Colab's Collaborative Tools for Engineers Raise $21 Million in New Funding | TechCrunch - Latest Global News

Colab’s Collaborative Tools for Engineers Raise $21 Million in New Funding | TechCrunch

Engineers Adam Keating and Jeremy Andrews were tired of using spreadsheets and screenshots to collaborate with teammates – so they founded a startup, Colab, to create a better way.

The two met as students at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where they studied mechanical engineering together. As they completed their final internships before graduation (Andrews at Tesla, Keating at healthcare startup Reflexion Medical), they discovered that professional engineering teams relied on cumbersome tools—namely spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks—to get collaborative work done.

“We’ve experienced firsthand the downsides of compiling critical design reviews by sending screenshots of designs back and forth via email,” Keating told TechCrunch in an interview. “This led to frustratingly long review cycles, endless administrative work and issues that fell through the cracks despite the best efforts of everyone involved.”

Being entrepreneurial types, Keating and Andrews decided to start a company they called Colab to develop the engineering collaboration suite they wanted to use themselves. The company’s tools, which Keating says are now used by teams at Ford, Johnson Controls and Schneider Electric, enable engineers to review design files, capture and track feedback, and document issues from a single dashboard.

“Colab allows multiple engineers and cross-functional stakeholders to review designs together and build on each other’s feedback,” said Keating, now CEO of Colab. “Colab brings together design discussions previously lost in emails, spreadsheets and notebooks into a platform that integrates back into enterprise systems like product lifecycle management, making it easier for engineers to focus on decision making with the right data available .”

Colab stores customer design data such as 3D models and engineering drawings in its cloud. Built-in sharing tools allow engineers to send files to one or more suppliers while keeping selected information such as feedback and comments private.

Photo credit: al

AI is not currently a major part of the Colab experience, but Keating says it will be in the next few months. Colab plans to use its growing customer data — anonymized and privacy-preserving, Keating promises — to build AI models that help engineers make more “informed” decisions while automating routine and administrative work.

“Colab has a large amount of user-generated natural language data – design feedback – that is not always captured in other enterprise systems,” Keating said. “This allows Colab to explain and analyze why designs are created based on human insights. Colab understands not only how a design has changed, but also why it has changed.”

Meanwhile, Colab, which operates on a software-as-a-service model, appears to be doing well financially; Keating said sales have doubled in the last six months. He expects the release of paid add-ons this year and next to increase profits even further.

Colab announced today that it has raised $21 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Partners, with participation from Y Combinator, Killick Capital and Pelorus VC.

“The $21 million, which brings Colab’s total capital to $40 million, was raised specifically with the intention of using half of it to accelerate the expansion of the existing go-to-market movement and the other half to invest in larger bets such as AI invest. ” He said. “Much of the investment will go towards expanding the team, having built a very efficient business over the last few years.”

Colab plans to grow its workforce from 86 employees, most of whom are based in Newfoundland, Colab’s headquarters, to about 120 employees by the end of the year as the company expands into Canada and the United States

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