St. John’s-based CoLab Software will be bolstering its staff in the coming weeks and months in preparation for the early release of its full-scale, cloud-based issue and design management platform thanks to $600,000 in pre-seed financing announced on Monday.
“The goal … is to take this funding, build out the team, get this early release going in July, do a good job with that and then, at the end of the year or early next year, have more of an enterprise product so that some of the bigger companies and players we'll be able to serve their needs,” explains CEO Adam Keating, who co-founded the company with Jeremy Andrews.
CoLab and its software, Gradient, was born from the Paradigm Hyperloop project that both Keating and Andrews were heavily involved in during their time in Memorial University’s faculty of engineering.
What they found working on the student design competition dreamed up by Tesla founder Elon Musk, was that communication and the sharing of information between project team members located in different parts of North America and in different time zones was linear and, as a result, time consuming and inefficient.
Gradient seeks to streamline the process by centralizing project information, issues and management in a single platform that is accessible through a web browser.
“We’re really focused on issue-tracking and design-management aspects of your design cycle now so that if you’re a manager and you’re trying to find something, it’s very simple,” says Keating. “You log into one web application with a very simple user interface, you can view the model, get all the information you need, you have all the latest updates, and you can provide feedback to your designers.”
Integration of Gradient with mainstream design software such as AutoDesk’s CAD or PDM was always in the plans, but after attending an accelerator hosted by the multinational company in Boston earlier this year, Keating says it became clear it would be a key piece moving forward.
“If you're an engineer who doesn't want to be outside of your typical applications, we're building integrations so that you can work exactly where you're used to working and never have to leave. You do your own thing but everyone else on your team is going to have the information that they need.”
The financing comes on the heels of the tech startup completing an early adopter program initiated to generate feedback during the building process. Keating says the feedback, received on an almost daily basis from some of the 10 companies, has proved incredibly valuable.
The feedback not only let the CoLab development team know what was working, what wasn’t and what needed to be adjusted, it started to give them a better idea how specific companies were using it.
“A lot of the feedback now is really aligning with what we had planned anyway and it's aligned with other users' feedback so we're starting to find that common denominator to what the next set features and capability for the platform looks like,” Keating says.
Helping that process along smoothly was Jacob Brown, who was hired as development lead just before the early adopters came on board. Keating says Brown brought a structure to the development team that helped avoid headaches.
“It’s made it a lot easier now to be able to push out new updates and not have the platform break,” he says.
Monday’s investment comes from three sources: Newfoundland’s Killick Capital ($250,000), Atlantic Canada investment firm Pelorus Venture ($250,000), and Panache Ventures ($100,000), a national venture capital company making its first ever investment in a Newfoundland and Labrador company.
“CoLab built a strong team that has iterated quickly to create a solution that truly solves an industry problem.”
Any funding is good funding, but Keating and the CoLab crew are particularly excited about Panache’s involvement considering the firm’s strong network connections.
“We're really excited work with them because they've got connections into some of the spaces we're working and they're also very heavily connected in the U.S. and throughout Canada.
“I think they're going to be an incredible asset to add to that portfolio because they're already working well with Pelorus and Killick, so it's really cool to have the full Canadian spectrum.”
Learn more about CoLab and Gradient at colabsoftware.com.