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CAD Software and Entrepreneur

A new trend is developing in the CAD industry, led by Dassault Systems. The CAD vendor is making its Solidworks software suite freely available to startups, nonprofit organizations, and business incubators, except for a small application fee. Not far behind is Autodesk, which provides the same opportunities.

This initiative by leading CAD companies is making it much easier for startup companies and entrepreneurs to implement designs, and to manage the essential phases of product development.

To make this clearer, the CAD software offerings provide the capability to implement many of these essential phases of product design:

  • Concept Phase: The idea for a product is defined.
  • Feasibility Phase: Marketing, manufacturing and engineering studies are performed to determine whether it is feasible to proceed with product development and whether the product is marketable.
  • Development Phase: Engineering designs lead to the creation of product prototypes, and testing reveals whether the design is robust and whether the product will function reliably.
  • Production Phase: Manufacturing and tooling facilities are brought online to manufacture the product and to place it in the market place.
  • Product Support Phase: Marketing, Supplies, Distribution, and Sales departments provide support for establishing a footprint for the product in the market.

This article tries to understand how and why Dassault Systems and other leading CAD software providers are making their CAD software freely available as a development tool for the entrepreneur. Topics and questions to be addressed are:

  • What is the purpose of the incentive to provide free CAD software?
  • In what ways does the CAD software offering help the entrepreneur?
  • Are there success stories related to this entrepreneurial program?

What Is the Purpose behind the Incentive to Provide Free CAD Software?

The purpose behind the CAD software offering is to ease the process for hardware startups because many bootstrap startups do not have enough funds to develop and get their products to market.

Dassault Systems provides “free access” (except for a modest $200 application fee) to licensed versions of their software suite that is available to established engineering institutions. The use of the software in the early stages of product development saves startup companies significant amounts of design and production expenses.

The software suite enables entrepreneurs to solve product design problems, perform simulations, perform data management, and address environmental impact issues.

Autodesk allows new businesses or startups to use their software freely, without an application fee.

In What Ways Does the CAD Software Offering Help the Entrepreneur?

Because Dassault Systems, Autodesk, and other CAD companies are providing these software offerings:

  • Startup and bootstrap programs which are on austerity budgets have a better chance of bringing their product ideas to fruition.
  • The time to market is shortened because the software tools accelerate design and manufacturing cycles while saving production time and costs.

Because the software is provided without cost, it becomes easier to create the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Features that are provided by the Solidworks software suite (and also by Autodesk and similar competitors) include:

  • 3D design, which enables the entrepreneur to visualize design concepts, and to build functionality, durability and safety into designs;
  • Simulation, which provides virtualization of product designs under real-world performance conditions due to loadings and environmental conditions;
  • Incorporation of electrical designs into the functionality of the product intent;
  • Product data management, which makes design data, parts, drawings, and files available to authorized project personnel,
  • Technical communication of product details.

It is remarkable and laudable that such a rich set of features in a CAD software suite is being offered freely to entrepreneurs.

Are There Success Stories Related To This Entrepreneurial Program?

It is worthwhile to mention a few startups, incubators, small companies, and nonprofit organizations which are benefitting from CAD-sponsored entrepreneurial programs.

  • MassChallenge® has used the entrepreneurial program to provide accelerated startup assistance to over 100 companies in Boston and London. The services that the incubator provides include world-class mentorship, a support system from a motivated community of fellow entrepreneurs, training, marketing and media resources, funding opportunities, and free office space. The eligibility requirements are that the startup should be an early-stage startup, should have an initial funding of less than $500,000 investment, and less than $1M in revenue.
    Thus far, the incubator has risen over $706M in capital and created over 4800 new jobs.
  • The Copenhagen Wheel® has used the entrepreneurial program to transform a bicycle into a smart electric hybrid which multiplies pedalling power by a factor of 3X-10X. The system captures energy during braking or downhill motion of the bicycle, and stores the energy in an integrated lithium battery pack. When the rider pedals harder when going uphill, the stored energy assists the rider. A downloadable software application enables the rider to customize the performance of the bicycle system.
  • Goldie Blox® has used the entrepreneurial program to encourage and to mould young girls into young inventors. One way that Goldie Blox is moulding these future engineers is to provide them with role models who are interesting, smart and relatable. Another way that Goldie Blox is motivating young girls to become inventors is to provide girls at an early age with building bundles from which the girls can create innovative objects.
  • Nomiku® has used the entrepreneurial program to design a device which cooks food at the right temperature and pressure. The device cooks food in a sealed, airtight bag immersed in a water bath that is precisely controlled at an optimum temperature. This method of cooking achieves uniform cooking so that the food is neither charred on the outside nor raw on the inside. Since being kick-started by the entrepreneurial program, Nomiku has risen over $1.3 million, and the original version of the product has been sold to 7,000 homes. The company is rapidly expanding, and it is offering recipes from well-known chefs. It is also making it possible to do remotely control cooking and to share recipes with others.

Conclusions

The CAD software development program for startups and entrepreneurs is succeeding remarkably.

The program is enabling startups to succeed, and it is making it easier to train future designers and innovators.

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