Sketchfab is a website used to display and share 3D content online. The company behind it was launched in France and is today based in Paris and New York City. It provides a 3D model viewer based on the WebGL technology that allows to display 3D models on any mobile, desktop webpage or VR headset. Sketchfab took part in the Spring 2013 TechStars New York City startup accelerator program, raised $2 million in December 2013 and $7 million in June 2015.

Service

The main product of Sketchfab is a 3D model viewer. It enables viewers to move freely around or inside the 3D scene using mouse or touch manipulation. In addition to static 3D models, the viewer is able to play and control 3D animations. Finally, viewers can enable the Virtual Reality mode to make the model viewable in Virtual Reality headsets.

The 3D viewer is used on the Sketchfab website but can additionally be embedded on external websites, notably on Facebook, Twitter or Wordpress.

Sketchfab provides a community portal, where visitors can browse, rate and download public user generated 3D models. Users of Sketchfab have profile pages, premium users can customise and share their models privately (the online portfolio feature is now deprecated). Sketchfab users can choose to make their 3D model files available for download under Creative Commons licenses, this feature places the Sketchfab website as a 3D printing marketplace after a few downloadable models are compatible with 3D printing. The Sketchfab 3D model library can be browsed within Virtual Reality.

3D models can be uploaded to Sketchfab from its website or directly from various 3D software, using plugins (for example for 3ds Max or SketchUp) or natively (from Blender or Adobe Photoshop).

Technology

The Sketchfab 3D viewer is using the WebGL JavaScript API to display 3D models and is built using the open-source OSG.JS JavaScript library. This allows the display of 3D models on webpages without the need of third-party plugins if the browser supports WebGL. Rendering is achieved using classic real-time rendering or physically based rendering. On browsers that don't support the WebGL technology, the Sketchfab viewer uses a 2D fallback displaying a pre-rendered 3D model. Sketchfab supports the WebVR specification in order to provide Virtual Reality experiences on the web.

History

Sketchfab was initially created by entrepreneur and 3D developer Cédric Pinson under the domain name ShowWebGL in early 2011. He was joined in early 2012 by Alban Denoyel, and they relaunched the site under the name Sketchfab in March 2012. Pierre-Antoine Passet joined as CPO in September 2012.

Growth

Users

DateUsers (claimed)
August 201350,000
December 2013100,000
January 2016300,000
July 2016500,000

3D models

Date3D models (claimed)
April 2014100,000
November 2014200,000
May 2016750,000
January 2016500,000
July 2016900,000
September 20161,000,000

Startup accelerators

The startup was part of the third batch of the French startup accelerator Le Camping in June 2012. It was later selected into Mozilla’s WebFWD accelerator programme throughout that same year. The year after, Sketchfab was selected in the Spring 2013 TechStars class in New York City.

Fundraising

In February 2013, Sketchfab raised an angel round of 370,000 euros. Less than one year after, in December 2013, Sketchfab raised $2 million from Balderton Capital with Partech Ventures, Borealis Ventures, David Cohen and existing angel investors additionally participated in the funding. In June 2015, Sketchfab raised a $7 Million Series A led by FirstMark Capital.

Awards

  • Top 8 at Pioneers Festival 2012
  • Best “Lightweight” Startup, the Europas Awards 2013