SpaceClaim 2010 And Bid Modeling

Yesterday evening, I spent an hour with Blake Courter, one of the co-founders of SpaceClaim. It was supposed to be a pre-briefing on their upcoming release of SpaceClaim 2010, but the conversation centered mostly around SpaceClaim the company. Blake showed me some of the new stuff in SpaceClaim 2010 but instead of listing them here I will simply point you to a concise review by Al Dean at the DEVELOP3D blog.

Apart from the stuff listed by Al, Blake also showed me a couple of major enhancements to the SpaceClaim API which developers like me will definitely find interesting. Just like how developers can create custom objects in AutoCAD, we can now create custom objects in SpaceClaim as well. These custom objects will reside in a SpaceClaim document and act like native objects. Not only that, developers will now be able to create custom tools as well. I mean I will now be able to write an add-in that adds a new tool to SpaceClaim which works just like the Pull tool but twists the geometry as I pull it. Such a tool may not be very useful but I think you get my point.

Here is a screen shot I took of SpaceClaim 2010 running on Blake’s computer. You can ignore the last six or seven ribbon tabs. That’s just  Blake fooling around writing add-ins using the SpaceClaim API. One of the tabs is called CADville. If you were reading this blog on April Fool’s day you may remember what that stands for. I am told that nothing Blake codes finds it way into the product. I am not sure whether that is a good or a bad thing. I guess one way to find out would be if Blake could write a SpaceClaim add-in that adds the Pull & Twist tool I mentioned above. 😉

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Anyways, I would like to talk a little more about SpaceClaim the company. According to Blake, SpaceClaim has stopped behaving like a startup company. I am not exactly sure what that means. But he mentioned that they are now closing deals worth million of dollars. He mentioned a deal worth 3500 licenses but refused to let me go public with the name of the customer.

Saying that SpaceClaim has had a rocky start is probably putting it too mildly. They started out by doing every possible thing the wrong way. I wrote about that part of the company’s life extensively on this blog years ago. Here I am referring to the company’s business model, not its product which I believe is simply outstanding.

As it stands, today the company has coined a term called “Bid Modeling” which Blake admits was not part of the original plan. Bid Modeling is basically what a sales engineer does to get business for his company. For example, he may need to quickly mock up a part or an assembly to show a prospective client or do a quick analysis on the customers geometry to verify it before he can place his bid. Bid Modeling could also involve creating stunning photorealistic renderings to better illustrate the deliverables.

Blake tells me that he noticed his customers use SpaceClaim for this kind of work but never thought too much of it. But he stopped to think when he saw customer after customer starting using SpaceClaim for what he now calls Bid Modeling. He says, “Bid Modeling has really started to take off now.” He was quick to add, “This is not really a departure from our initial product strategy. Rather it is a refinement of the strategy.

Blake claims that SpaceClaim has begun to serve some really unique markets. He says, “CAD as an engineering tool is interesting. But that is what the other CAD vendors are all doing. We have found a sweet spot with CAD as a sales tool to win more business. For a while I refused to accept Bid Modeling as a something different. I thought that it was part of Concept Modeling, which was something that we started out doing. But now its quite clear from what our customers are doing that Bid Modeling is something that we really need to pay close attention to, which is precisely what we are doing.

And speaking of customers, here are a few of the big names. I guess SpaceClaim’s competitors will be more interested in knowing which names are not there on this list as opposed to the ones that are.

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And for those who decided to skip reading Al’s post, here is a slide showing in a nutshell what’s new in SpaceClaim 2010.

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  • Rick

    Wow, some company has 3500 sales engineers who need bid modeling.

  • Jim Nance

    What a crock of … Seriously, does Blake Courter really believe this crap he says? Bid Modeling? What next? Sell Modeling? Yes, thats it.

    SpaceClaim just found out that there is a market out there of tens of thousands of engineers who need a very easy-to-use tool at a very low cost who want to create very simply models to ‘sell’ their product idea to their management so they can get their projects funded. If you ask ‘how is this different from bid modeling?’ then you obviously don’t know anything about how engineers work. In the mean time, the established CAD vendors are going “How did we not think of this?”

    Are their VCs reading this blog? If not, someone should alert them to the brilliant idea that Blake just revealed here to pull SpaceClaim from the deathgrip they are in now to escape velocity.

  • Deelip,
    I have used SpaceClaim and do agree that one can come up with a mock-up prototype/model in real fast time. Winning a bid is one thing and living upto it is another.

    Lets see how SpaceClaim does it.

  • Anssi Mustonen

    Who said that models are and has to be very simply?

  • Hey Jim,

    I was pretty surprised too. It's one of those things that I kept hearing about but didn't really understand. Engineers are using SpaceClaim in pre-sales situations. At first, I didn't think it was anything new, because the use case is about the same as the usual concept modeling.

    What changed my mind was what one customer told me that before SpaceClaim his company used to win bids about 50% of the time. With SpaceClaim they win bids 80% of the time.* That’s game-changing.

    Since then, I’ve talked to many customers using SpaceClaim pre-sales. Sometimes they bought SpaceClaim just for that purpose; sometimes SpaceClaim creeped into the sales process because engineers who got involved in sales situations are using it. With strong empirical, we realized that our value proposition to engineers working in a sales or business development organization was different from our story for those in the engineering organization. It’s my job to help engineers understand what SpaceClaim can do for them, and there was a very compelling story in sales. So now I’m telling the world what we’ve learned.

    Although Deelip mostly mentioned bid modeling, I should point out that I don’t expect it is only part of our overall market. Concept modeling, CAE, and general-purpose engineering outside of the core CAD group are still our biggest markets. I think what’s happened is that SpaceClaim has made it possible to use 3D the way most folks use Word or Excel, where anyone in the organization can create documents and email them around. It’s only natural that eventually we would get there with 3D, and it’s fun to watch all the different places 3D can go. I think that’s why we’re seeing such large installations of SpaceClaim. (For the record, the company Deelip mentioned is floating licenses to 3500 engineers, they did not initially purchase 3500 licenses.)

    So don’t fret, we’re still focused on engineering organizations. Only now we have users who also report to a VP of sales. I think that’s pretty cool.

    What type of design work do you do, Jim?


    *The full story is here:

  • Talalevan

    spaceclaim forever!!!! I love it