spring, likely in April.
Homuth says his team has grown from the three original founder to seven staff now, and expects that after the spring launch, the team will double in size.
Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Zak Homuth, Founder and CEO, Upverter