Melbourne startup JigSpace has raised US$1.4 million ($1.96 million) in seed funding, as COVID-19 boosts the use of its 3D presentation platform by 900%.
The funding comes from Aussie VC funds Rampersand, Investible and Eleanor Ventures, as well as US investors Boost VC and General Catalyst.
Founded about four years ago, JigSpace is a platform for sharing interactive 3D presentations, and counts Apple among its users, as well as medical device giant Medtronic and Hino Trucks USA.
“We make a piece of software that enables anyone to share knowledge in 3D,” head of product Sam Granleese tells SmartCompany.
The idea is that the technology is easy and accessible, he says. That is, it can be used by a teacher in a classroom setting, or to help sales professionals demonstrate a product remotely.
And, mechanical engineers and designers can use the tool to share information with others within their business, who may not usually be privy to such detailed knowledge of product design.
“We’re opening up that information to everyone else in an organisation.”
Launching in 2016, the startup onboarded its first paying customers late last year. Previously, the free app reached 4 million downloads.
Granleese is tight-lipped on the revenues the startup is seeing so far. But, he does say JigSpace has seen a 900% increase in the use of the platform since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re targeting pretty high month-on-month growth rate at the moment,” he adds
“We’re hitting that at the moment.”
The funding will propel the startup firmly into its commercialisation stage, Granleese explains.
“The first few years of the company were very much research and development and building out the technology,” he says.
Now, the startup will be growing its engineering, marketing and sales teams, to build out new features and build its customer growth for its next phase of growth.
The global standard
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic makes it hard to make any predictions or plans, but that’s not stopping Granleese or the JigSpace team from dreaming big.
“We’re trying to make Jig the global standard for 3D presentations, the same way people think about PDFs,” he says.
The PDF is a universal format now, he says, working on all devices and all operating systems.
“The 3D development world is incredibly fragmented and diverse,” he explains.
“Therefore, all of that content is very tightly controlled by a few people in every business. We’re trying to make that much more interoperable with all types of users.”
And, while COVID-19 has led to the swift uptake of the tool, Granleese says that, like in so many other areas of business, the pandemic has been an accelerant to change. This isn’t a shift that will be reversed once the crisis has passed.
“It’s putting the toothpaste back in the tube,” he says.
Things such as flying to physical locations for sales meetings, for example, may come back in some way post-pandemic, he says. But even if the health risks weren’t there, the practice might never be as widespread as it once was.
“Everyone has realised they can achieve a lot remotely. And the cost of time, as well as travel costs, are immense for those sorts of things.”
Also, the problem JigSpace is solving has always existed, he says.
“It’s been the motivation and the technology that haven’t existed,” he adds,
“The motivation only has to occur once.”
The pandemic has sparked an uptick in the use of all kinds of remote tools that will likely still benefit businesses after workers return to the office.
JigSpace does this by “unlocking content”, Granleese says.
“Once that’s unlocked, you don’t lock it back up,” he adds,
“The value that’s being shared with the rest of the business … is quite demonstrable.”
While he predicts we will ultimately find ourselves in “some sort of hybrid”, he says if a business continues to add utility and usefulness to a business — whether they’re working remotely or otherwise — they won’t be damaged by a return to ‘normal’.
“I think a lot of these changes will be surprisingly permanent.”