When I left my position as CFO of Harvard University to join a startup (more on that in a future blog post), I was extremely motivated by the opportunity to help achieve something that’s never been done before.

 Onshape is aiming to fundamentally change the way engineers and designers work. For the first time, design teams spread across the room or across the world can collaborate on the same CAD model at the same time.

I’m also proud to be part of a culture that aims in every interaction to treat people -- customers, employees, vendors, partners --  the way we’d all like to be treated.

Onshape is not only building a new CAD system from scratch. Our founders want to redefine how CAD users interact with their CAD company. Yet, we can’t be successful in any of this without your trust. 

Trust does not simply happen; it is earned. How do we plan to earn your trust? By establishing a “social contract” with you. Our Statement of Principles reflects our core values, publicly declaring how we define our responsibilities to you.

In all your dealings with Onshape, these are the principles that will guide our thinking and decisions, on matters large and small:


    1. We Will Deliver Unsurpassed CAD Excellence -- We approach each day with a unique intensity – and a near-maniacal focus, determination and persistence. These are the qualities we are seeking in everyone we hire at Onshape, and the qualities we hope you will experience every time you engage with any of us. To fully harness the power of web/cloud/mobile, we’ve attracted some of the best talent inside and outside the CAD industry. And we have unleashed their creativity to not simply meet your needs, but to surpass them.

    2. Your Problems Are Our Problems -- At Onshape, we unabashedly subscribe to a “Customers First” mentality. We know that delivering on customers’ needs and wants should influence everything we do, and ultimately will benefit all of Onshape’s various stakeholders. When you submit a problem or an idea to improve Onshape, you will receive updates as issues are addressed and you can check their status anytime. In this respect, and more broadly, we want you to feel like an important member of our team. Because you are.

    3. We Won’t Operate in the Fine Print -- You should be able to find everything you need to know about Onshape, in plain language, on our website. You can find exact pricing information without first making an appointment with a salesperson. All of Onshape’s technical documentation, user agreements and business policies are fully searchable and online. And if all else fails, give us a shout and we will happily connect you with a real live human!

    4. Our Customers Should Never Feel Trapped -- We want you to stick with us for the right reasons. Unless you delete your own IP from Onshape, we will make it easily usable on other platforms (via export functionality), and we will maintain it indefinitely – regardless of whether you are a free or paying user. If we have to use leverage and coerce you to be our customer, then we’re doing something wrong. You should WANT to use Onshape because it helps you make your business better.

    5. We Acknowledge That We’re Human -- We have no interest in winning your trust under false pretenses, by claiming to guarantee perfection. Inevitably, mistakes will happen and unforeseen events occasionally will materialize -- such is the nature of transformative change. When mistakes and circumstances compromise your ability to use Onshape, we pledge to identify and implement a lasting solution as quickly as possible. And we will learn and adapt so that we don’t repeat our mistakes.

    6. Everything We Do is Transparent -- We believe in being clear and deliberate in everything we do. And we also welcome full, frank and open discussions. This is reflected in our blog and in our Onshape Forums. We are a better company when we understand the candid interests of our customers and the broader CAD community at large. So if something is on your mind, please don’t hesitate to speak up. Don’t worry about hurting our feelings -- we have thick skin around here!

    7. Your Privacy is Paramount -- Your intellectual property is your lifeblood, and we consider our responsibility to protect it as a sacred trust. We encrypt all of your stored data and network traffic between you and our servers -- and all data shared between our own servers. Onshape also pays two external security testing services in addition to our own internal security experts to validate our security measures. Furthermore, we are constantly exploring new ways to enhance our protection of your IP -- complacency is not an option.

    8. We Promise Not to Take Ourselves Too Seriously -- There is no shortage of stress involved in implementing truly novel approaches to adapting cloud, web and mobile technologies to CAD. And more broadly, rapid advances in technology are enabling (if not requiring) most businesses to move at a greatly accelerated pace. At Onshape, having a high-energy workplace where people aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves creates a more relaxed, focused and productive environment -- even when the tires are squealing loudly! Hopefully, you will benefit from this by experiencing us not only as highly competent problem solvers, but also as grounded, enjoyable people that reduce your stress rather than add to it.

    9. We Want to Make CAD Fun Again -- Our founder, Jon Hirschtick, often talks about remembering the lost “fun” element of CAD. What does he mean? Engineers and designers should be spending their time focused on all the cool things they create. Instead, way too much time is now being spent on the hassles of checking out files, keeping track of multiple versions and dealing with restrictive software licenses. We’re aiming to get rid of those hassles. We want you to focus on your products, not our software.

Many companies write their own mission statements, core values or a Statement of Principles. No matter what you choose to call it, having one doesn’t mean much until it gets tested.

If you have an experience that you feel contradicts any of our core principles, we hope that you will call us out on it. (Please also feel free to share examples when one of our principles has been strongly demonstrated!)

Give us an opportunity to prove that we either stand behind these declarations or not. That’s how something like this becomes a living thing -- when one’s actions are matched up against one’s words.

I’m confident that Onshape will live up to our expectations and yours, but I also recognize we may have left something out. And consistent with our desire that you feel like a valued member of our team, we’d welcome any feedback you may have for us.

So, how do you want your CAD company to interact with you? What standards/expectations do you have for a CAD company? Drop me a line at dshore[at]onshape.com and let’s continue the conversation!