What Made Ivy League Investors Fund This Cambridge-Based Startup

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Not every day one comes across a co-founder in India whose company is backed by Andreessen Horowitz. The California-based billion dollar venture capital’s portfolio includes BuzzFeed, Airbnb, Groupon and Facebook to name a few.  John McEleney, CEO of Cambridge-based Onshape, which is also backed by the Andreessen Horowitz, spoke about what it takes to get the right investor on board.


New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Commonwealth Capital Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners are some of the other firms that have invested in Onshape, which focuses on cloud and mobile CAD.

Talking about why VC firms placed their bets on Onshape, John said that the most important aspect was the market opportunity. “You can have the best product ever, but if nobody buys it then it doesn’t matter. We are going after an $8 billion- $9 billion market,” he said. Adding to this, John said that investors would also look at how the company is currently functioning and what is that they are trying to do which is transformational. “Because if it’s transformational, there will be a lot of value in there,” he added.

Onshape was jointly built by Jon Hirschtick, founder of SolidWorks Corp, John and some of the original members of the SolidWorks team. John believes that the third factor that helped them fetch investors’ confidence was its “team.” “People see the big market, the team that built SolidWorks and they see our technology or platform shift to cloud-web mobile and you can draw your own conclusion on what we are trying to do,” John added.

A VC’s no is never really a no

According to John a “no” from a VC is never really a no. They are most of the time asking for more data and iterations around the topic. John said he would personally never go beyond one iteration to convince the investor.