Speckle snags $5.5M seed to build open source platform for 3D drawings

The founders of Speckle, an early-stage startup based in London, are both trained architects and engineers, probably a rare combination. It enabled them to see and understand firsthand the issues associated with exchanging large proprietary 3D files from vendors like Autodesk and Trimble. They wanted to make it easier by building an open source platform to exchange and collaborate on these files.

As engineers, Dimitrie Stefanescu and Matteo Cominetti had the skill to start building something themselves, so they set out to develop a solution that solved a long-standing problem in the construction industry around sharing proprietary files among the various parties involved in a design and building project.

Stefanescu said the goal is to provide a platform to open up the process and make it easier for companies to exchange information in 3D formats. “It’s very inaccessible from both a human point of view, as well as a machine point of view. So it’s very difficult to extract information from proprietary file formats,” he explained.

“It’s coupled by an awful lot of political hurdles as well. And what we do is we break that open by allowing people to essentially talk with each other in real time using 3D. So there’s a level of interoperability there.”

He said that Speckle is also a developer platform on which you can harvest this 3D data and use it for productive things like building applications that make it easier to work with.

The companies that dominate this space have existed for many years, and Stefanescu said they have had little motivation to innovate around file-sharing or open source. “When it comes to open sourcing, it’s just something that the architecture, engineering and construction industry completely missed until now.”

The two founders began looking at this problem in 2015. They had a working product by the time they raised a pre-seed of $1 million in 2020. Today, the company has 13 employees as it tries to continue to build a community around the open source project.

Stefanescu said that as a couple of immigrants, they understand the need to build a diverse organization.

“We’re both immigrants in the country where we are based, so we know the struggle, we know the hustle. So we’re trying to make everybody’s lives better,” he said.

Today the company announced a $5.5 million seed round to help them continue building the company. Frontline Ventures and Matrix Partners led the round with help from existing investor Foundamental and several industry angels.