Interview with Chris Randles and Blake Courter – Part 3

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Deelip: I have also noticed a marked shift in the way you are branding your company. For example, take your press releases. Earlier the “About SpaceClaim” section mostly comprised of the names of the people behind the company. And it looked like that was what you were trying to sell. But now I see that the names of the founders and their lineage have been replaced by the names of your customers. Is that some kind of a reality check that you as a company went through? I mean, names of founders don’t sell a product. But probably names of customers stand a better chance.

Chris: Yes, that is a very good observation. It’s not like we are hiding the names of the founders. We are still quite pround of our pedigree because its good to have people on board who have been through it, done it and have good track record. When you are an infant company, your pedigree is everything. But I think we have gone from lineage to cool product. As a company, we really haven’t changed ever since I took over a year and a half ago. But we certainly have got better at how we articulate the benefit of our product. We have thousands of users now. We have sold thousands and thousands of seats of SpaceClaim.

Deelip: Thousands and thousands or thousands of thousands?

Chris: (Laughs) Many thousands. Not many tens of thousands. So you are absolutely right. We are saying, “You remember that baby with the good parents? That baby has now become a pretty smart school kid.”

Deelip: Earlier when you came to market you were trying to sell to people like marketing executives who could go around pushing and pulling geometry and use SpaceClaim as a sales tool. But now I see that you are targeting engineers. You have even called your product SpaceClaim Engineer.

Blake: Actually, I was talking to a customer on Tuesday, a tier 2 supplier. They use SpaceClaim to read in parts designed in Pro/ENGINEER, use a GoToMeeting to actually push pull geometry right in front of their prospect and send them back the geometry to plug it back into Pro/ENGINEER. They used to win bids about 50% of the time. Now with SpaceClaim they are winning bids 80% of the time. Do you know how that transforms someone’s business? That’s what we are doing with SpaceClaim. Sales engineers using a 3D tool to work with customers before bidding on a project is actually a very good market for us.

Chris: This goes back to our objective. You see, we are not trying to replace existing CAD seats. But the reality today is there are only between 900,000 to a million CAD seats under maintenance around the world. I mean PTC have been pretty much stable at around 133,000 seats of Pro/ENGINEER under maintenance. There are 10 to 15 million engineers involved in manufacturing. We have data that shows that there are 3 to 5 engineers around every CAD seat who need to interact with that geometry in some way or the other. So for us there is a huge opportunity. There is a market that is 3 to 5 times the size of today’s install base of 3D. And the barrier between that core of people doing detailed design and the wider market of people who would like to or need to use 3D is the sophistication, the cost, the complexity and in some cases the lack of flexibility of today’s 3D CAD systems. That’s not to say that Pro/E or NX or CATIA are not good for their task. They are very good at stuff like generating families of parts. But for a whole range of applications, whether it be prototyping, analysis, simulation driven design, there is nothing really out there. And I think what we have created something that is really easy to use, very affordable and very capable.

I think the industry has actually recognized that there is this other market because we now compete more with products that have been positioned into that space. Like CoCreate, which ten years ago, would have been seen as a CAD system, but is now presented as something competitive. Or Synchronous Technology which is in the same space, although it is constraint based and comes with a CAD system. Or the Fusion-to-be. We will see how that turns out.

Actually all this is a good thing. It is a validation that there is an opportunity. But I think we have the best product. I think we have the right strategy by having a best in breed standalone modeler. And I think we have a year or two year’s lead on anyone in that space.

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