Cincinnati 3D Modeling Pioneer Physna Raises $20 Million in Venture Capital Investment
How the company’s Series B funding round will take its innovative 3D tech to new heights
One of Ohio’s rapidly growing tech innovators took another major step forward today with the announcement that Physna raised $20 million in Series B funding. Investment in the Cincinnati-headquartered geometric deep-learning startup was led by Sequoia Capital and Midwest-centric VC firm Drive Capital. With major new funding, the company is looking toward rapid expansion, a major hiring push and an exciting future.
“I’m very picky about what investors we take on, and I spoke with a lot of VCs before we chose who to go with,” said CEO and founder Paul Powers. “What mattered to me is that they had experience building companies with massive potential to change how industries work. It seems like they can see the big picture, not just the short-term opportunity, and that they have the patience to see that through. This funding allows us to accelerate our growth. Now, our priorities are to add to the team and accelerate product velocity and widespread adoption. We’re going to see quite a lot of expansion.”
Founded in 2016, Physna is based on the idea that computers can be taught to think in three dimensions rather than in their typical binary fashion. Using complex mathematical analysis and deep learning tech, Physna allows software to understand 3D models. The tech can be used by anyone from engineers to designers and field workers. The company also powers a search engine called Thangs.com, which functions like Google for 3D models.
“At its core, Physna is a fundamentally new type of technology; it’s short for physical DNA,” said Powers. “What we do is take three-dimensional physical data from the world around us and interpret in a mathematical way that represents everything about that physical object and turn it into a codification of that object. We bridge the gap between the physical and the digital. Technology is going to become more immersive; we’re not always going to be relying on rectangular phones. For that to happen, software needs to understand the physical world better, which is a problem because our technology is based on binary. We help engineers create products faster and manufacture easier.”
Physna’s innovative solutions to that problem are a major part of what draws the attention of investors. After a $6.9 million Series A funding round in 2019, the new injection of $20 million showcases just how attractive the company is and the potential impact of what they’re creating from the bottom up.
“Paul and the Physna team have developed a breakthrough platform that enables intuitive search of 3D models for the first time,” said Sequoia partner Shaun Maguire in a release. “With the amount of 3D data in the world about to explode, Physna will be the way this data is organized and accessed—ultimately, becoming the GitHub for 3D models.”
As is often the case, a major industry innovator is growing from Ohio roots. Physna is headquartered in Cincinnati and Powers said the company operates about 50-50 between the Queen City and Columbus. He said for a company with such high aspirations, Ohio has been the ideal place to establish Physna’s identity and connect with the rest of the country.
“Ohio is a fantastic place to start a business,” he said. “If you could clone the entire Physna team and our assets and you put one in Ohio and one in California and they had to compete against each other, I would put my money on the Ohio team for a number of reasons. First of all, investment gets you much further here. Secondly, Ohio has lots of great universities and access to talent. We’re kind of the center of gravity for the country. Within one day’s drive, you can reach the majority of the U.S. economy and population. I can visit multiple Fortune 500 companies in person on the same day, reach more customers directly and have more in common with them.”
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