Today GrabCAD reached a big milestone – 500,000 members for the CAD library community. But haven’t you always wondered how the investors are going to earn a return on this free resource?

I spoke with Rob Stevens, GrabCAD’s new VP of Sales & Marketing. Rob is a Mechanical Engineer, former Mckinsey consultant, and a start-up pro with 3 successful launches under his belt. So he knows a thing or three about business models. And it turns out, GrabCAD does have one.

From its early days, GrabCAD has been founded on a vision to make collaboration easier for mechanical engineers by leveraging internet-based technologies. Their business model is to extend that vision from the free collaborative environment you know today towards a paid subscription model based on superior collaborative tools. That doesn’t mean the free stuff will go away. If anything, the free tools should get better too. And they don’t aim to replace PLM. Instead, for small to medium sized development teams they want to provide an easy way to gain the benefits of collaboration without the constraints of traditional tools.

As Rob pointed out in our chat, “If you reduce the friction of sharing files to zero you get a qualitatively different result.” Think of seamlessly sharing files with marketing teams or suppliers as a likely starting point in the collaborative toolkit. While there was nothing Rob could show me today, we look forward to the first release of their Open Engineering solution due out this spring.

 

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