Interview with Chris Randles and Blake Courter – Part 2

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Deelip: When SpaceClaim was brought to market, it didn’t have a full blown API. In fact, as a SpaceClaim Solution Partner, I was involved in helping SpaceClaim figure out the API. You used to ask your partners what API’s they needed and then proceed to implement them in the next service pack. I found that concept quite frustrating because as I developed a SpaceClaim add-in and I found that the API didn’t have something that I wanted, I had to wait till it was added by you which could be anywhere between a few days, a few weeks or a few months. Till that happenned I had to stop my development and find something else to do. When my API requirement was finally added to the API, I resumed development and then found something else that was missing in the API and the whole process would stop once again. The excuse given at that time was that you did not want to spend resources developing the API and would rather spend it on developing the core product. I found that to be a rather strange way of working with partners.

Chris: Well, I think that’s fair feedback. On the one hand, a new product needs to mature in all respects, including its API, in order to be useful to a third party developer. Often you partner with people who are willing to be partners with you on the trail and work it out. So I think there is a balance between coming to market with something which is full and complete and… actually I think you should never go to market with something that is half baked. And here I am talking about the API and not the product itself. So regarding the API I think it should have been a more concerted effort at that time. But it has been subsequently. And I think now we are at a point wherein we have a very good and robust API, although we are still adding new capabilities. But some of those reflect the new functionality that we are putting into the product itself.

But if I could go back to my earlier point, I think SpaceClaim the toddler in 2007 was too young to be sent to school (laughs). In 2008 that product became really useful and really focussed. In 2009 we saw a significant number of people really deploy the software and going into production. And that is evident when you see the percentage change in revenue.

I make no apologies. We were a startup company. We foraged in the forest for our food and looked every place we could, obviously with a strategy and a focus. But then we were very happy if a customer was deploying maybe 10 floating seats serving 20 users. That was a big deal. But now we are looking at opportunities which are orders of magnitude more than that.

Deelip: I found your comment about the toddler being sent to school too early quite interesing. I happen to have a opinion on that. It was not so much as the product not being ready, but rather more about the way it was brought to market. In my opinion you came out doing just about everything wrong. There was no trial. You could not purcahse a permanent license. You had to rent out the software. Basically, you were asking people to spend $5000 by looking at a canned demo on your web site.

Chris: Well, a lot has changed since then.

Deelip: Exactly. So how much importance would you give to that being the toddler part of things.

Chris: Well, I am old enough to have seen a lot of companies come and go and many not succeed. Only in the 80’s could you build a great product and it would sell itself. By the 90’s execution became everything. In the naughties (laughs), I mean the early part of this century, at least half the success of a company depends upon how it goes to market.

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