From Estonia to Boston: GrabCAD Looks to Play Big Role in New England’s Tech Future

8/23/11Follow @gthuang

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was for some type of bearing for a car. The second order was a hand drawing for a certain kind of wheelbarrow. The guy who sent in the order received his CAD renderings, which he could then take to a manufacturer, in an hour.

That was all well and good, but the founders didn’t want to spend all their time on CAD drawings. “We didn’t want to do it as a two-man company for the rest of our lives. So we thought, let’s hire some engineers. We hadn’t even heard the term ‘VC.’ We were two guys trying to build a company,” Meybaum says.

Fast forward to today—through word of mouth, some Google advertising, and venture funding to the tune of $1.1 million from Atlas Venture, Matrix Partners, and other investors. GrabCAD’s community now includes almost 20,000 mechanical engineers, mostly in the U.S. but also in Europe and Brazil. They are working with a wide variety of products, Meybaum says—“not a rocket yet, but some are very sophisticated.”

GrabCAD is looking to hire a few more people in Boston, mostly in sales and marketing. It plans to keep its software development team in Estonia. The company will probably raise another financing round next year, Meybaum says.

Meybaum has been based in the Boston area since last fall but still spends a fair bit of time in his native land. He even had an audience with the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, over coffee recently. They talked about how Skype’s success led to Estonia’s creating a direct flight between Tallinn and London. Meybaum joked with the President that he should consider starting service between Tallinn and Boston.

All the Massachusetts companies desperately looking for developer talent these days wouldn’t mind that either. Meybaum seems singularly focused on what his startup can achieve here—though admittedly it’s still very early, and GrabCAD has a long way to go.

“We want to play a big role in the future of CAD,” he says. “Not everybody has to build a mobile company. We’re all about the Internet, but there’s still a real world out there.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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