A Conversation With Shyamal Roy – Part 2

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Deelip: How do you know that your solution is the right one? How many people are using it?

Shyamal: Our solution is the right one because it works, it is affordable, it enables users to do the engineering before committing to the design, and it enables users to leverage their existing expertise in CAD and Microsoft Office tools. Plus we heavily exploit the net to deliver and support the software and provide free training. Our customer base now is in the low 5 digits and includes companies in virtually all segments of the manufacturing industry. You can see a partial listing of our esteemed customers here.

Since I am privately funded, I can be patient about the velocity of our revenue.

Deelip: The free Solid Edge 2D comes with a goal seek feature, which is quite similar to your backsolving technology. Do you wish to comment on that?

Shyamal: Curiously, the Goal Seek feature in Solid Edge appeared a few months after I opened our kimono to D-cubed a few years back when there was a discussion of possible acquisition of my company. I am not insinuating anything here because they may have been working on this on their own – but the timing of the availability of the feature in Solid Edge was interesting.

By definition, a bicycle and the Boeing 747 are both transportation devices – they take people from point A to point B.  Likewise Goal Seek in Solid Edge 2D, and Goal Seek in GrafiCalc are both behavioral modeling facilities but capabilities of the products are substantially different. From what I have seen, the Goal Seek feature in Solid Edge 2D can backsolve geometry to satisfy a design goal that can be optimized against the calculated area of a shape only. Whereas GrafiCalc allows users to backsolve geometry to satisfy any measured or calculated design goal against any given shape, position, and fit criteria.

Deelip, here is an open challenge – when geometry and mathematical issues are inseparable in a design challenge, GrafiCalc will deliver the answer in less time than any known method.

Deelip: A common criticism of your product is that it employs a hopelessly outdated user interface.

Shyamal: GrafiCalc user interface is not antiquated – it is “timeless”. It allows users to do what they want to do quickly and easily. Besides if the user is familiar with any CAD sketcher and knows how to use Excel, he/she is “already trained” on how to use GrafiCalc. To me, it is not what the user interface looks like that is important; I care about how it covers the depth and domain of the application. Just like everything else I base our development activity on inputs from our lighthouse customers. And so far we are really good in this aspect.

Deelip: Also the fact that you do not offer a trial and expect people to buy your product by watching a video. What do you say to that?

Shyamal: This is not true. The user can also see 21 video training modules in our website that shows how every feature works. Besides the product price is low enough for any user to take the reasonable risk for substantial potential returns. We make painkillers and “smart” users can experience the value of our solution in our demos quickly and conveniently.

Deelip, I seek your and other esteemed industry-observers assistance to spread the news about our cure! Latest product information is available at www.inventbetter.com.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Why not offer a trial? If the product is that easy to use and that timeless it will sell from the trial. Does anybody buy any software these days without at least trialing it? Trials are vital for at least seeing how easy the software is to install and run on your existing infrastructure. How stable it is, how fast it is – all things you cannot show on a video.

  • Kevin

    Couldn't agree more – it also seems that Shyamal has a pretty high opinion of GrafiCalc..

    Let's deal with Timeless-ness. A Barcelona Chair is timeless, the Eiffel Tower is timeless. The Volkswagen Beeetle is timeless. Is Windows 3.1 timeless? No. A phrase like timeless has no place in UI design – it's madness.

    I'm also never convinced when he talks about how he cares “about how it covers the depth and domain of the application” when he won't offer a trial of the product – it's the potential user's prerogative to try the system and see if it fulfils their own specific needs – the vendor provides the tools, the user chooses if it fits their own needs – before they buy it as far as I'm concerned.

    It's NOT for the vendor to make that decision. It's a very short sighted attitude, as I've told Shyamal many many times over the years.

    It's one thing to buy before you try a little utility, but when you're talking anything over $20, that's not going to fly in today's software economy.

    Don't misunderstand me, Graficalc has some wonderful things in it, but I just wish Shyamal would bring it into the 19th century at least 😉

    Al

  • Shyamalroy

    All right guys – a trial version (we call it quickeval version) is coming. It will have all features of the software except the Save features will be disabled. It will come with tutorilas.

    Should see it in a couple of weeks.

    Price will also go up.

  • Shyamalroy

    Al first I want you to know that I respect your judgements immensely.

    My point is we have a highly functional user interface that enables user to interract with the software efficiently. It may have an older look but it is as functional as any user interface with a verb-noun-modifier syntax can be.

    I am inspired by Mercedes Benz user interface. It has not changed functionally between the 1954 170SD that my “could be father-in-law” gifted me in India in 1968 when I was engaged to a princess (she kept the ring I kept the car when we broke up) and the late model SL I drive now.

    It essentially shows the driver the speed, RPM, Fuel remaining, oil pressure, and engine temperature.

    Other car manufacturers may tell additional information such as how fast you are going, how fast you should be going, how fast you have gone and remind you about your mother-in-law's birthdate in 64 user-selectable language – to claim a modern high-tech position, but that is mostly BS as far as operating the car is concerned.

    So unless I have a user or anybody else point out where the Graficalc user interface needs change to be functionally better it is difficult for me to change it – I do not want to put cup holders in a racing car.

    True, the look and feel expands the appeal of any product but I set our priority on what the user wants to enhance the usability.

    So please understand my point – if you have any concrete suggestions I am absolutely open.

  • Kevin Quigley

    I have a few. Why not offer a full version for a period of 30 days for a small fee – say $25? Luxology do this very effectively with Modo. The $25 buys you a fully functional system, support and access to no charge videos etc. After 30 days if you buy you get the $25 discounted from the full price.

    The thing that concerns me about GrafiCalc is the output. By definition, the output is graphical – a 2D profile. The stated output format is version 14 DXF. No I know that works OK in most systems but how much better would it be, if the system was built directly into a mainstream CAD application like SolidWorks?

    I really don't want to translate geometry to my CAD system, I would rather do it in the CAD system. So either some form of copy and paste to a CAD system or some kind of plug in for that CAD system (even if it is only to transfer the profile to a sketching environment in the CAD system).

    When the trial becomes available I will try it out. It is a pity you feel the need to push the price up though. That seems, well, petty. The price is already higher in the EU anyway (why?).

  • Shyamalroy

    Kevin many thanks for your inputs.

    You will see some annoncements from us in the coming days that will be pleasing.

    I truly appreciate your inputs.

    I am pissed off with Al though – I like the 18th century – the Raj was in full form then!!!

  • HA! Don't get all British on Al. Trust me. You don’t want to go there. 😉

  • HA! Don't get all British on Al. Trust me. You don’t' want to go there. 😉

  • Real world experience on the vendor side of things will generally reveal that most “free trials” are a waste of time in the sales process. Most 30 day evals begin on day 29 if at all.

    And, when the “user” must decide whether to fess up and say he/she didn't get around to installing it — or to say something nebulous like, “well, I'm not sure it really fits my needs”… guess which one human nature dictates?

    http://lifeupfront.com/2007/10/19/can-you-affor

  • Shyamalroy

    Jeff I completely agree with you. 30-day evals DO NOT GET INSTALLED in more than 99% situations unless the software is a single purpose application. Eval versions with timeouts give the vendor a false sense of engagement based on the number of downloads.

    What we are planning to do is to provide a fully functional software with the File ops disabled (no save) with quick tutorials that enable the user to experience the software in his/her own environment. No pressures – the software does not time out. Should be available in a week.

    . It does not time out.