DevOps tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Jira have made it very easy for software engineers to collaborate while writing code, sharing documents, providing feedback, and managing multiple versions of the same project. Unfortunately, hardware engineers have a much harder time collaborating. Hardware engineers, even those at top companies, cobble together several ad hoc solutions. They take screenshots of their projects and send feedback via email. They conduct design review by gathering around a team member’s desk. They annotate designs using Adobe or Microsoft Paint. The consequences of these outdated processes: Hundreds of wasted hours. Millions of wasted Dollars. Frustrated and exhausted engineers, and error-prone products. This problem is particularly acute in hardware development since post-production errors are much harder to fix and require an immense amount of capital.
Finally, a solution to the problems hardware engineers face has been created: Bild does for hardware engineering what DevOps tools like Jira and GitHub do for software engineering. Bild has a number of impressive features that directly address the most inefficient aspects of the collaborative engineering process. Within Bild, engineers can open their designs, manipulate and move them in 3-D, highlight and annotate any area on the rendering, easily save and manage multiple versions of their designs, and invite anyone to collaborate via a file link—the same way you would invite someone to a video conference on Zoom. In our conversations with customers, we were struck by the enthusiasm with which users spoke about different things they liked about Bild–higher quality feedback, better document organization, file sharing, etc—and they almost all also expressed enthusiasm about one key benefit: saving time. Bild is still in Beta, so the fact that it’s already having an impact on its clients’ businesses is thrilling, and we’re excited to partner with Bild as it scales both its user base and feature set.
Another aspect of Bild that we’re excited about is how it fits into our thesis on every company becoming a technology company. As more enterprises adopt the mindset and business models of tech companies, we’re confident that they’ll also adopt the business processes of tech companies—the business processes of software companies in particular. Over the next 10 years, we see more companies adopting agile methodology, scrum meetings, and developer operations software into core aspects of their businesses. As a company that is making hardware engineering more like software engineering—by essentially making DevOps software for hardware engineers—Bild is helping to create a business climate where more companies enjoy the benefits of software engineering culture.
In our experience, product-market fit is more likely to happen when there’s product-founder fit. Praydut Paul, Bild’s co-founder and CEO, and Derrick Choi, Bild’s Head of Operations, designed Bild to be the product they wish they’d had while working at Apple, designing the iPhone 11. Balancing the exceptional hardware chops of the Bild team is Avinash Kunaparaju, Bild’s co-founder and CTO, who worked as a software engineer at Facebook. The experience Bild’s founders have gained working to create world-class products in exceptionally demanding conditions gives the team exceptional insight into the needs of hardware engineers and the solutions in software engineering that are applicable to addressing them. More than that, Facebook and Apple are both companies that are famous for their obsession with creating great user experiences. Based on our conversations with users, we’re confident that making users happy is just as much a part of Bild’s DNA as it is a part of Facebook’s and Apple’s.
One of the forces driving growth of successful collaboration platforms is viral effects. Users attract their colleagues, those colleagues then attract their colleagues, and so on. Dropbox, for example, grew rapidly because they added a simple feature that enabled users to share files by simply sending clickable links —and get additional Dropbox capacity as a reward. Each user who views files on Dropbox becomes a freemium customer who can convert into a paid customer. Zoom also grew virally because all it takes to use Zoom is a link. Bild has aspects of both Dropbox and Zoom in its platform. Users can send a link to invite others to a full membership to the platform and can also, for low-intensity collaboration, send a link that gives the recipient read and limited editing privileges.
Finally, there are the network effects! As more users within a company join a team on Bild, the value of Bild to each team member increases. Since Bild is so much better than the ad hoc solutions used today, we’re confident that Bild can become the standard for keeping data and collaborating across projects teams—which will create high switching costs. A common refrain in tech is that hardware is hard. We’re proud to back a team and a product that is making hardware far easier.