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With $5.3 million in fresh funding, 3D visualization startup Lagoa builds Boston office

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 10, 2013 12:00 PM

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A Montreal startup is firmly planting a foot in Boston's 3D design and printing cluster. And the company, Lagoa, has just banked $5.3 million in new funding, much of it from Cambridge-based Atlas Venture.

Lagoa isn't focused on designing 3D objects from scratch— there's lots of software that enables that, from suppliers like Autodesk and PTC. Rather, the startup wants to make sharing and skinning easier. What does that mean, exactly? Lagoa's cloud-based software makes 3D objects accessible to non-engineers at a company, using just a web browser, and it can put a wide range of skins or surfaces onto rough 3D models, making them look much more like a finished product. (Like the car above.)

Lagoa's aim is to "speed up the process of collaboration by connecting people," says co-founder and CEO Thiago Costa. "You can have people working on a product in Boston, Germany, and Brazil, and everyone is seeing the same thing in real-time in their browser. They can look at it with any surface, and talk about what needs to change."

Costa says that Lagoa can import 3D objects made with a wide range of software programs — it supports more than 50 different file formats. But the company's "special sauce" is its MultiOptics rendering technology, which layers photo-realistic surfaces like canvas, fur, or stainless steel onto those objects. Costa says the images are good enough to be used in a catalog, or on an e-commerce website for ordering — even before the first physical product sample has been produced.

This latest funding round, which also includes Siemens and Real Ventures, brings the total that Lagoa has raised to about $7 million. The company's tech development will remain in Montreal, but sales and marketing operations will be based in Lagoa's new Boston office, led by Chris Williams, a veteran of both PTC and Dassault Systemes, two big local makers of 3D design software. Costa says there are about a half-dozen employees so far in Boston — and that he plans to join them in 2014, moving here from Montreal.

Costa says Lagoa will also use the new funding to continue improving the software. One forthcoming feature: being able to create videos of an object, spinning it around or flying a virtual camera around and through it.

In addition to Lagoa, other local companies focused on the next wave of 3D object design include GrabCAD, Matter.io, and Belmont Technologies — all of which I've covered here in the past.

A video demo from Lagoa is below:

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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