3D/CAD incumbents and the community's big role in changing the AEC design stack

November 13, 2023

018 | Snaptrude's $14M Series-A | How new technologies unlock big challengers to the 3D/CAD incumbents | Why the community plays a big role in changing the AEC design stack

This week:

Snaptrude's $14M raise for 3D AEC design
New technologies are enabling next-gen platforms
Why the time for challenging legacy 3D/CAD incumbents has never been better
Leveraging community, open source and multiplayer unlocks new distribution forms
Software spend per 3D user will double in the next years

Snaptrude Becomes Leader in Collaborative 3D for AEC Design

Snaptrude, a construction tech startup, recently raises a $14 million Series A round led by Accel and Foundamental to build a "Figma for 3D AEC design". Snaptrude's browser-based platform allows architects, engineers, and construction professionals to collaboratively design 3D models in real-time. The company aims to disrupt the traditional AEC software market by bringing a modern, multiplayer approach to 3D design, moving away from legacy desktop tools.

Legacy Players Face User Frustration in Construction Tech

Many incumbents in the construction tech software market rely on legacy desktop tools and closed-off systems. As Shubhankar Bhattacharya describes, these tools can seem to rely on "outdated technology stacks, little interoperability, and poor user experience compared to modern SaaS products." Patric Hellermann adds that "files are often big blobs, 500 megabytes plus, very difficult to query, no interoperability." When you read the internet and talk to customers, you find they feel locked-in to vendors, and report widespread frustrations with usability and functionality. The construction tech stack's complex data and files make switching costs high. But this presents a big opportunity for new startups to retool the stack with cloud, APIs, multiplayer, and better design.

New Tech Enables Next-Gen 3D Design Platforms

A range of new technologies including cloud computing, multiplayer collaboration, APIs, and AI are making it possible to build next-generation construction tech platforms, as Patric highlights: "So cloud, not that new, but actually new to a lot of the incumbent software. Very proven, but new here. Browser-based, that's another one. Concurrency, or optimized for concurrency, I should say. There is definitely multiplayer aspects here, which is also a result of that concurrency, easier APIs, easier querying of highly complex data and file blobs, and then AI integrations." These can create products that are more usable, powerful, and tailored to modern digital workflows.

Community and Open Source Drive Tech Distribution of the Future

As Patric notes, "to address them, that's a community motion. It is a community, 3D and CAD design, as well as the founders around that. And so all our founders that they're working with each other and exchanging playbooks and they're on a shared mission." Startups looking to compete against established vendors can leverage community engagement and open source to gain traction. Incumbents have historically relied on top-down sales and closed platforms - startups have an opportunity to disrupt through grassroots community outreach.

Software Spend Per User to Double in Architecture and Construction

While design and engineering firms are facing workforce shrinkage, their revenue requirements remain steady. This results in a need to enable more automation and productivity per employee, powered by software. As Patric explains, "the workforce is shrinking. And if you're a 1000 FTE design firm, engineering firm, the truth of the matter is in 10 years from now at the very latest, more likely in five years from now, you're only 900 FTE, because you're not finding these people." Construction tech vendors estimate that the total software spend per user will double in AEC as firms support more revenue with fewer staff.

Find more analysis on the Practical Nerds podcast




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Keywords: construction tech, AEC software, SaaS, 3D modeling, BIM, CAD, cloud computing, collaboration, multiplayer, APIs, AI, automation, workforce, engineering design, architectural design, Snaptrude, Foundamental, Accel, Figma, startups, technology, software spend, open source, community building