Collaboration platform CoLab raises $17M in Series A funding led by Insight Partners – TechCrunch

CoLab Software, a Newfoundland-based software company that provides an online collaboration tool and issue-tracking platform to engineering teams, today announced it had raised $17 Million in Series A funding. Insight Partners, a New York-based investment firm, led the round. Participation from existing and new venture capitalists as well as angel investors came from companies like Xometry and Onshape, GrabCAD and Bosch, Tesla, and Atlassian.
CoLab was established in 2017 and allows manufacturing teams to share, review and get feedback in real time. The platform is currently used by several Fortune 500 companies, such as Schneider Electric, Hyundai Mobis and Johnson Controls.

CoLab was founded by Adam Keating, Jeremy Andrews and their work on the Model 3 program at Tesla. According to them, the tools used by teams building physical products were 20 years older than those used for building software products.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Adam Keating, CoLab CEO and cofounder, said that we became frustrated by how slow and outdated things were. While we were originally engineers to solve difficult problems and create things, half of our time was spent chasing down administrative tasks.

Keating states that they discovered that most processes were done manually and that email was the primary means of communication between teams. They decided to create CoLab in order to help innovative engineering companies improve their collaboration. The obvious choice for most founders in the early days would have been to open a Silicon Valley technology company. Andrews and Keating decided to open CoLab in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the easternmost province of Canada.

CoLabs' short-term goal allows engineers to concentrate on building and creating by automating their work. CoLabs is focusing on real-time capabilities that enable design and manufacturing teams collaborate efficiently.

The platform currently offers three main features: Track, Drive and Reviews. Drive allows users to organize their work without relying on other file systems. Users can also share files securely with others. CoLabs track gives a bird's-eye view of the activities within a team. The reviews feature allows users to collaborate on design projects, from formal design reviews to informal peer-checking.

CoLab currently has a 54-person team, largely located in Newfoundland. In 2019, the company signed a gender diversity promise. The pledge stated that 10 percent of its workforce was female. Today, CoLabs is 33% female. The company is aiming to double its workforce with this funding round.

We will open 25 positions immediately, and then we'll be opening a second 25-member group right after the new year. Keating stated that the goal of this is to help us get CoLab in the hands of more engineering groups.

Some of the funding will also be used for marketing purposes as the company has not spent much on this front. CoLab will invest the remaining funding in future products and features, which are due to be launched later this year or early next year.

CoLab announced that Josh Fredberg (Managing Director at Insight Partners) will join the board of directors.

Fredberg stated that CoLabs CoDesign tool has been a game changer for engineers all over the world. Rarely will you find a product that addresses both a technical and broad problem. But that's what happens when frustration is combined with an entrepreneurial mindset. Adam, Jeremy, and their team are uniquely positioned with their category-leading platform to address a problem that affects all professions.

Keating states that CoLab has a larger data model that they plan to use and that they will continue to provide tools to help engineers automate and combine their day-today tasks.

It's about using every tool that engineers have long-term. Keating stated that we would love to be connected into Slack and Microsoft Teams, Jira, so that CoLab is their home base when someone logs in.