BOULDER — Sometimes a great business plan is to follow the smartest people you know in the industry, and in the tech industry who’s smarter than Google?
While Oliver Davis’ business plan has progressed substantially, including a major product launch on June 16, that was pretty much what he was thinking when he founded concept3D.
That business plan began in 2006 when Google acquired Boulder’s wildly successful SketchUp, a three-dimensional modeling computer program for a wide range of drawing applications such as architecture, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film and video-game design. Google Earth was just getting off the ground and Davis figured on partnering with the tech giant to create 3-D worlds.
“It was evident that there were no companies doing that,” said Davis, the company’s chief executive. “Our roots are really in SketchUp, and we built Google Earth models. From there we did a lot of work on the Beijing Olympics (in 2008) and a lot of work for South African and European stadiums.”
A services company during its infancy, concept3D still had plenty of steady work early on with offices in Boulder and in Eden Prairie, Minn. Zack Mertz, who was the lead trainer for SketchUp prior to the Google acquisition, was the company’s first hire and runs the Minnesota office as vice president for design and production.
A sample rendering of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., demonstrates the full depth of the atlas3D platform.
“Then Disney came along and we started creating campus models,” Davis said. “We were contacted by Boston University (for a campuswide model). We had done some research in ways to make maps and 3D information more accessible, and that was the beginning of our CampusBird software.”
CampusBird, the company’s first product line, provides interactive maps and virtual tours to enrich online visitor experience — and presumably to enhance school enrollment. The company has sold the software to more than 250 universities, colleges and independent schools, but most of the 3-D imagery and mapping, which grew to include facility management services, was created by concept3D staff — meaning there was still quite a lot of reliance on the professional-services business model.
But a number of potential clients also were looking at the CampusBird model and wondering why concept3D wasn’t servicing their industries. One of those was the convention business, which has been using interactive mobile apps with maps to serve its guests, but really needed a more top-to-bottom software solution.
That solution, from Davis’ perspective, is the recently released atlas3D, which he said serves all elements of convention marketing and sales, as well as the exhibitors and guests. “Frankly, there are a lot of applications that work well enough for the guests,” he said.
For one thing, atlas3D addresses interior spaces much in the same way that CampusBird does outdoor spaces and visitation. That allows space planning by the owner or manager of the facility, as well as the host of the convention; marketing and sales by the convention planner, including online sales of specific convention areas; and planning and pricing for participants in the convention.
To top it off, atlas3D largely functions like a content-management website, allowing managers to add content and events, and rapidly change additional locations for specific conventions.
“The sky’s the limit on how much content and how many locations a planner can add,” Davis said. “They can choose what is shared publically or privately, and up to 60 people can be using the application” with specific access to areas they can change.
While conventions are a good example of how robust the atlas3D software can be, Davis said a number of other users have embraced the system in the year before its official release. One is a vacation area in Martha’s Vineyard, and a number of retirement communities already are on board, as well.
“We built atlas3D to provide a competitive edge for any location or facility looking to engage visitors online and promote their space,” said Davis in a prepared statement.
“There is no better way to give visitors, guests and customers an experience that allows them to explore and request more information or make a decision on the spot,” he said. “The atlas3D platform provides a set of tools our clients now depend on, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
While moving from a service provider to software product sales sometimes can be financially daunting, Davis said both the CampusBird and atlas3D business sectors will be positive revenue producers this year. The company doesn’t reveal its overall revenue stream, but Davis said revenue has doubled every year for a company looking forward to its 10th anniversary in August.
The company also has high hopes for its simuwatt Energy Auditor software, a cloud-based, tablet and desktop software solution that provides commercial building energy audits while preserving the data to facilitate reporting, portfolio-wide tracking and reuse. While this is the one section of the business that is not producing positive revenues, concept3D has been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide a commercial product in the simuwatt Energy Auditor.
The business perspective and client list, certainly have rapidly expanded from what might have been more simple aspirations 10 years ago, Davis said.
“We still do work with Google, started out as a Google partner and were featured at Google IO a few years ago,’ he said. “We have a continued relationship with Google, but at the same time we see the need to be map agnostic.”