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A few thoughts about SPREAD’s recent $16 million Series A round

How we got to this point in our journey to become the source of truth for complex physical products

min read
Philipp Noll (me, left) and Robert Göbel (right)

Two years ago, an engineer at a huge automotive organization told me:

“I often feel like a handyman without a hammer.”

I answered:

“I think you are more like an artist without a brush. Because you manage to build creative solutions and amazing products that millions of people love.”

Before founding SPREAD, my then-colleague, now-co-founder, Robert and I realized that engineers across large manufacturing organizations spend 70% of their time manually searching for product information.

Think about a machine, like a car or an airplane.

They consist of tens of thousands of mechanical parts, and making them work together is a super complex task.

For manufacturers of such mechatronic products, the complexity was mainly driven by the mechanical dimension. Managing this complexity used to be relatively simple — just add more engineering power when needed. Today, however, machines are more connected and perform more and more functions through software and electronic components with trillions of variants, so they’re getting way too complex for this approach to be sustainable.

Yet they work — that’s impressive.

Electronic- and software complexity is growing so quickly that the tools used by engineers today — PLM systems, AML, PDM, etc — are not able to capture the complexity of the system as a whole. In fact, manufacturers are spending billions to prevent delayed product launches, failures, material waste, and recalls.

The fragmented tool landscape engineers have at their disposal causes essential information to be siloed, buried, or difficult to access. That’s what makes it even more impressive: engineers, with their know-how, manage to get those increasingly complex products to work.

So, we had an idea.

We set out to create a tool that understands the product automatically and enables, through this knowledge, engineers and workers to solve their challenges much faster than ever before. So, they don’t have to spend all their time searching for data and translating it into usable information, and they can focus on solving bigger engineering challenges.

That’s why SPREAD was born, with the purpose to spread engineering intelligence.

We made it our mission to make product information easily accessible and actionable for everyone.

Our goal in building the Engineering Intelligence Network — a knowledge graph that connects, transforms, and standardizes all sources of product data — is to help the thousands of engineers working on a product quickly and intuitively get the knowledge they need.

SPREAD’s technology gives a holistic picture of how a product functions as a whole and understands the interplay of the mechanics, electronics, and software domains.

We developed use cases designed to tackle various domain-specific engineering challenges from development, to manufacturing, and maintenance.

  • In one real-life example from R&D, our analysis identified that engineers could reduce the weight of the vehicle’s wiring harness by 1 kg without affecting safety or functionality.
  • Another one helps to manage various software configurations and brings transparency into the software engineering organization to reduce the rework of software engineers by 40%.
  • In Production, we managed to reduce the time that workers need to find and locate E/E and software errors by 75%, resulting in €1 million in savings per production line per year.
  • In Aftersales, clients managed to increase their revenue from spare part sales by 30% thanks to our technology.

Now, back to today.

SPREAD is trusted by giants in automotive, machinery, and aerospace & defense. Within three years, our client portfolio already includes all German automakers, and we’re expanding to more players in more markets.

And our efforts are paying off.

At the beginning of May, we achieved a huge milestone. We closed a $16 million Series A round led by HV Capital. Also involved were our early investors Cavalry Ventures and angel investors such as Dylan Field, the founders of logistics unicorn Sennder, and Walter Kortschak.

We are grateful to have won the trust of our new partners and are even more excited about their support with the impressive and unique wealth of experience they bring:

  • Felix is Partner at HV Capital and before that, he founded Skive, a digital learning platform trusted by more than 250,000 students across Europe.
  • Dylan founded Figma with the aim of democratizing design and ensuring its accessibility for all, leading the company to the largest ever B2B SaaS acquisition. Figma’s mission is well-aligned with our own: SPREAD democratizes engineering intelligence to make the highly specialized engineering field accessible to everyone.
  • Just like us, Walter Kortschak is an engineer at heart. And he is also a venture capitalist: he founded Summit Partner and has 36 years of experience by investing in more than 70 companies. He also lectured entrepreneurship at the Stanford GSB, where he taught the HBS case study on McAfee. AND (most importantly) owns the Jurassic Park farm!
  • Julius Koehler, Nicolaus Schefenacker and David Nothacker, who founded the German logistics unicorn sennder. The company makes spot shipping easy and connects Europe by moving cargo in a very distributed market. It is the biggest player and the leading digital European freight forwarder.

The funding will help us develop SPREAD’s capabilities and expand our successes to other industries and to new markets.

And this is just the beginning.

But we would not have made it to where we are today without everyone who has supported us in this journey:

  • Our customers & users around the globe, for their trust and commitment in our partnership.
  • Our wonderful SPREADsters, our internal heroes

I’m excited to take the next steps on the journey ahead!

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