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March 21st, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Vention is proud to be a finalist for the Automate Launch Pad Startup Competition in Chicago Next week. Come see us at booth #2400.
March 16th, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Vention is excited to announce that it is the winner of Harvard Business School’s Canada New Venture Competition, placing first in addition to winning the public award.
“We are extremely honored to be recognized for the work that we do at Vention,” said Etienne Lacroix. “In only 8 months, we have made enormous progress and we will do even more in the coming months as we grow the team and expand the functionalities of our web platform.”
Based in Montreal, Vention aims to democratize machine design through its web-based 3D machine builder and library of fully compatible hardware components. By using a fully integrated design ecosystem, business have witnessed a cycle time improvement of more than five-fold. Customers are able to design their machines online and get it shipped the next day.
The HBS New Venture Competition was held by the Harvard Business School Club of Toronto. To qualify, startups must have at least one founder who has officially graduated from one of the alumni status-granting programs of Harvard. Contestants were judged on defining a problem and solution, identifying the addressable market segment, the soundness of their business model and financing requirements, and the strength of the team. Judges included individuals from prominent venture funds such as OMERS and executives from the technology industry.
For more information on the competition, click here.
February 21st, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Vention.io is announcing the beta launch of their browser-based 3D machine builder platform, enabling established and emerging designers to design and order their custom industrial equipment in just a few days.
Vention is providing an intelligent cloud-based 3D design platform, embedding a library of “ready-to-order” industrial-grade components. The platform is suited for the design of fixed and automated equipment in the fields of small business automation, lean manufacturing, product validation and research, and industrial design. Usage of the platform is free and users can order their machine for next day shipment upon design completion. To experience the platform, potential users are invited to sign up for free on www.vention.io or to submit their project ideas to email@example.com.
“It became obvious to us that the next frontier for faster machine design wasn’t better design tools or higher performance hardware, but rather the integration between the two. The launch of our beta program is a first step in enabling our partners to experience a novel design and build workflow that will accelerate the machine design process more than 5-fold,” says founder and CEO Etienne Lacroix. Moreover, by incorporating artificial intelligence in their platform, Vention aims to create a 3D design experience that is significantly easier and faster than with traditional tools.
Vention’s ease of use philosophy revolves around the “one-part, one-click” component insertion feature, enabling the 3D assembly of machines to mimic that of the physical world.
“With the help of artificial intelligence, we are paving the way for significant democratization of mechanical engineering. We want to enable design-savvy individuals who never used a CAD software, to 3D design industrial machines and prototypes. Similar technology democratization in web development (i.e., WordPress, Squarespace, Wix) were complete game-changers; we are creating the equivalent for machine design,” adds CTO Max Windisch.
Vention integrates part selection, 3D design, and component purchasing, eliminating the need for 2D drawings and manual bill of material management. Integration between design software and industrial hardware is the primary contributor to cycle-time improvement. The infrastructure is entirely cloud-based, enabling Vention to implement real-time collaboration features. Below is a list of features currently available on the beta version of Vention.
The company recently raised a pre-seed round led by Boston-based Bolt, a premier fund for startups at the intersection of hardware and software with significant expertise in CAD, and Canadian-based Real Ventures, Canada’s most active seed investor. In addition, this round was joined by a group of prominent angels from the computer-aided design and the robotic industries. Prominent investors include Jon Stevenson, a former executive of PTC and GrabCAD, and Rob Stevens, a former executive of GrabCAD and Amazon Robotics.
Furthermore, Vention was announced as a part of the 2016-2017 cohort of the Creative Destruction Lab of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, one of Canada’s leading accelerators for the commercialization of science-based companies.
Vention is the first machine builder platform, allowing users to design and order custom industrial equipment from a web browser in just a few days. Vention was founded in 2016 by former mechanical and software engineers from General Electric, McKinsey & Co, Microsoft, VMware, and Pivotal. The company is aiming to become a central tool within the machine design ecosystem. www.vention.io
Bolt is a venture capital firm designed to address the unique needs of early-stage startups at the intersection of hardware and software. In addition to capital, portfolio companies get support from Bolt's world-class engineering team, access to cutting-edge prototyping shops in San Francisco and Boston, and help with manufacturing. More information at www.bolt.io.
Real Ventures invests in ambitious entrepreneurs that are creating the Internet experiences of the future or are embracing the power of the Internet to disrupt existing industries or business models. Investing pre-traction, its team and networks support entrepreneurs and propel their companies forward. www.realventures.com
An interview with Max Windisch, CTO at Vention
By Cindy Liu, Creative Destruction Lab – 2016-2017
Vention is halfway between a CAD and industrial hardware company. Their platform is geared towards manufacturing engineers, enabling them to 3D design and order industrial equipment from their web browser in just a few days. For the people at Vention, the “machines that build the machines” is their niche and they intend to enter this industrial market with a business model that has an IKEA flavor combined with artificial intelligence.
As the startup is progressing through various elimination rounds of the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto, we sat down with Max Windisch, Vention’s Chief Technology Officer, to understand how Vention can create a meaningful impact on the multi-billion dollar machine design market.
Q: What is the chain of events that led you to join Vention as CTO?
A: A short answer is that André Gauthier, a highly-respected scientist and artisan of the 3D scene in Montreal (and very good friend of mine), introduced Etienne & I to one another early summer of 2016. Etienne had been developing the idea for a few months already and had left McKinsey to pursue the idea full-time. After two months of collaboration, including several client and investor meetings, I joined full-time as CTO.
That said, many other threads weave the connection between Etienne, Vention, and myself. As a child I was a Meccano™ and Lego™ enthusiast, like Etienne. My first job in the early 90's, at Famic Inc., was to create an industrial automation software; my six years at Softimage exposed me to the demands of very high-end systems targeting teams of professionals dealing with large assemblies of 2D and 3D resources; the PI/Decho period of my life introduced me to many aspects of cloud-based and large-scale systems; and my last few years, including a brief passage at GE (in the same business unit where Etienne had worked a few years earlier), reconnected me with automation in its newer, trendier form, often referred to as the "Internet of Things".
Q: How did you use your experience to navigate the CAD field and find a niche for Vention?
A: CAD has many similarities with what I had witnessed in the 3D games & movie industry, of course. Additionally, mechanical engineering and robotics are exciting for their very neat formalism, and pretty old, robust science. There are solid ties with older branches of computer science as well (constraint satisfaction problems, planning problems, etc.), and a good amount of shared interest with more current aspects of computer vision and AI (in terms of geometric reasoning, for example).
Under extremely stringent time constraints, but with a well-defined goal to only focus on assemblies, we quickly discovered an interesting path we could navigate that seemed to have been relatively unexplored to date. There was room to develop "reasoning" at a higher level (above all that powerful geometric groundwork). For example, I noticed that an assembly containing wheels could hardly be searched for its ability to roll. When inserting parts, the most common joints were not always presented efficiently to the user. Another example is the part-whole structure of assemblies, often relying on file names and brittle file-system dependencies. From my experience, I knew that the 3D game and movie industry had developed better solutions, out of necessity, to rebuild complex wholes from multiple parts (in that industry, it's common for large teams of specialised artists to bring together enormous amounts of heterogeneous resources such as animations, characters, rigs, textures, shading etc., to produce each clip). I wanted our "3D design tool" to develop a similar mindset with respect to collaboration. With Vention, we wanted to bring classification and search to assist machine design. In the future, additional enhancements may leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Q: What can you share about the features of your upcoming web-based CAD?
A: First, I would prefer not calling it a CAD. Decades of hard work of too many people have gone into CAD to pretend that we could recreate a comparable system in such a small amount of time. Our offering is very pragmatic and focused. It's based on the notion of a curated library of parts. The "CAD" we add to this mix is only concerned with assembling parts from the library (which have previously been modelled by us behind the scenes, using full-fledged CAD like Onshape).
By offering our "3D assembler" freely, we hope to make mechanical design accessible to larger audiences, that may not have otherwise engaged in that process as much. For that reason, we feel obliged to offer a very simple, uncluttered, self-explanatory user interface.
The features we have emphasised are mostly around ease of use and speed of assembly. In most modern CADs, various smart connector offerings still require quite a bit of preparation, camera tweaking, and several feature selections. We like to present our goal as: "insert one-part in one-click". Of course, this is not always strictly possible, but with the help of AI-based ranking strategies, we're getting pretty close, and it's quite exciting.
More generally, since we control the part library, our idea is to complement it with the best online catalogue out there, crammed with useful meta-data and knowledge about the parts themselves, their characteristics, usefulness, interconnections with other parts, visualisations etc. An ordinary person, even a child, should be able to learn quite a bit about the craftsmanship of mechanical engineering, just by practising on our site. We don't want to limit the intelligence of our platform to only parts. That's why we also invest in the classification of mechanical assemblies. When you build a frame on four wheels, our system will classify it along with other similar mobile assemblies. Just like the founders of the Web envisioned a day where machines could talk to one another and interpret arbitrarily complex information (I'm thinking about RDF and the "semantic web", but also of web services, REST-ful services, collaborative systems such as Github, or the excellent Stackoverflow), we are thinking of a day not too far in the future where designers will have all the required resources at their fingertips, to reason about their mechanical designs, test them, find appropriate resources, share them or retrieve other similar designs, and enjoy that whole creative process with as little interference as possible, like children sitting in front of their set of Meccano™.
Q: What are the implications of Vention's technology on machine design?
A: We like to think that Vention will help further democratise mechanical design. Let me attempt an analogy with software. When I was a kid, it was not uncommon to work with "assembler" or "machine" language, that is, to talk to the machine directly in terms of its hardware architecture of registers, i/o, and instruction opcodes. This was not hard, and sometimes very efficient but somewhat inflexible, and it implied repeated work. In the 90's, a large proportion of serious software development was in C/C++, which was more synthetic and quite generic, yet somewhat unnecessarily cumbersome and error-prone. In the 2000s, that work started to shift toward higher-level languages. This was partly thanks to accumulated hardware and software advances that had finally rendered those solutions fast enough. It also became easier to offload work to a sizeable centralised cloud infrastructure. Today, it has come to a point where those high-level languages can take care of a huge proportion of serious software projects, leaving only very specialised portions to the older, more powerful, but more tedious approaches.
We think the same should be true of machine design. A child can produce simple mechanisms with Lego™, Meccano™, Knex™, and the like. In terms of control and automation, the theory has become widely available. It also became extremely easy to connect sensors and actuators and interact with the environment, using all sorts of cheap and convenient platforms such as Arduino. Just by making the right editorial choices, offering the right catalogue of parts, and the right tools to put together and share virtual and physical machines, we hope Vention will help bring machine design on a path comparable with the progression seen in software. This may be accomplished by revisiting the separation of roles, investing in better user experience, and combining advances from other fields such as search and AI. We hope Vention will help pave the way for more progress in that direction.
Max Windisch was interviewed on December 30, from Vention's headquarters in Montreal
December 1st, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Mid November, Vention was part of a select group of 23 startups that were awarded the Fondation Montreal Inc grant. “This award reflects the quality of the team we assembled as well as the mission we are pursuing,” said Etienne Lacroix when receiving the award. See here for details.
November 11th, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The magazine of “Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec” (i.e., Quebec Engineers Association) recently interviewed Vention’s founder and CEO to know more about his background, vision and motivations. Click here to read the full article.
Max Windisch , Co-founder & CTO
October 31st, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Earlier today we launched the beta site for vention.io, enabling engineers and designers alike to develop and manufacture custom industrial equipment 5X faster.
Vention's users are now one step closer from being able to design, order and assemble industrial equipment in a single hardware and software environment, significantly shrinking time to market for those equipment. Vention 1st release enables users to:
This 1st release was an integral part of our master plan to create the World's Hardware Platform for custom industrial equipment, ranging from motionless to fully-automated machines and prototypes. Our team is already working on our 2nd release scheduled for Q1 2017. This next version will bring a stunning amount of new features, such as:
Thanks to the entire team who made this 1st release possible:
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback and visit vention.io for more information
Etienne Lacroix , Founder & CEO
For more information, please contact Vention at
4030 Rue St-Ambroise, Suite 154,
Montreal, (QC), Canada, H4C 2C7