Fictiv Raises $15M To Connect Tech Innovators & Parts Manufacturers

Fictiv, a San Francisco software startup that links hardware developers with parts manufacturers in China, announced Tuesday that it has raised $15 million in a Series B funding round led by a China-based investment firm, alongside investments from well-known American tech backers such as Bill Gates and Intel.

Fictiv’s goal is to speed up the process of getting customers’ prototypes built, and their finished new products to market. Its software suite covers hardware innovation steps from the design of machine parts, through the selection of parts makers from hundreds Fictiv has vetted, to parts delivery tracking.

Fictiv, founded in 2013, says its customers range from small companies ordering prototype runs to large companies, including Facebook. In Silicon Valley, Fictiv’s customers are developing electric cars, autonomous vehicles, medical robotics, and consumer electronics, the company says. Single orders have run into the hundreds of thousands of parts, according to the company.

The Series B round was led by Chinese investment firm Sinovation Ventures, which focuses on tech companies in both China and the United States. The firm is based in China and has a Silicon Valley office in Palo Alto, CA. Joining in the round were Gates, Accel, Intel Capital, FJ Labs, Tandon Group, and the Stanford StartX Fund.

The new capital, which brings Fictiv’s fundraising total to $25 million, will be used to broaden the company’s network of more than 200 parts manufacturers, and to develop further digital tools that streamline coordination between hardware designers and parts suppliers. Fictiv had about 30 employees at the end of 2017, and plans to have around 100 by the end of this year.

The Fictiv process starts when teams of designers use its collaborative online platform to create renderings of parts, noting the desired materials and specifications. Fictiv then facilitates a match with a manufacturer that has the capacity and skills to produce the customer’s parts, using methods that include 3D printing, machining, and injection molding. Fictiv says it also negotiates rates favorable to hardware developers, and includes its fee in the price quote. The customer and manufacturer can confer about the details of the project through Fictiv communications channels.

Finished parts go through Fictiv’s quality control checks before they ship. Due to Fictiv’s quality guarantee and reliable delivery performance, the company says, customers that assemble parts into the final product can use a just-in-time manufacturing method. That means parts are scheduled to arrive shortly before they’re needed on the assembly line, saving a customer the cost of warehousing stockpiles of parts.

Fictiv’s manufacturing partners are all in various regions of China, and expansion of the network will remain in China for now, the company says. To protect the intellectual property of customers, Fictiv’s contracts bind both customers and parts makers to non-disclosure agreements. The company anonymizes files and data, so that manufacturing partners don’t know the name of the customer. Fictiv’s technology also aims to protect customer files from falling into the hands of unauthorized parties, the company says.

Photo credit: Depositphotos

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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