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The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare
5

The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
The Mission

While I'm still above grade, I intend to create a suite of pay for play, online structural engineering tools (KootWare). And I feel that a big part of making this questionable venture a success -- or at least improving the odds of a contained failure -- will be arriving at a good pricing model. Frankly, this is something that I feel that other developers have done poorly, to their detriment. As such, I'd like to solicit feedback from the hive with respect to the pricing models that I'll propose below and any possibilities for improvement.

The Basics of What You Need to Know About the Offering

1) 100% online offering. No option for a local, perpetual license version.

2) The goal here is not to get rich. The goal is to extract enough income from this that I can justify pouring a lot of effort into a project that I expect to enjoy a great deal.

3) Spit balling, if I could create enough value that I could convince 1000 SE's to part with $5/month, that would be enough. Or any other combination of numbers that gets to the same place. How many software using structural engineers do we think exist in North America anyhow? Sixteen? Eighty thousand? I really don't know.

4) Think something along the lines of TEDDS, ENERCALC, or Jabacus on steroids. I do have ideas for, in my opinion, greatly improving upon these offerings. I'd like that to be a separate conversation however. For now, make a leap of faith and just assume that it will be awesome.

5) I intend to attach some manner of structural only, online forum to the offering. While it would be a free-form space for conversation, as Eng-Tips is, it's ostensible purpose would be to provide a place for me to provide responsive help to anybody designing stuff utilizing the software. Thus making the whole thing even more fun for me. This would be offered in addition to the usual help guide and verification manuals etc <-- edit added per skeletron's comments.

Some Obvservations that I Have Regarding the Pricing Models of Others

6) For software of this type, I feel that a monthly subscription pricing scheme would not be well received. As a small outfit my self, I loathe taking on any additional "monthlys", no matter how great the ROI seems to be. I'm always afraid that I'll use it twice and forget to cancel. I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way.

7) I also don't think that a straight "pay per use" model is the way to go either. Design is an iterative process and software licensing needs to reflect that. Sadly, I don't just design a shear wall once. I probably design it half a dozen times before all is said and done. And I can't be losing my shirt on pay per use while going through that process.

8) One has to assume that anything that can be abused, will be abused. This will prevent me from being quite as customer friendly as I would otherwise wish to be. My own IP halo gets a little dirty from time to time so no judgement here.

Pricing Model A

This is my favorite of the two and would appeal to me as a customer. Keep in mind than none of the particular values are set in any way. It's really more about the structure at this point. That said, if anybody has thoughts on what the numbers ought to be, I'd welcome that too. I figure I'll adjust as use data starts to pile up but I'll still have to start somewhere.

1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.

2) Buy yourself some quantity KootWare credits. $10. $100. Whatever. Little gold doubloons in your digital purse.

3) To access the retaining wall tool for use, you pay $5. After the first run, you have the lesser of 20 additional runs or 60 days to keep using the tool on the original $5. One "run" would represent one execution of a full design with detailed output. <-- added per skeletron's comments.

4) If you want to share your account login and credits with somebody else, that's your prerogative. Share it with your coworker, a school chum in Brisbane, your aunt... retaining walls for everybody on that original $5. But, no matter who's using, it taps out after 20 runs or 60 days.

Pricing Model B

1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.

2) Buy yourself some quantity KootWare credits. $10. $100. Whatever.

3) You can use any tool your like, for free, but you can't get a detailed printout for your calcs until some money has changed hands. The software would tell you the basics of what passed and what failed and would allow you to save your file to the system for future retrieval. I kind of like this in that it would allow one to essentially do their preliminary design work for free. I could allow folks to printout their inputs in case they were worried about my going bankrupt before they get to IFC.

4) When you've got all your design settled and ready for final calc documentation, it's $5 per print. The trouble with this is, I couldn't let the user see the detailed printout ahead of paying for it. Otherwise, I'll wind up with a bunch of folks just doing screen capture etc.







RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Here are my observations and opinions:

1. Without seeing what the printouts would be, I would be very hesitant to pay $5 per printout without seeing it first...actually for that price, I would probably try it once. So, there is probably a threshold between "taking a chance" and "not a chance."
2. The idea of the open help forum is a good one. I would speculate that you would be better off creating a comprehensive troubleshooting guide.
3. What is classified as a "run"? Thinking about Profis or even a spreadsheet (which automatically calculates as you change a number), is a run classified as a single change or is the run classified as a calculate button that is pressed.
4. The #1 thing for me running any software on the spectrum is a graphical depiction. The more accurate and to-scale it is, the better. However, I think there is a quick threshold drop-off when the graphic becomes the only thing attractive about the software.
5. The credits version is clever and definitely a way for users to spend more without knowing it, but also realize how to be efficient in their spending. I don't think subscriptions get the user to make this insight on their own.
6. Pricing Model A works once a user is familiar. Pricing Model B introduces the user to the concept. There's a way to marry the two.
7. There is one software company that actually calculates the "design time" in minutes so that if you run a quick design in under 5 minutes (for example) it doesn't count toward your total. My issue is that a timed mechanism feels like SE's going to a casino and seeing how much they can extract before having to leave or pay. I like the idea of Jabacus as a quick preliminary check but not as my final design. I think you have offered the beginnings of this option.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I would rather pay $50 per month than $5 per print, or $5 for 20 runs of the spreadsheet.

I have come across a similar tools - called "skyciv" it appears the guy running it is trying to expand it.

love the idea of a web portal only. make it like netflix - you can share the account with all your friends around the world - but there are levels of access ie. basic subsription only 1 open portal at a time, next level, 3 etc.

if you are lucky you may land a whale and get a 100-500 person subscription.

you could probably get rich even if the software was a one trick pony - that you could refine/optimize steel moment frames with reduced beam sections as per the AISC manual - Ive spent days mucking around with amateur in house spreadsheets for that purpose. you could probably charge $50/month, and sign up hundreds of engineering companies, especially the small ones that dabble in single family homes.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
@Skeletron & NorthCivil: thanks for the input.

Quote (Skeletron)

The idea of the open help forum is a good one. I would speculate that you would be better off creating a comprehensive troubleshooting guide.

My intent would be to do both. Verification, trouble shooting guide, and the live chat kind of thing. My hope with the forum is that I could make myself part of the service. Something akin to what rapt does with his software package. You get they toys and the developer to help you use them.

Quote (skeletron)

What is classified as a "run"?

A run would be effectively one print of the final, detailed solution. You muck with the input all you like but a run wouldn't occur until you push "calculate" or whatever. At present, I'm not envisioning something where the output is updated in real time along with input adjustments. This is the feature set part of it that I don't want to delve into here but I want to create something that is a blend of power and simplicity, meant to be used creatively by folks that know what their doing. I want to stay away from dummy proof black box things that attempt to do too much and wind up doing it not well enough in my opinion. As just one example, I'd like there to be a place where users can define their own databases of load combinations and then apply those within the various design tools as they see fit. I'd also like some tools to generate project specific nonographs rather than piecemeal designs.

Quote (Skeletron)

The #1 thing for me running any software on the spectrum is a graphical depiction. The more accurate and to-scale it is, the better

I expect to head in the other direction, at least initially. A good sketch to pair up with the numeric output is where I see my sweet spot in terms of effort & utility. I won't be getting into complex steel connections or anything where accurate visual modelling is important.

Quote (skeltron)

The credits version is clever and definitely a way for users to spend more without knowing it, but also realize how to be efficient in their spending. I don't think subscriptions get the user to make this insight on their own.

I agree and this really is the crux of the model other than my intense desire to avoid a monthly subscription. I think that, often, the ROI really is there for these tools but the subscription model keeps people from "feeling it". The last thing in the world that I'd want is to find folks here bitching about my predatory pricing practices etc. I want users to be drawn to the system rather than pushed towards it. I want someone to run a tool and say to themselves "That would have taken me 90 min by hand. Instead, it's taken me 20 min and a $5 investment. Yay KootWare."

Quote (skeletron)

Pricing Model A works once a user is familiar. Pricing Model B introduces the user to the concept. There's a way to marry the two

I've been envisioning that, at any point, there will be a substantial subset of teaser tools that are free and would allow users to get a feel for how things work. One option would be to have some common things always free. And I'd actually considered NC's moment frame idea as a prime candidate for this. Another option I'd considered is having a random set of tools be free in any given month. I'm worried that this would create that casino feel that you mentioned. Probably better just to feebie a handful of tools with lots of mass appeal.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (NorthCivil)

I would rather pay $50 per month than $5 per print, or $5 for 20 runs of the spreadsheet.

Noted but, as I mentioned in the OP, monthly subscription is pretty much the one alternative that I'm not willing to consider. I'd be willing too consider a monthly max bill of $50 if I could think of a way to keep that from being abused. I don't want the entire world sharing one account for $50/month etc.

Quote (NC)

hat you could refine/optimize steel moment frames with reduced beam sections as per the AISC manual - Ive spent days mucking around with amateur in house spreadsheets for that purpose.

Got it, thanks. On the list of future tools.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Risa

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
RISA is a subscription model which I intentionally plan to stay away from. Additionally, it's an entirely different different product (full FEM) than I'd be targeting.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Not a SE. Maybe this thought is universal in engineering:

How do you show that the result is valid? Do your users have to run a dozen dummy models to compare against hand-calcs of their own before the results can be accepted. I mean, "cha-ching" for you if they do. In my industry, and I expect it's the same in structural, often times you don't have to show around your calculations, but you do want them to be reliable enough that if s**t hits the fan you can explain yourself without going red in the face.
Granted, it would be hilarious to hear a SE stand up in court say "I dunno why it fell down, I just ran a calculation on KOOK's website".

No one believes the theory except the one who developed it. Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.
STF

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I don't think B is a good model at all. It leaves you open to people using you for preliminary design and then running confirmation calcs on their own for record keeping if necessary. The problem is that:

1) A lot of people don't care that much about good record keeping

2) confirmation calcs aren't actually a large portion of the time needed to do a design. Once you've got an answer, you an fire out some calcs pretty easily to confirm. Quick iteration is where you save effort. So you'd have people using it for free. I would likely do this if I ran across a tool with that model.

Honestly, for an online system I'd prefer a subscription model. It makes sense for the medium and the workflow that you'd see. Maybe just have some basic pricing options. A more expensive rate per module and a discounted rate for all the modules or certain combinations. Then a similar set of discounts for 30 day, 90 day, 12 month subscriptions. It's straightforward and easily understood. Just make sure that output and input can be downloaded as pdfs for record keeping. You're going to scare people away with weird or complicated pricing models. Subscription models also work well to free trials.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

personally not a fan of either option the semi "a la carte" style of model A inadvertently comes off as nickle and dimeing and the hostage printing of model B takes me back to the shareware days of the 90's when you'd get those CD's that had 100's of programs on them where just when they got interesting they would ask for your, for my age bracket your parents, credit card.

The Kootware credits idea is also a turn off. If it's just straight money credit it's almost like putting money in escrow which from a business side I'd much rather that money be sitting in my account then in your services account. I've also never been a fan of the artificial currency systems they usually just add a layer of confusion and act to have people pump more of their real money into the system. Would much rather just pay for each use.

If they do work though I could see running into cash flow problems when the server bill comes due. Depending on where you host this thing you may find the costs end up being variable, I know Amazon's system has a variable rate based on number of active processes, number of databases, and general storage quantity.

Edit:

Maybe a per project annual model where we pay a flat price for a database and then a la carte pricing for each of the modules. Modules could be pro-rated if added latter in the year. Could still see this landing you in hot water on the server bill though, which I'd guess is why a lot of the players out there are doing monthly subs.

Edit2:
on the Kootware credits if instead of a pay per credit thing if they were an earned reward system for users who have been exceptionally helpful in the forums, like the star system here, provide beta testing services, or perhaps have just been loyal customers for awhile (loyalty bonuses used to be a thing). I could get behind something like that.


Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

For me to formulate an opinion on what/how I would prefer paying for a service such as you are envisioning, I need to have an idea of what the actual structural tools are. Realizing this would be an ongoing enterprise where you add or improve it over time, the initial "kick-off" will probably be the main thing that signals everyone's response in terms of money.

If I see a lot of really good tools (say 15) that I would rarely use because of my business mix, but also see 3 or 4 things I would use, then my desired payment method is more along the pay as you go model.

On the other hand, if I see 18 tools that I would most likely use a lot due to my business mix, I am more for the "buying in bulk" method.

Also, while I love graphics, I am more concerned first with the "answer" itself and then I want a nice output graphic secondarily. I would not mind not having graphics as long as I can decipher the answer. I am assuming you are writing software that tackles some of the more difficult items that not all engineers may be well-versed in.

I bought a "package of tools" once for about $1,000. Of the package, there were only 3 tools I really needed and used a lot. The other 10 I rarely use. The foundation program I was really interested in sounded good until I used it for real, not the trial version. Turns out, it only does vertical loads down, no uplift loads. I was buying it to speed up PEMB foundation designs. Well, no real use there since about all metal buildings have uplift and in my area, uplift generally controls the design in several aspects. That experience shaped my thoughts on paying. With your proposed system, I would not have to worry about not being able to try it out. Once I see the actual program, where I can use it in my business etc, then I would have a better idea of how much I am willing to come off the hip for.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

If I pay for something, I want to at least 'feel' like its 'mine' to use as I see fit. If I got used to your tools, and am using them under typical time crunch pressure, if the # of calcs/runs becomes another added consideration/complication in my workflow, I just don't see myself keeping it as a regular part of said workflow.

That said, I'm in a 2-man shop, and I'd be very near the front of the line to give whatever you come out with a shot.

Edit: After reading Celt83's edit about 'per project' fees...that thought crossed my mind as something I'd be willing to pay for, just to pay a flat fee to be able to iterate as many times as I want. I'm not sure how to stop that from being taken advantage of though, by people running multiple projects through a single 'project fee'...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
A few general comments before I start responding to the specific comments of others (Thanks for everyone's help).

1) I'm glad that I came here to ask this. I really thought that I had a home run with my pricing model and that appears to not be the case.

2) I get that some folks will always prefer the monthly subscription or full, perpetual ownership but that won't ever be the path for me. I feel that I'm able to read the tea leaves on this part of it fairly well and, for tools of the type I mean to develop, I think that a monthly subscription model would just see KootWare on the scrap heap of other vendors who've tried this.

3) An interesting case in point for me has been that of a software vendor by the name of Napior. A couple of guys in Seattle who had some slick modules for wind, snow, EQ and some other stuff. It was really well done and I signed up thinking that, at $20/mo this couldn't possibly NOT have good ROI. Six months later, I'd paid $120 and only used the tool twice. And I was mad at myself for a) the waste and b) the fact that I now had to go to the trouble of unsubscribing. And all this, despite the tool being excellent. I vowed, in the future, to be very discriminating about the kind of subscription services that I signed up for. As far as I can tell, Napior no longer exists.

I'm a small business owner and expect most of my customers to be small to mid-sized outfits. While it seems as though any one $20/month thing is of no consequence, it's surprisingly easy for me to get to the point where all of my subscriptions added together sort of ARE. Risa + Basecamp + Dropbox + Eriksson Precast + Autocad + Revit + Quickbooks + Bluebeam + Office 365 + Godaddy + E&O Insurance + General Liability Insurance. You get the idea. And this is just the stuff that I quite literally cannot do without.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

My thoughts so far

1. There is a software out there that charges by the number of users active at the same time. My office doesn't use it much but occasionally things come up and a couple people will jump into it at the same time unknowingly and 6 months later we get an enormous bill. That company's business practices and that style of cost structure has left a very sour taste for me. I would much rather something have a dead simple pricing scheme.

2. The "a la carte" type of structure could encourage users to come to the platform that might require more support. Say an architect that just needs a header size. Maybe this is something that you want to encourage maybe it's not. Either way, worth considering.

3. I think at least in the beginning to gain credibility, there would need to be a somewhat free module. Something common with Enercalc or similar that can be compared easily.

I'll have more thoughts later.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Sparweb)

How do you show that the result is valid? Do your users have to run a dozen dummy models to compare against hand-calcs of their own before the results can be accepted.

I really haven't gotten that far yet. Some ideas:

- There would be verification examples.
- There would be a user's manual.
- If someone is serous about using a tool, spending $5 to run twenty designs against verification models doesn't seem unreasonable.
- If someone expresses an interest and contacts me about it, I'd be happy to give away a free 20 runs / 30 days on a module.
- If someone expresses an interest and contacts me about it, I'd be happy to run some verification models for them if they wished.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

For me, the number one thing would be a print out showing inputs, detailed calculation, and outputs, with a sketch (no scale needed), with lots of description and reference to code clauses. Basically just like the Mathcad sheets I use.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (TLHS)

I don't think B is a good model at all. It leaves you open to people using you for preliminary design and then running confirmation calcs on their own for record keeping if necessary.

Noted and thank you.

Quote (TLHS)

2) confirmation calcs aren't actually a large portion of the time needed to do a design. Once you've got an answer, you an fire out some calcs pretty easily to confirm. Quick iteration is where you save effort. So you'd have people using it for free. I would likely do this if I ran across a tool with that model.

I'm going to push back on this a bit. I agree, a designer spends most of their time in the iterative portion. But as long as I'm getting $5 (or $3 or $1.. or whatever) per design I don't know that I care. I see spending however long arriving at your final answer and then having two choices:

1) I can pay this KootK dude, for whom I now have a modicum of loyalty, $5 and I'm don with this or;

2) You fire off some calcs of your own, as you suggested. But, really, what could you expect to fire off on your own that would be worth lest than $5 of your time?

When I think of it this way, I appeals to me greatly. As long as I get my $5, I'd be honored to be the dude that provides your with a great, free preliminary design tool.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Another general comment:

I've done some reading on what makes video games addictive. Much of it comes down to there being a very short cycle between investment and reward. That's just how human brains are wired. We're like smart-ish chickens. So I'm really wanting the experience to be like this:

1) Hmm... this tool looks like it might work for me.
2) The outlay is a measly $5 with no ongoing commitment. What am I really risking here? I'll try it.
3) Wow, that tool I spent $5 on must have saved me 45 minutes of effort.
4) KootWare has earned a little good will from me and I'll consider trying it again in the future.

That it. I've positioned the ROI as close to the initial investment as I can. No waiting a month or six to figure out if the cost benefit pans out. Like the crystal methamphetamine of structural software.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt)

inadvertently comes off as nickle and dimeing and the hostage printing of model B

This is kind of a double edge sword I think. Yes I'm nickel and diming you. But then I'm only charging you nickels and dimes. It's not as though you paid me $50 for a month initially and then I was gouging you for a bunch of little extras. It would only ever be the little extras in the amount that you thought valuable enough to pay for. To an extent, I really do think this will require a bit of a change of mindset for users who are used to other things. And perhaps that's unacceptably dangerous.

Quote (Celt)

The Kootware credits idea is also a turn off. If it's just straight money credit it's almost like putting money in escrow

I don't think that this will be a big deal. Firstly, it can always just be pay as you go if preferred. Nothing in escrow. Secondly, the amount could be as ridiculously small as desired. $5. $20. The only reason to even have a credit system is that I'm imagining a manager signing up to use it for a small office. Maybe they want to buy $50 worth of credit and then let their team go nuts with it, knowing that's it's capped at $50

Quote (Celt)

If they do work though I could see running into cash flow problems when the server bill comes due.

I'd not given this much though. I will now though thanks to you.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

If your talking $5 drops...maybe something like Digital Oceans Droplet model would be interesting kind of a roll your own design tool set.

I think there is opportunity to break the mold on the pricing structures being utilized.

Quote (KootK)

will require a bit of a change of mindset for users who are used to other things.
It is important to point out this will be the biggest hurdle we are all creatures of habit and the full online model is hard for your average person to grasp since they don't get anything other than what they see in their browser so that immediately kind of cheapens the product for some people.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (canwesteng)

For me, the number one thing would be a print out showing inputs, detailed calculation, and outputs, with a sketch (no scale needed), with lots of description and reference to code clauses. Basically just like the Mathcad sheets I use.

#metoo. I've actually spent a good deal of time seeing if there could be a way to just host MathCAD sheets online AS the tools. It doesn't appear feasible from what I can tell. I'm drifting into content as I'd sworn not to but, when I look into my crystal ball:

1) Tools that are simple but clean and powerful and meant to be used by the competent. I don't want the software to be an engineer for you. I want the software to enable the snot out of your being a great engineer. It's an arsenal that you combine, with your own tools, into a whole. It's never trying to BE the whole.

2) I see my sweet spot as being spreadsheets that you almost certainly could make yourself but will almost never have the time to get around to actually making yourself. And I think this makes some intuitive sense. Something requiring that much effort probably only makes sense if it's being used by a larger pool of people.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Many eons ago, Mathworks did have a Mathcad Application Server that was extant for a while, and then they stopped.

These days, I would think are other similar options, where you might simulate the effect of running a Mathcad Application Server, such as spawning virtual machines running Mathcad on your own server. Might take a bit of system coding to get to that state, though.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt)

It is important to point out this will be the biggest hurdle we are all creatures of habit...

Any thoughts on the crystal meth program that I described above? This really is the key to what I want to do I think. Think that's got any merit? This is how I see changing hearts and minds on this aspect of things. A minuscule investment coupled with an immediate, tangible ROI.

One aspect that gives me real hope is the Canadian market as I feel that it's horrendously underserved. Three out of five engineers seem to use this for real production work: Link. I intend to to something of a much grander scale than Jabacus but, in their defense, they don't really seem to be trying to do much with it. Probably just a hobbyist. Canada's only 1/10th the market that the US is but if I could have a big chunk of it, that's like being the king California!

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Huevo)

The "a la carte" type of structure could encourage users to come to the platform that might require more support. Say an architect that just needs a header size. Maybe this is something that you want to encourage maybe it's not. Either way, worth considering.

You're right, that is something that I want to encourage as it fits my service model. I will give it some more thought though.

Quote (Huevo)

I think at least in the beginning to gain credibility, there would need to be a somewhat free module. Something common with Enercalc or similar that can be compared easily.

I agree completely. Many ideas:

1) I see probably 10% of the tools suite probably being perpetually free. Just some fun, useful teaser that most folks probably have tools for already.

2) Gotta watch out for that casino feel but I'd considered randomly rotating tools that are free and using that for advertising. I probably won't do this though as it even rubs me the wrong way wrt to the thing feeling un-serious.

3) I expect to be in a near constant state of tool addition. I thought that it might be fun to have many things remain in the freebie zone for the first six months that they are available etc. Again, something that might be a good fit for an advert "check out the new widget at KootWare, free for the next six months".

Truly, I don't see the super serious software space as being my zone. It's always going to feel more like Enercalc than ETABS.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I like it in concept feed me something simply say beam reactions and max moment and with a small one time payment give me full beam diagrams deflection and detailed span bracket functions.

It's a bit like the Apple/Android app stores there is the "F it why not" price and then there is the "eh this looks cool but I'm not paying that" price. I'm not sure what the latter number would end up being and perhaps it's variable based on the complexity of the program so maybe that beam program is a $1 to run the advanced stuff or $5 if you want to expand it to some material design.

Maybe you have a free aspect where all results get stored in a common database that everyone can look at various analytics on.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Ron247)

For me to formulate an opinion on what/how I would prefer paying for a service such as you are envisioning, I need to have an idea of what the actual structural tools are.

Quote (KootK)

Think something along the lines of TEDDS, ENERCALC, or Jabacus on steroids. I do have ideas for, in my opinion, greatly improving upon these offerings. I'd like that to be a separate conversation however. For now, make a leap of faith and just assume that it will be awesome.

That's the best that I can do for now. Without hyperbole, you may well have the opportunity to tell me what tools I should have and how you'd want them to be. So try to imagine yourself in that future.

Quote (Ron247)

If I see a lot of really good tools (say 15) that I would rarely use because of my business mix, but also see 3 or 4 things I would use, then my desired payment method is more along the pay as you go model. On the other hand, if I see 18 tools that I would most likely use a lot due to my business mix, I am more for the "buying in bulk" method.

I can't really imagine anything whereby anybody would use a high percentage of the tools. Think three hundred tools and eight that you use regularly. I plan to come at this with a vengeance: wood, steel, concrete, precast, cold formed, design loads, analysis tools, US, Canada. Part of the fun will be that I'll track the rates of usage on various tools and let that guide me wrt where additional development time is best spent.

Quote (Ron247)

I am assuming you are writing software that tackles some of the more difficult items that not all engineers may be well-versed in.

That is accurate. I feel that one of the "voids" out there right now is that many of the software folks seem to have lost touch with what it's really like to design in a production office. Either they've lost touch with it or they never new it in the first place, I'm not sure. As an example, I've seen a firm's spreadsheet that designs ALL of the pad footing in one go. Put in the basic geo parameters and you've got 3' footings up to 12' footing in one run. Hand that off to drafting for schedule development and come back to delete unused rows at IFC print. I want to do stuff like this where we're really anticipating production office work flow rather than one-off element design (certainly there will be this too).

Quote (Ron247)

With your proposed system, I would not have to worry about not being able to try it out. Once I see the actual program, where I can use it in my business etc, then I would have a better idea of how much I am willing to come off the hip for.

Yeah, that really is my hope. Demonstrated return on investment in little bit sized chunks. And, if I could find a way to offer it without it being abused, I'd have no problem with something like "okay, you've spent $25 this month, anything else is on the house."

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Daywalker)

That said, I'm in a 2-man shop, and I'd be very near the front of the line to give whatever you come out with a shot.

Thanks for this, truly. I'm a tiny shop as well and am really my own intended demographic to a large degree.

Quote (Daywalker)

If I pay for something, I want to at least 'feel' like its 'mine' to use as I see fit.

I expect that there will always be a market segment that feels this way and that I'll have to forgo their participation. The best that I can do with respect to making it yours would be:

1) You can download the input file.
2) You can save the input file to the system for retrieval.
3) You can print and save the detailed output.

Having the coding be "yours" in any meaningful way will be too much of a departure from my vision on this.

Quote (Daywalker)

If I got used to your tools, and am using them under typical time crunch pressure, if the # of calcs/runs becomes another added consideration/complication in my workflow, I just don't see myself keeping it as a regular part of said workflow.

I think that I can address this though. The idea would be to have the number of runs and time out period on each purchase be such that you never actually run into this. I pitched $5/20run/60days just to put some numbers on it but it's completely up for negotiation. Is there any version of that that would appeal to you?

Quote (Daywalker)

After reading Celt83's edit about 'per project' fees...that thought crossed my mind as something I'd be willing to pay for, just to pay a flat fee to be able to iterate as many times as I want. I'm not sure how to stop that from being taken advantage of though, by people running multiple projects through a single 'project fee'...

Without question, I feel that this would be ideal model if it could be executed with out inviting the abuse that you've also anticipated. My proposals have really been developed in an attempt to get as close to this as possible. Instead of "$15 bucks all you can eat for this meal" it's "$5 for as much of this bacon as you want up to 500 pieces or next Tuesday". The former is better but, obviously, much harder to police.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (Celt83)

It's a bit like the Apple/Android app stores there is the "F it why not" price and then there is the "eh this looks cool but I'm not paying that" price. I'm not sure what the latter number would end up being and perhaps it's variable based on the complexity of the program so maybe that beam program is a $1 to run the advanced stuff or $5 if you want to expand it to some material design.

"Kootware: now FREE!!!!*"

Small print:
* with in-app-purchases

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (celt)

...give me full beam diagrams deflection and detailed span bracket functions.

Again sidetracking into content but one thing that I want to get into deep is add on software for existing FEM programs. You know, read in your ETABS shear wall file and do a bunch of amazing data handling voodoo. And, as I said, batch design of pretty much anything that would make sense. A version of our (yours and mine) work on stud wall design charts is very much on the hit list too.

A utility for the design of any simple span beam with cantilevers is on the list for the freebie section as well. Something like the older versions of RAMSteel but with more material options.

Quote (Celt)

It's a bit like the Apple/Android app stores there is the "F it why not" price

That's my space for sure. That said, done right, I could easily it being the kind thing where:

a) You "accidentally" spend $15 in may instead of $5 BUT;

b) Your not upset about this because you still felt that the $15 was good value.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (winelandv)

"Kootware: now FREE!!!!*"

KootWare: now FREE with the purchase of this T-shirt!!

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Actually, let me pick the T-shirt color, and I might get one even if the Kootware package isn't thrown in.

I know my wife won't understand it, but she doesn't understand my red mage/nuklearpower shirt, either.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I mean at least make the white transparent what is this amateur hour.

KootWare: I got a steak from BARetired...nuff said.

I'm really interested to see where this ends up.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

I'm really interested to see where this ends up.

As well you should be. If I have my way, you'll be on the development team. My dream version of this is:

1) Establish a base platform for tool development and eCommerce.

2) Rope as many trusted tool development contributors into the mix as possible with everybody getting paid for their tools.

3) Use the collaborative setup as a way to grow the tool set fast and reel in constant feedback about what is good and bad from practicing engineers (forum does this too).

That said, if I gotta just do it myself, that's cool too.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

You're right, that is something that I want to encourage as it fits my service model. I will give it some more thought though.
I suspected this might be the case. It seems you have 2 different types of customer.

1. The engineer or practitioner that puts kootware into their workflow and uses the software frequently. I would very likely be here. Especially if the tools are successful in being friendly to a production office. I would want to at least have the option of a constant monthly fee. Helps with budgeting and not surprising the ownership with varying software costs. It's hard enough to get them to splurge on software. They are much more likely to go for something that is a known constant cost as opposed to something that varies based what types of projects we are doing at that time. I can already see them trying to track the costs and back-charge them to the projects. Yuck.

1a. This person also would need very little technical assistance from you.

2. The individual that uses the software less frequently, mostly to fill a void in their other toolboxs. A la carte works great. You pay for what you need and only what you need. Perfect for this individual.

2b. This person is likely to need the most technical assistance while also using the software the least.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
I really wanted a throne made of old HP calculators but, you know... time. Pretty sure I could make an armrest just out of what I got in my desk drawer.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Need to find a way to work this into the tool set and merch.:
Advanced online calculator

I like and agree with what Huevo is getting at with the types of users. My firm would fall in the type 1 set where a set fee would be easier to budget and sell, even though the surprise costs sound like they could be on a smaller scale there is some uneasy feeling towards that model thanks to Bentley's licensing model (they have gotten better with the connect system). So having the option for a long term single payment investment would be nice.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (Celt83)

even though the surprise costs sound like they could be on a smaller scale

Agree.

@KootK It seems fussy but even at a small company like mine. That type of stuff just seems to make itself into an issue. Even when you bring up that the half hour conversation spent discussing the varying costs could have been spent doing design to pay for the whole month of subscription. Just take my $50-$100 USD per month per user (or whatever it would need to be) and get the accounting people off my back.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Huevo)

The "a la carte" type of structure could encourage users to come to the platform that might require more support. Say an architect that just needs a header size. Maybe this is something that you want to encourage maybe it's not.

Quote (KootK)

You're right, that is something that I want to encourage as it fits my service model. I will give it some more thought though.

Quote (Heuvo)

I suspected this might be the case.

Yeah. For my Utopian version, imagine a future not far from now..

[Hapless EIT] Mr Huevo Sir! I've been struggling with this STM pile cap design for hours now and making little progress!

[CEO Huevo] I have a meeting downtown in ten minutes and I just don't have time for this crap Hapless. There are some decent STM tools on KootWare and I've known that guy forever. He lives for wasting time. Just post something on the forum there and see what you can come up with. I'll review it in the morning.


So we do this, it works out amazingly, and the next thing you know, I'm waking up every day truly looking forward to what it will entail.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

FWIW:

The only paid for software I use is either:
- Yearly subscription (MS Office, it used to be monthly subscription, but yearly is cheaper).
- One off purchase
- One off purchase plus annual support fee covering upgrades and technical help.

For a product with a limited market the last one seems most suitable to me.

I wouldn't be interested in pay per use software in any form.

I'm also not sure what the attraction of on-line applications is. Everything I have seen has been slow and clunky, with (for me) precisely zero advantages to make up for it.

Good luck with your project anyway :)

Doug Jenkins
Interactive Design Services
http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Thanks for your input.

Quote (IDS)

The only paid for software I use is either:

I suspect that you're a little special in that you've got vastly more of your own tools, and the ability to create more, than a typical customer.

Quote (IDS)

I'm also not sure what the attraction of on-line applications is.

I'm the reverse and can't wait for it all to be online so that I can use it from anywhere and not have to concern my self with installation issues locally. It just has to be acceptably good. To this day, if feel that most of what is available, really isn't. I won't be doing any fancy FEM etc so I'd expect most of what I've got in mind to run acceptably quickly. I think that another advantage for online deliver is the ease with which updates can be made. Most of what I'd be creating will be tied to codes and material standards.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (IDS)

I'm also not sure what the attraction of on-line applications is.

It's always up-to-date. No more downloading updates or dealing with compatibility issues between versions of software.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt)

So having the option for a long term single payment investment would be nice.

Quote (Heuvo)

Just take my $50-$100 USD per month per user (or whatever it would need to be) and get the accounting people off my back.

At some point, one has to stop telling people what they should want and start responding to what they do want. So I guess that I'll have to come up with some kind of flat rate monthly or a monthly cap. I'll just have to sort out the mechanics of how to do that without it being abused. I'm still definitely going to offer a per-use-ish option though and push for that to be the dominant model. I just see too many competitors in this space flailing with subscription models and I need this as a differentiation vehicle.

Quote (Heuvo)

They are much more likely to go for something that is a known constant cost as opposed to something that varies based what types of projects we are doing at that time

Suspend disbelief for a moment and take a walk with me through and alternate universe where being able to break down software costs per project was actually considered desirable. Something like this:

1) The platform allows you to set up "Jobs" even if pricing is still per tool use (20 run / 60d or whatever).

2) You can attribute each tools use to a particular job.

3) At project closeout, you'd run yourself sort of an invoice indicating KootWare costs for the job.

I almost feel as though this would be the ultimate in project accounting. Moreover, I feel as though it would help to shift things towards what I would consider to be the correct mindset: viewing each successful use of the right software as a savings to the project rather than a cost. Manpower vs computing power.

Huh-huh??? Any curb appeal??

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

I just see too many competitors in this space flailing with subscription models...

Is this truly the case? Are they flailing because of the subscription model?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Huevo)

Is this truly the case? Are they flailing because of the subscription model?

Cause and effect is tough to parse out of course. How about this:

1) It seems to me that many are not succeeding and the majority are rocking subscription models.

2) The natural way for me to view the world is as myself. And I absolutely loath signing on for subscription model software in the small time, non-FEM space. This is probably the same aspect of my personality that keeps me still wasting gobs of time torrenting movies and television rather than just paying two cents per month for Netflix. Am I a one man anomaly in this? Dunno. Hence this here focus group testing.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Huevo)

Are they flailing because of the subscription model?

My sense of this, which I cannot prove, is that once you reach a certain threshold of price and required customer commitment, there's really a good deal of pressure to justify your existence as a vendor. This will sound weak but I really don't relish having to justify to someone why KootWare really would be worth $50 per month every month. And not just worth that amount monthly but, also, a better value than other monthly options priced similarly. You know, because I would be a pretty tough sell for this were roles reversed.

I see it much as Celt described:

Quote (Celt)

...there is the "F it why not" price and then there is the "eh this looks cool but I'm not paying that" price.

I feel as though the F-it price is the only way to access otherwise difficult to change hearts and minds. If feel that people may be convince-able one tool use at a time in a way that they don't seem to be "one costly month of unlimited access" at a time.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Part of our disconnect here might be that:

1) Some of us are coming at this from the perspective of "accounting departments" whereas;

2) Others of us are coming at this from the perspective "lean as lean can be startups".

I want all of #2 and the smaller scale end of #1 ultimately.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Here I come to drop poo all over everything again.

Your idea sounds more and more like what this guy is doing for aerospace: https://www.abbottaerospace.com/
The link is a spreadsheet that calculates the fastener load distribution in a material splice.
He has done hundreds of these, all free downloads. There is a polite request for donations.
Sorry.
Why does he do this?
It's like an extension of his resume.

Another example? Medeek
Also free. This one may be meant to attract customers to an existing business, which has architectural plans for sale.
Presumably for those who don't want to use the calculation pages. Their loss: it's a pretty website.

No one believes the theory except the one who developed it. Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.
STF

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

3) At project closeout, you'd run yourself sort of an invoice indicating KootWare costs for the job.

I almost feel as though this would be the ultimate in project accounting. Moreover, I feel as though it would help to shift things towards what I would consider to be the correct mindset: viewing each successful use of the right software as a savings to the project rather than a cost. Manpower vs computing power.

While I see this being a plus for small, lean, startups, I worry that such tracking tools could lead to further commoditization of engineers in big companies. "Well, Bob did a similar analysis with fewer runs. We need you to start reducing your analysis costs."

Just a semi-related "larger" thought. Feel free to ignore.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

What if you offered two options - the # of runs option and the unlimited access monthly fee option?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (windlandv)

"Well, Bob did a similar analysis with fewer runs. We need you to start reducing your analysis costs."

Truly, the idea would be to provide so many runs with each $5 tool purchase that no one would ever find themselves paying more than once for any individual design / project. I'd plan to monitor usage somehow so that I could adapt the pricing structure to ensure this was the case.

Quote (structSU10)

What if you offered two options - the # of runs option and the unlimited access monthly fee option?

It sounds as though this is what I'll have to do. Just gotta sort out the mechanics of that without opening it up to rampant abuse. My tech skills aren't strong enough that I quite know how it would work to try to limit usage to a single IP address etc.

I actually want the software, and user's accounts, to get passed around like a bong at a frat party. The more utility folks are getting out of the thing, the better. So, whatever I do, I don't want to wind up with anything that's locked down too tight.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

This idea reminds me of CivilAx or AISC tools The pain is keeping the tools up to date with the latest code.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (GC_Hopi)

This idea reminds me of CivilAx or AISC tools The pain is keeping the tools up to date with the latest code.

Not much like AISC tools as it won't be discrete spreadsheets for download. Closer to the Civilbay / Jabacus example but at a much grander scale.

Keeping the tools updated to the latest code would really be part of the fun for me. I like programming.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

The programming is less of an issue. It's easy enough to hire people for that. The complicating factor is locating and interpreting the changes. Are you planning on pricing based on the code edition? Or a one time cost to upgrade your account to the latest code?

I would be interested in the scope of this software...material, code, customization but that is another post.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I am so used to monthly model I never quite thought about anything otherwise. That said, the mix of per run model does appear to make more sense from the you pay for what you use.

Perhaps a tiered pricing model of how much you use the tool?

Here is what I am thinking, you sell by the module:
  • Free trial have 3 runs 1 days and no print ability. For each module
  • $5 gets 20 runs or 30 days
  • $10 gets 100 runs or 60 days
  • $20 unlimited 120 days?
And then discount for buying multiple module
  • 2 modules - 10% saving on each module
  • Interpolate here
  • 10 modules - 50% saving on each module
  • $400 gets you unlimited use of all module for 120 days.
Pricing and discount options are purely arbitrary, I am just suggesting a pricing model.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

If you want to hit the Canadian market, why not get in touch with jabacus and see where you can take it together?

Mr Jabacus is already bookmarked to 60% of the market's browsers, that's instant access to the majority of the market.

sidenote: if the site starts to get serious traffic, there could be serious money to be made from the advertising alone. might be no need to charge, if you have 20,000 visitors to your site every day

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

these are very initial points as i have just finished reading the thread. will come back most likely this weekend with a more detailed post. until then, 3 quick things:
1. i believe this is a fantastic idea and the sort of thing that could really take off.
2. have you considered also targeting the european market? i guess this would result from a careful assessment of the extra works implied due to european standards vs the benefit of getting many more clients.
3. your comment on video games is spot on. i believe getting inspiration from business models outside our industry can provide quite an advantage. i will elaborate in my next post.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Sparweb)

Here I come to drop poo all over everything again.

Defecate all you like. One of the goals with this thread is to solicit exactly the kind of tough love feedback that might dissuade me from doing this.

Quote (Sparweb)

Your idea sounds more and more like what this guy is doing for aerospace: https://www.abbottaerospace.com/

There are similarities but also important differences, including:

1) I plan to do web apps rather than discrete, downloadable, spreadsheets.

2) My stuff will be as close to free as I can make but not free. I'll not be asking for donations.

This on steroids is really the best way to think of it: Link

Quote (Sparweb)

Why does he do this? It's like an extension of his resume.

Something to do with passion I suspect.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (GC_Hopi)

This idea reminds me of CivilAx or AISC tools The pain is keeping the tools up to date with the latest code.

Quote (GC_Hopi)

The programming is less of an issue. It's easy enough to hire people for that.

1) It would be different from AISC tools etc in that it will definitely be web apps rather than discrete, downloadable spreadsheets.

2) Keeping up with the code should be easy given that it will be web apps easily controlled server side.

3) I foresee no issue with the manpower associated with keeping with code updates. I plan to do every scrap of this myself as I absolutely love coding.

Quote (GC_Hopi)

The complicating factor is locating and interpreting the changes.

4) I also foresee no issue with this. As a practicing engineer, I already do this. And it's really the nexus of structural engineering and coding that I see as my sweet spot so I'm quite looking forward to managing that process personally.

Quote (GC_Hopi)

Are you planning on pricing based on the code edition? Or a one time cost to upgrade your account to the latest code?

No pricing based on code edition. I see it like this:

5) All tools kept up to date with latest code version.

6) As time marches forward, tools based on outdated codes would remain for use.

7) I'm not sure if I'd be willing to create modules based on outdated codes right at the outset. Would have to way effort vs expected usage for those.

8) Purchasing the module for any particular tool would grant you access to all available versions of that tool.

Quote (GC_Hopi)

I would be interested in the scope of this software...material, code, customization but that is another post.

9) All materials and all north american codes and standards to begin with. There will be differences but, for now, a good way to think of it would be similar to Enercalc but presented as online applications.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Yao)

Perhaps a tiered pricing model of how much you use the tool?

Thanks for the input, I'll take that under consideration. With regard to pricing, the three dominant fears out there seem to be these, depending on who's doing the talking and what their situation is:

1) Monthly subscription. Will the value justify the cost and commitment?

2) Pay per use. Is this stuff legitimate and how can I have cost certainty?

3) Tiered. Is this so complex that I'll not understand it and wind up screwed at the end of the month?

Of course, on the other side of every fear "coin" is a "hope" that can be spoken to. Better men that I have failed at this but, ideally, I would find some way to speak to peoples hopes rather than their fears. And this is part of what's steering me towards a temporally short space of time between expenditure and ROI. Every time that someone uses a tool, I want their perception to be that they're saving money, not spending it. I want to pull engineers to KootWare rather than having them feel/be pushed.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (North Civil)

If you want to hit the Canadian market, why not get in touch with jabacus and see where you can take it together? Mr Jabacus is already bookmarked to 60% of the market's browsers, that's instant access to the majority of the market.

I can't tell if you're being facetious or not but I very much like this idea. I think that strategic partnerships hold a lot of promise and I'm open to them.

Along these lines, I've also considered partnering up with the solo purveyors of some other software packages. Through my specialty engineering practice, I currently use some neat stuff developed my older guys that have to be considering retirement in the next 5-10 yrs. I'd much rather negotiate a way to roll these things into KootWare somehow than to waste all that intellectual capital by just reinventing the wheel. I'd like to name names but this would probably be to speak out of turn on a public forum. In this way, these tools could get the updating that they need and the developers could continue to get paid well into their dotage. Although, like me, it's entirely possible that what these guys want is to still be playing with their toys well into their dotage.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (KootK)

sidenote: if the site starts to get serious traffic, there could be serious money to be made from the advertising alone. might be no need to charge, if you have 20,000 visitors to your site every day

I agree. Truly, the best possible outcome from my perspective would be my customers being able to use my nifty tools for free. Who knows, maybe the "pricing" could just be a nominal fee to not have to deal with any ads. On the other hand, one does always worry about the perception of greed and "cheapness" that sometimes comes with being associated with advertising. A big part of this aspect for me is that I really just have no idea how to get from here to there yet. Working on it.

On a related note, I view advertising as a modern form of "patronage". You know, in the artistic / Medici sense of the word. And in a very tangible way, I will be viewing this as my "art". And this suggest the possibility of some other forms of patronage. Basically other entities supporting my effort in exchange for being associated with the work. Maybe:

1) Pair my offering up with those of a larger software vendor to benefit from mutual traffic generation.

2) Pair my offering up with a supplier of connection hardware etc.

Obviously, this is long shot stuff and I'd need to be sure to exert suitable control over my stuff in arrangement.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK,

Are you really going to call in Kootware? Does have a nice ring to it. I'd be more inclined to pony up for software w/ a catchy name smile.

Any particular niche of structural calcs?

How do you plan to differentiate your software from every other Joe Engineer that has ever made a structural calculation spreadsheet?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Eaglee)

I believe this is a fantastic idea and the sort of thing that could really take off.

Thanks so much Eaglee. For obvious reasons, I'm encouraging the tough love answers here. That said, some sincere encouragement feels pretty great too.

Quote (Eaglee)

have you considered also targeting the european market?

Sure. NZ & AU for sure too. Right now, I'm thinking North America first because:

1) The codes are so similar that it would be a piece of cake to develop tools for both without too much added effort.

2) I have personal knowledge of these market places and feel that I have a good sense for where genuine "needs" may exist.

3) I guy just has to start somewhere, right? More on this below.

I'd move KootWare Europe up the queue in a hurry if I had a Europe partner on board though. I think that once a basic platform is created for tool deployment and eCommerce, it would make nothing but sense to start scaling things up.

Quote (Eaglee)

your comment on video games is spot on. i believe getting inspiration from business models outside our industry can provide quite an advantage.

Thank you for that. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I really feel that I'm on to something with this as well, which is why I've held on to it so doggedly. Gotta tap into those endorphin rushes. It's hard to walk by some monkeys masturbating furiously at the zoo and not come to the conclusion that yeah, that's how people really work.

In a very real sense, I'll also be applying the quick ROI scheme to myself. Part of the reason that I'm starting with North America only is that, for the thing to "take", I'll need to pretty quickly get from zero to generating enough revenue that I'm not screwing over my family by pursuing this. I can see a very promising future on the horizon but I'll need some quick win in order to bridge the breach. Once the thing gets somewhat stable, then I can start tinkering with new markets, alternate pricing, old codes... etc.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (MotorCity)

Are you really going to call in Kootware? Does have a nice ring to it. I'd be more inclined to pony up for software w/ a catchy name.

Thanks for joining the conversation as I'd hoped that you would. WRT to name, I have no idea at this point in time and am very much willing to consider suggestions. I just went with KootWare because I had nothing else in mind and I though it might make for a light and humorous way to refer to the thing 10,000 times over the course of the thread. I tend to struggle mightily with the naming of things as was the case with naming my fledgling design firm. So much to consider:

1) Being catchy.
2) Being original.
3) Being a little meaningful.
4) Not being pretentious which I'm am inordinately sensitive to.

It's a tough circle to square really.

Quote (MotorCity)

Any particular niche of structural calcs?

Quote (MotorCity)

How do you plan to differentiate your software from every other Joe Engineer that has ever made a structural calculation spreadsheet?

I'll tackle these together and can only really speak in general terms at this time. And some things will differentiate me from only some of the competition of course. Not everything will be new to KootWare. And I will be offering a lot of the same, common tools, that others do.

1) I think that the right pricing model(s) is HUGE. Hence this thread. Unfortunately, if I get it right, it will be very easy for competitors to also adopt the innovation.

2) As I mentioned somewhere above, I truly feel that most software doesn't do enough to tailor itself to real production office needs. I want to do things like nomographs instead of one off designs, a footing design tool that does your whole schedule in one go, and things tailored for preliminary design. This is tough to explain but I kind of have a "vision" in my head for how this could be better.

3) 100% online. Fast code updates, easy deployment, usable anywhere, shareable with your friends. It would be hard to convince me that this isn't the eventual future in this space.

4) I very much intend to us this forum, KootWare's forum, and others like it, to inform me about where legitimate needs are. You know the drill. How many goddamn threads on "sistering/reinforcement" do I have to knock out of the park before I just bow to demand and make a tool and design guide for that? And there are a million things like this. How do I know if a base plate is fixed Mr. Koot...

5) Simple, clear, killer output that looks close to what you'd do yourself. I'm going to stay out of 3D rendering space etc.

6) Again, it's hard to explain but I want simple, powerful tools designed to be used flexibly and creatively by smart engineers. I feel that a lot of what's out there tries to do too much without ever doing it well enough. For the love of all that is wholly, someone must make a tool that can do a comprehensive job of wood shear wall and hold-down design for a simple framing line without requiring ten billion inputs and 3D modelling of the whole building. Another example is that I would like users to be able to create and save their own, system wide load case matrix for use in any of the tools. Yeah, I'll supply the ASCE basics but if you, as the guy with the frikin' brain, want to make some load factors negative for some reason that makes sense to only you, so be it. We at KootWare are going to assume that you're the Leonardo Da Vinci of your craft and treat you as such rather than wasting a bunch of time on our own CYA.

7) I want to develop some pre/post-processing tools for the software that you already use (ETABS/RISA/Bently). Another long story but I feel that there are a ton of opportunities to both do more powerful things and things more customized to people's work flow using existing infrastructure in this way. I don't support the final result but somebody out there made an ETABS add-on for shear walls that adjusts wall cracking stiffness based on the amount flexure in the wall. I think that stuff like that is super smart.

8) Kootware loves startups and will always and forever be looking for ways to provide tools and pricing schemes that help the little guys compete fairly. I'm fortunate in that I have a friend who's a higher up at one of the software giants. He's assured me that hardly anybody's targeting the startup market in a meaningful way.





HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I’m a guy who typically won’t update software unless:

1)The laws of physics change
2)The software no longer runs on my OS
3)Something shows up that will increase my productivity

So I have been conditioned by the one-and-done business model. That being said,
I believe Pricing Model “A” would be perfect for my needs.

Looks like you found your outer purpose, Kootk.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (XR250)

I believe Pricing Model “A” would be perfect for my needs.

Yessss... potential customer #2. Please recommend KootWare to 998 of your closest friends.

Quote (XR250)

Looks like you found your outer purpose, Kootk.

We shall see. I consider this exercise to be part of the development of a tentative business plan, the results of which will inform future decision making. I've committed to nothing.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare



Quote (KootK)

6) Again, it's hard to explain but I want simple, powerful tools designed to be used flexibly and creatively by smart engineers. I feel that a lot of what's out there tries to do too much without ever doing it well enough. For the love of all that is wholly, someone must make a tool that can do a comprehensive job of wood shear wall and hold-down design for a simple framing line without requiring ten billion inputs and 3D modelling of the whole building. Another example is that I would like users to be able to create and save their own, system wide load case matrix for use in any of the tools. Yeah, I'll supply the ASCE basics but if you, as the guy with the frikin' brain, want to make some load factors negative for some reason that makes sense to only you, so be it. We at KootWare are going to assume that you're the Leonardo Da Vinci of your craft and treat you as such rather than wasting a bunch of time on our own CYA.

I think everyone here would agree that control is important. However, simplicity in a toolset is good too. So interface becomes a big deal. Setting things up so that they're simple to use and understand while also letting you control details is going to take a lot of front end planning before you even start trying to implement. If you want consistent style and workflow through different modules, you're going to find that early decisions lock you in to future interface and workflows that you may not have considered.

Simple, powerful tools are also interesting though. It's the sort of problem that I have with my own spreadsheets versus ones I want to share with colleagues. My own spreadsheets end up doing exactly what I want in a very straightforward way. I understand the limitations and it's all great. Then I want to share them, and realize there's some edge cases. Then I try to hack those in or put a flag. Then there's some other little thing about the way I design that is built in and I have to write a couple of paragraphs of commentary. Then that kind of just keeps going. It's hard when you have to make something that's usable by any given engineer to keep it as simple as you'd like. I'm sure this can be worked around, but it's the sort of thing that you have to work out early or you're hacking stuff in forever and losing the simple. I think that happens a bunch in engineering software.

It's interesting, because it's really hard to know what the market size for this is, so trying to determine how much work and investment is worthwhile before you start is tricky. I'd be tempted to say that you should start with some straight forward test stuff for free and see how much traffic you get while you're working on the main body. If you can make one useful core module and let that sit out in the world while you're working on things you'd probably learn a lot. Even if it's not the same system you eventually decide to use, just getting an idea of how many visitors you get would be good to know.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
@TLHS:

1) Thanks for sharing your insights.

2) I agree, there will challenges in finding the right balance of flexibility and simplicity. I welcome it as an industrial engineering challenge.

3) I spent a couple of years as, effectively, a semi-professional database programmer. Juggling mountains of data and complex queries? Piece of cake. Trying to figure out the 7000 different sequences that six seemingly smart people might use to push four buttons and fill out a text box? Seemingly impossible. The GUI is hard, I get that. That said, the perfect cannot be allowed to be the enemy of the good.

4) I don't know the extent that other developers are doing this but I intend to do a lot of focus group testing for each individual tool. I'll do it here if I'm allowed to. If not, I've got a pretty good, and diverse stable of real world folks that I can reach out to. I very much see this is a collaborative process rather than "develop in a vacuum and see hot it goes".

5) I'll absolutely be doing the free tool thing as both a teaser and a way to test the market. Wind, snow, seismic, and non-cont beam design will likely start free and remain that way always. Other things to be considered case by case.

6) Yeah, I notice that nobody's taken the bait with respect to answering the "how many potential customers are there?" question. Probably nobody here knows. Certainly, I do not.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
There is a ninth thing that will differentiate KootWare from the competition, and some may well disagree with it.

9) I will treat each module as both a tool, and a vehicle for education. Whether we agree with the practice or not, it has become apparent to me that many designers actually learn a lot about design from the software they use. And, while this seems bass-ackwards in some ways, I've done some of this myself. I thought I knew prestressed concrete until I started using concise beam. Trying to sort out why a lot of the graphs looked the way that they did resulted in me really upping my game. Rather than fight this, I'm going to include educational information with the tools that teach designers how to design as well as how to use the tool. As an example, I might have a simple diaphragm design module that takes deck properties as input. At the same time, I'll provide some information about the fundamentals of diaphragm design, how and why common assumptions are made, and
common sources for where the design inputs ought to come from (some would be included by default).

If Eng-Tips has taught me anything, it's that technical mentorship is severely lacking out in the wild. One way or another, I suspect that non-colleague conduits of mentorship are going to have to fill that void. And I'd like to help.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I don't even have a feel for how many real structural design engineers there are out there. Then from that you have to narrow down the subset of people who:

-Care enough to actually try and find good tools
-Want the types of modules you're providing
-Hear about it somehow
-Don't have their own systems in place or other software tools that are 'good enough' such that learning something new makes sense
-Aren't too cheap
-Are able to actually spend money (i.e. I suspect a lot of people at medium or larger sized companies can't)
-Do the type of work where your toolsets are used enough to justify validation or getting comfortable. Using a toolset once isn't a time saver for a lot of people and it isn't a source of income for you with your business model.

I'm not sure what the number is when you filter all that stuff. There's definitely a market, it's just a question of whether you're budgeting for 5, 50, 500, 5000 or 50000 users.

From a business model standpoint, the CivilBay guy's prices are huge... but he must sell some or he wouldn't bother. He's basically the opposite business model from you. Small market, high cost.

http://asp.civilbay.com/01-main/buy.aspx

I suspect his anchor sheets are possibly along the lines of what you're talking about doing, from a presentation standpoint, but on higher level than just detailed capacity checks.

http://asp.civilbay.com/03-index/12-conc-anchor.as...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

My 2 cents:

- Definitely a market for this and a hole in the existing offerings. Obvious example is Profis. I'd guess a large % of the people in this forum use profis in place of their own xls/mathcad, in fact I'd guess just about anyone that is aware it exists uses this in place of their own tool.

- NCCEES lists 800k licenses, but that double counts people with multi state. You could probably do some quick google math and attempt to estimate # of unique se's, % that is solo/small, etc. Seems like since you're not looking to become the next amazon you can pretty quickly be assured that there is some market that satisfies your initial target (i.e. 1k users at $5 or whatever)

- Lots of talk about the applications here as it relates to pricing. I think you can basically divorce the two. Market seems to be there sufficiently for what you want. The pricing model to me seems unrelated to the engineering (assuming the product is decent) and more tied to psychology. Unfortunately it seems like a tough nut to crack, if you figure out the psychology here you can probably get rich on many ventures. Look at the number of news/magazines that once thrived getting people to pay real money for something in their mailbox and are now begging for $0.99/month and getting laughed at. There's some kind of bizarre psychology at play in all this.

- Mental exercise based on above. What if profis started asking for payment? How many people would pay vs try to rehash their old xls sheets? Say Profis wanted $2 per completed design. I'd say its near impossible to say that's not killer value compared to the time it would take you to do similar on your own yet I'm sure there's a portion of people that would not pay the $2. May have to write that portion of the market off.

- Related to the above at some point you'll have to assume you don't get some portion of the market due to their idiosyncrasies with respect to payment/money etc. There will always be people who want to buy their house in cash so they don't owe the man, then others that will mortgage to the hilt to take advantage of low rates. Can't please all the people.

- Against my own statement above about divorcing payment from application: the one thing I'd say for my own monetary nuances is that the legitimacy of the product would affect my reservations on payment. By this I don't mean the technical aspects, I'm taking for a given that this stuff works well. I mean that the site looks good, legit, different tools have the same format, navigating is easy etc. I would want to show up and have 100% of my thoughts be about which tool do I use, ok I pay by clicking here, ok here we go and I'm working away, etc.. As soon as I am thinking 'did some guy in his basement make this' my wallet tightens up, even if it's only $1 (psychology vs logic again here). I am not familiar with the civilbay stuff and it may be killer but first impression by just taking a quick look is that I won't be sending this guy my money. If the products are good and look legit I think you get the ones that like your pricing model + bend those on the fence that would prefer a different pricing model but aren't zealots about it.


RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Member Prex has an online calculation website, xcalcs, they offer two payment methods in both credits and monthly/annual subscription.

They have done something similar to what you are proposing already. You asked for European partners too, and I believe Prex is based in Europe.

https://www.xcalcs.com/cgi-bin/tutti/x3calcs.cgi?a...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

My thoughts about software as a business:
- you need to be awesome and powerful in the eyes of your users. It can either be a famous professor who wrote the code or it needs to be something which is just considered this indispensable tool by regular engineers. This is mostly marketing, and it going to be a big deal no matter what. Can you partner with a university?
- As a user, I like the buy it and own it model, with a relatively small maintenance fee.
- Network effects are a big deal, meaning scale matters. If I hire an engineer and they have to get used to my idiosyncratic software, that's expensive.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (Bookowski)

Mental exercise based on above. What if profis started asking for payment? How many people would pay vs try to rehash their old xls sheets? Say Profis wanted $2 per completed design. I'd say its near impossible to say that's not killer value compared to the time it would take you to do similar on your own yet I'm sure there's a portion of people that would not pay the $2. May have to write that portion of the market off.

funny enough they are going paid with a 'premium' version. It will design the base plate and column weld for any configuration, and handle a couple different anchor embedment's. Its also an all online portal i believe. Its fully paid starting today I believe - you could have tested our the premium version for free previously.

sorry to hi-jack...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Bookowski)

NCCEES lists 800k licenses

Thanks for tracking that down and for your thoughtful response in general. Assume (I really have no idea):

- 3 licenses per engineer.
- 1/3 of engineers in a role where they design and would use software.
- I need 1000 users min.

That leaves a pool of about 90,000 possible customers. At first blush, that sounds like a lot and is encouraging. On the flip side, though, this means that I need about 1% of that market to meet my minimum targets and 5% to be doing awesome. Perhaps it's naive to think that one should dive into a pool like this without intending to gain 5% market share. I'll confess to still being a bit intimidated by this number though.

Quote (Bookowski)

Mental exercise based on above. What if profis started asking for payment? How many people would pay vs try to rehash their old xls sheets? Say Profis wanted $2 per completed design. I'd say its near impossible to say that's not killer value compared to the time it would take you to do similar on your own yet I'm sure there's a portion of people that would not pay the $2. May have to write that portion of the market off.

Interesting. Unfortunately, my own gut reaction to this mental exercise was quite negative. That, even though I agree that it's pretty much impossible to argue with the ROI on profis. Perhaps my feelings on this are tainted a bit by my having free access to Profis in the past and now feeling as though something is being taken away from me.

Quote (Bookowski)

As soon as I am thinking 'did some guy in his basement make this' my wallet tightens up, even if it's only $1 (psychology vs logic again here).

Quote (glass99)

you need to be awesome and powerful in the eyes of your users. It can either be a famous professor who wrote the code or it needs to be something which is just considered this indispensable tool by regular engineers. This is mostly marketing, and it going to be a big deal no matter what. Can you partner with a university?

In this respect, I'm screwed and would have to abandon the segment of the market to whom this is an important trigger. I won't be teaming up with any universities and I absolutely will be a guy in the basement unless the thing scales up seriously. I agree with having a very clean and professional web presence and will do that. At the same time, though, I wouldn't be taking any additional measures to conceal what I really am. On the contrary, I'd probably be celebrating it and hoping that appealed to my target demographic.

In my opinion, this can still be made to work without being a credibility rock star. Consider the Enercalc example: Link. I believe that Enercalc is a pretty small scale thing that's been able to make a go of it. More credibilty is always better but, when I design a stud wall with their software, I'm not checking their references first or anything. And, surely, much of the credibility effect must be proportional to the complexity of the thing being designed. If I'm doing glass beams or precast sandwich panels then, yeah, seeing that a heavyweight is backing the software will mean a fair bit to me.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

The accuracy of this may be questionable but have a go at this website which is purporting to report how many companies use various softwares. The numbers seem too low to me so may be useless (only 970 companies using Risa, 1800 using etabs...?). Even if accurate not sure what it tells you but perhaps combined with other info it's worth > zero.

https://enlyft.com/tech/products/risa-3d

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Interesting. Unfortunately, my own gut reaction to this mental exercise was quite negative. That, even though I agree that it's pretty much impossible to argue with the ROI on profis.

There's where the bizarre psychology part comes in that seems near impossible to crack.

Imagine trying to rationally explain this to anyone - yet I think if you took a survey of the profis test a good percentage would bail, or at least attempt to bail, even at a $2 mark.

Wife: "Why are you still working, it's midnight"
KootK: "Making a sheet to do appendix D calcs.... it's a nightmare"
Wife: "I can't believe no one has a software for that"
KootK: "They do - but it's $2!!"
Wife: proceeds to googling divorce lawyers

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

One more request for KootWare…..please pull back the curtain and show the user line by line calcs…..no blackbox stuff.

That is, in my opinion, the best part of TEDDS (and to my knowledge, the only software that does this)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

What does profis charge? NVM They probably did some kind of market research and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
I would like to propose a third pricing model for consideration. And I'd love to hear any thoughts on it.

Speaking to the all important question of customer psychology, I'm wondering if it might be better to allow users more unpaid access even if the cost of that is allowing some users to not pay at all if they want that badly enough. This, working on the assumption that there may be little Venn diagram intersection between these two groups of people:

Group 1: those for whom clean, legal calculation documentation is not important enough that they would become paying customers. They would be willing to get around the calculation documentation question by either having none or by going to the trouble of screen capturing heavily water marked output and saving that locally.

Group 2: those for whom clean, legal calculation is important enough that they would seriously consider becoming paying customers.

Yes, I would lose some of the Group 1 folks who might have otherwise become paying customers. But, if this makes for a much more appealing use experience for the the Group 2 folks, perhaps that trade off is worthwhile.

Pricing Model C

1) You set up a JOB folder and add design files to that. All design files will be saved to the server.

2) For free, you create design files, run them, and view detailed but watermarked PDF output on screen. Screen capture as you will. Design files get saved to the JOB folder.

3) At any point in time, such as project closeout, you can choose to pay your $5 per design and, in exchange, receive your design file and clean PDF output for each design. If desired, you can use the JOB structure to a) batch print your output and/or b) pay the bill for the entire job, or any part of it, in one go. This might be nice in that you can say to yourself at this point "clean documentation for the six designs used on this $13,000 project is going to cost me $30. Is it worth it?".

4) After any design file is created, you've got six months or whatever until one of these two things happens (after a warning or two maybe):

a) You don't pay for the tool use and lose access to your design file forever. Only way to get it back is to contact the administrator.

b) You pay your $5 for the tool use and:

i) Download your clean data file and output.
ii) Your data file becomes LOCKED such that additional modifications cannot be made.
ii) Your data file is saved to the server indefinitely for future use.
iii) If you need to revisit your design after payment/closeout, you do one of two things:
iii a) pay another $5 to UNLOCK the design.
iii b) use a COPY FILE feature to make a replica of the original file that you can tinker with. You only pay if you want the modified design cleanly documented.

Ways This Could be Abused:

5) Screen capture the watermarked output, file by file, instead of paying for clean output.

6) Run a file, screen capture the input and output, come back and recreate a new file with the same input in the future if you need re-run it.

Ethics aside, a customer would effectively be paying for not having to deal with the hassle of #5 or #6.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Re: street cred: Could you get the AISC or ACI to endorse the software?

Could you offer it for free for some duration to build a fan base then incrementally introduce a subscription? Network effects are important.

Could it be ad supported? Google ads are one easy possibility, but a better one would be sponsorship from say VSL or Hilti. You could call the marketing departments of these places. Localized ads for say local steel fabricators or contractors would be a good way of leveraging the web platform. The AISC has national database of steel fabricators which you could dial.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Hard to stop all the non-paying users while still allowing any access. People are motivated and you may have to bake in a certain % of freeloaders.

I'm probably more of a hack than most, and I am never required to submit calcs, but if I had confidence something was giving me the correct result but I had to pay for the detailed output I'd probably be happy w/out the result. I don't print results for 99% of the stuff I have anyway. I'd be careful to not overestimate the percent of people that want a final print for their files. In my mind if I am confident it works then worst case scenario means I have to come back and reproduce it some day.

I've managed to do a relatively complex 1 story steel framed building entirely in risa demo version, 40 nodes. There will always be people doing this kind of thing.

Another option to consider that would allow testing but limit freeloaders is to lock a few values to very annoying defaults. Make the concrete tools fully functional but f'c = 12ksi, Fy = 40ksi, only #9 and larger bars available. That plus a watermark would annoy most enough while still allowing full testing. After that it's pay to unlock it, regardless of final print/design. Obviously once it's unlocked that means you either have a subscription or time limit though which goes against your kootk coins.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
@glass99: thanks for your contributions to this, they are appreciated.

Quote (glass99)

Could you get the AISC or ACI to endorse the software?

Honestly, I don't know. This isn't something that I've considered before, either for my endeavor or when I use existing software. I'm not suggesting that you're wrong; I just didn't have this aspect on my radar until this morning.

Quote (glass99)

Could you offer it for free for some duration to build a fan base then incrementally introduce a subscription?

I plan to do something like this. Something like:

1) A basic set of tools always free.
2) Perhaps newly introduced tools free for a spell.
3) Maybe a perpetual rotation of random tools being free. If I could do it without annoying my customer base, maybe there could be a monthly email saying "X,Y,&Z are free this month! Check 'em out". That, of course, weighted against the consequences of being a purveyor of spam.

Quote (glass99)

Could it be ad supported?

It's certainly something that I've considered. Unfortunately, I think the order of operations really goes: BUILD SOMETHING AWESOME --> GENERATE DEMONSTRABLE TRAFFIC --> SOLICIT SPONSORS. I haven't yet built anything awesome.

For fun, I might go talk to my bank about this. "So... I don't know who my customers are, how many of them exist, or what they want really. Can you float me for a couple of years while I test the market?". KootK <> Richard Branson.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Bookowski)

People are motivated and you may have to bake in a certain % of freeloaders.

I absolutely would have to bake in a certain percentage of free loaders. Under ModelC , I wouldn't even attempt to stop them.

Quote (Bookowski)

I'd be careful to not overestimate the percent of people that want a final print for their files.

Acknowledged, and thanks for this. I will, however, push a bit on this:

Quote (Bookowski)

In my mind if I am confident it works then worst case scenario means I have to come back and reproduce it some day.

I'm not sure if I conveyed this well but, under pricing ModelC, users who don't pony up would lose access to their design files, as well as being limited in printing. So they really couldn't come back to reproduce their design unless they were willing to recreate it from scratch. Do you think that this might incentivize you to pay in some instances?

I also don't submit calculations for many of my projects but, at the same time, I do retain the design files for anything important that I don't print out. In some cases, like with a big transfer beam etc, the time associated with re-entering the loads etc might represent enough of a hassle that I'd prefer not to have to do it again just to save a few bucks.

This might suggest another possible tier to the pricing scheme: send me $5 every month and I'll not delete all of the design files that you created for free. Given that I'm only wanting $5/month from my customer base anyhow, I can probably make a go of that.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

An important way these things get marketed is lunch and learn presentations. You decide you are going to drive to Boston for the day or a few days, and you line up every structural firm in town and ask if you can bring pizza and a powerpoint. If you can get the presentation accredited as PDH's, you have a better shot at your pizza being eaten.

Development and marketing will require some investment.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

There are roughly 19,000 active civil and structural engineers that live in and are licensed in Texas. Of those, 3,100 have specifically identified themselves as structural to the state board. I think you could safely use that as a lower bound for the target market in Texas.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Sweet... there's my 1000 right there if I can woo them. Probably skewed towards industrial relative to other places I'd imagine.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (MotorCity)

One more request for KootWare…..please pull back the curtain and show the user line by line calcs…..no blackbox stuff.

Agreed, this is how I would want it to be as well. Although, when one gets into the meat of it, I suspect that there are some good reasons why developers short change this at times. One thing I've wrestled with is how to handle output as it pertains to load casing. If you do it by hand, you'll probably just go detailed on the governing load case and have a few pages. Software, on the other hand, is kind of built to give you detailed output for ALL load cases which might be excessive. Taking a cue from RISA etc, I'm thinking that somewhere along the line the user would review the summary results and then select certain load cases for detailed printing. Semi-automated.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Okay, so you have to include an API structural module and a module for the design of horse hitching posts to make sure you can target the Texas market.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK - I also strongly recommend you make software that doesn't already exist. If its just like TEDD but a bit better or something, its tough. In my glass world, MEPLA was launched relatively recently as a small enterprise and is doing well bc there was no good software for glass panel analysis prior.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Obviously not the focus of most people in this thread, but Canadian TEDDs doesn't exist. Toolsets are a bit of a hack job up here. Major vendors tend to support our codes to some degree, but if you want smaller toolsets you kind of have to do your own awkward code verifications or make your own tools.

So in the home market up here, there's a hole in the solutions available.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

You know what, I lied. Canadian TEDDs does exist. I didn't at some point when I wanted it many years ago. It's more limited, but it's there.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Here's a local example of a similar pay as you go service. More of a tool for someone wanting an engineer for residential construction but not wanting to wait round for them for 5 weeks when they are free to do it. Their clients do their own design essentially and it's verified by an engineer (presumably) within 2 days, with an aim to streamlining the overall design process for the client.

But highlighting a few things, taken years to get to this point based on their testimonials, taken a lot of time/money investment to develop it, and I don't know anyone who uses it, or how much business they are doing through it.

I think to determine the pricing structure you really need to know your initial and ongoing development costs which hasn't been covered. I note there is lots of talk about it being easy, etc. I'd say it'll be harder (and more expensive) than expected, this is just life, I'm a cynical bastard, otherwise known as a realist.

Thinking back to how much it's cost in terms of time to develop some of the simpler spreadsheets I'd developed for the last place I worked some of them easily added up to 80+ hours of work (typical seismic coefficient, wind pressures, beam design type of thing). Coming up with something quick and dirty and specific for your own personal use is much less time obviously, making something generic with all the fringe cases covered and making it ready for prime time and use by the masses requires a lot more development and verification. I have no problem with awesome, but awesome can be expensive to perfect.

I half think while most other software is expensive for what it is, and some are no doubt milking it, but it can be expensive to develop and provide ongoing development and support for software.

So you need a handle on this longer term model to understand what cost to clients might be. I get the impression so far its more been about determining how much can clients be willing to part with versus how much do you need to charge them to make it work knowing your upfront and ongoing costs. Million dollar questions hinge on the level of uptake for it to be viable. You'll only get this feedback after investing quite a few dollars up front in the initial development (many times more than you might bring in while uptake is rising up to a point where you break even).

Being a cynic, leads me to believe if it were a viable model then why isn't/hasn't someone done it already? I see a lot of the more basic things you say will potentially be free as not that much of a carrot to users as they tend to have these tools already (a spreadsheet, another program, etc) that does the same thing.

Sure people will try them out, but I'm not seeing that being that attractive to me personally. I'd look at it, if you were doing something cool that I thought was a good idea, I'd look at adapting my own tools to do the same.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

That new zealand thing is terrifying. In my mind, the value of engineering is not reviewing numbers, it's holistically understanding a situation and providing a safe and economical solution. If you put the engineer in a box and don't allow them to actually gather information or review a situation then it's not engineering. They even let users qualify as site inspectors. So even the jurisdiction's inspection controls don't ensure that the engineer has fully reviewed.

Realistically, there's a bunch of engineering where practitioners already do this kind of thing. They get sent a specific request defined by someone else and spit out an answer without ever seeing the whole picture. I just don't really like it as a concept.

I'd need to look more into this, because depending on how they do the 'check' it could be more of a uniform way of providing preliminary engineering and a standardized problem definition to the engineer. That might be clever. However, from what I've seen in similar services the 'check' is likely not significant.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Im not associated with them in any way, but the engineering practice behind it are considered a reputable company here. The residential design market over here is a race to the bottom. This exemplifies this aspect I guess.

I share many of the same views as you TLHS, I think in a way 90% of it will be simple and replicate what an engineer would have done anyway, it'll be constrained to potentially conservative options. Most of the engineers doing this type of work are simple folk who can just design simply supported beams all day long. If you've got something more complex no doubt it'll be flagged for specific engineering design either as part of the online design process or during the verification process, at which point they've locked them in as a client no doubt and they already have the info they need. That parts quite cunning and a good avenue for generating work I thought.

Over here we have a standard set of solutions for non specific engineering design for wood construction. Even an architect can fully design the structure, it's bracing, beams, foundations, etc without even involving an engineer, provided it meets all the relevant criteria for doing so.

I think if it got more traction more of the engineering community would be worried over here. From what I can see some of the local councils have eaten it up though.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (glass99)

KootK - I also strongly recommend you make software that doesn't already exist.

I appreciate the advice and, without doubt, there's no better business model than the monopoly. That's not what I've got in mind however. Come hell or high water, my goal is to:

1) Not create something that is unique but, rather;

2) Attempt to do an extraordinary job of something relatively common.

Quote (Agent666)

I think to determine the pricing structure you really need to know your initial and ongoing development costs which hasn't been covered.

I see the logic in this, of course, from a business perspective. However, I can't envision any way that I'll be able to reasonably estimate my development costs with any accuracy except post-hoc, once I'm in the thick of it. If I do this, it will require a fairly substantial leap of faith. This statement of yours will be the thing and is part of why I favor a tool by tool build-up of the suite. If I can start small and guage how things are performing, I feel that I can mitigate my risk some. Although, perhaps that is to fail to go big or go home.

Quote (Agent)

You'll only get this feedback after investing quite a few dollars up front in the initial development (many times more than you might bring in while uptake is rising up to a point where you break even).

Quote (Agent666)

I'd look at it, if you were doing something cool that I thought was a good idea, I'd look at adapting my own tools to do the same.

I've anticipated this...

Quote (KootK)

I see my sweet spot as being spreadsheets that you almost certainly could make yourself but will almost never have the time to get around to actually making yourself. And I think this makes some intuitive sense. Something requiring that much effort probably only makes sense if it's being used by a larger pool of people.

Obviously, where the "I'll just do it myself" threshold is will be different for everyone based on their proclivities and situation.

Quote (Agent666)

I see a lot of the more basic things you say will potentially be free as not that much of a carrot to users as they tend to have these tools already (a spreadsheet, another program, etc) that does the same thing.

I don't entirely agree with this. And it's surely a function of my recent experience as a startup consulting firm. When you're at a large firm, you absolutely do have great tools in place and they need to be used for quality control and standardization. As a startup, however, I often find myself in need of fairly simple tools and having no hope in hell of having the time to create them myself over the timescale that I need the problem solved.

Quote (Agent)

I note there is lots of talk about it being easy, etc. I'd say it'll be harder (and more expensive) than expected, this is just life, I'm a cynical bastard, otherwise known as a realist.

I appreciate the cynicism and, frankly, that is the most important thing that I need to glean from this thread. I am not and have never been under the impression that this would be easy however. Rather, I'm attracted to the challenge, in part, because it will be hard. You'd need to know a bit more about my situation to sympathize with this however.

You're probably familiar with the concept of "flow" as it pertains to one's work. You know, that mythical state of zen wherein you're a production god and the act of producing is almost creating energy within you rather than consuming it. Structural engineering means a great deal to me but, even so, I've never really experienced any of this "flow" stuff in any significant measure while practicing structural engineering. In fact, for the first five years of my working life, I didn't even believe in "flow". I thought that it was new age BS. Then, one year, I took on a significant database development project. And then, out of nowhere, there was flow. One of the difficulties that I experienced while coding, truly, was that I would forget to eat. Hours would just melt away.

I really have no idea why coding puts me in the zone. I just know that it does. Perhaps my thinking is very mechanical in a way that suits this activity. Unfortunately for me, however, the flow tends to wear off if I'm working on something that holds no personal meaning for me. Coding a database to manage inventory at Kia's new warehouse just isn't going to get me there. Which is why I need to marry the flow that I get from coding with the meaning that I get from structural engineering somehow. In summary, the effort part isn't a great worry to me.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
With regard to the question of "what the market lacks", my primary hope stems from the fact that the market currently does not have anything to offer that I personally find satisfactory. For me, everything out there has at least one of the following deficiencies:

1) Too expensive.

2) Forces me to buy a lot when I only want a little.

3) Requires an installation on my computer which I've come to find off-putting (me thing mostly, I'm sure).

4) Does not allow me to share the tool conveniently with remote colleagues.

5) Tools not built with production office needs well considered.

6) Black boxy output.

7) Forces me to take on another monthly financial commitment which I rail against.

8) Isn't elegant enough that it brings joy to my heart to use it (like my HP48).

So I'm really making something with myself in mind as the target audience and hoping that others feel the same.

One example that irks me is that of retaining wall design software. After two decades of having options available for retaining wall design software, there still isn't anything out there for this simple task that I feel really knocks it out of the park. ASDIP seems to me to be the nearest contender at the moment. Retain Pro is powerful but not nearly elegant enough in its current incarnation for my liking.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK,

Good luck with this most worthy endeavour.

I cannot offer any suggestions regarding your various possible business models.  When I semi-retired I decided I wanted to offer downloadable spreadsheets as an interest and as a minor source of income.  But when I tried to find a relatively hacker-proof way to make spreadsheets non-pirate-able it looked all too hard, or all too expensive for a small setup like I envisaged, to cover the costs involved.

Unlike you, I was at the end of my active career.  This meant that while I would have liked a bit of income I did not need it:  the financial opportunity cost of my labour was effectively zero (not that my partner saw things that way).  I had the further advantage that each spreadsheet would be a self-contained unit, and so there was no overall "critical mass" that my endeavours would have to meet before they would be fully effective.  Thus I was able to put my offerings in the public domain, and put them there at whatever pace I chose.

Even so, I had significantly underestimated the amount of effort required to make my offerings adequately user-friendly, so that a user (coming in completely cold) could readily see what the spreadsheet would do and how to get it to do it. The offerings also need to anticipate and handle the sorts of errors that a user might make. I haven't got there yet:  I suspect that I never will get there, and as a result I will be forever be devoting time to fine-tuning things. That is fine if one's software is a "labour of love", but it needs to be anticipated and allowed for in any budgetary considerations.

The last two paragraphs of your 03Aug19@18:22 post struck a very strong chord with me.  With that sort of tail wind behind you your chances of success are massively increased.  Happy sailing.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

To echo Denial the last paragraphs in your 03Aug19@18:22 post struck a chord.

I have been following along with the updates on this thread. So as not to betray my post history I must ask Why not an open source model?

I think the true break the mold model is a set of engineering tools made by engineers for engineers governed by engineers with the option for free back stage passes to really see how things are being done and the ability to dip a toe in and help out if you can or if you want to devote the time to learn to do so.

Obviously the open source approach puts a damper on the monetary return or at least that is the immediate impression but seems to me some people are sick of the black box and shelling out hundreds/thousands for software that ultimately contains design breaking bugs, bad support, little if any updates over a previous version, etc. I think a small percentage of those people would donate a couple dollars if presented a capable alternative.

An example of a what I would call a smaller "successful" open source project is Krita there are a handful of primary passionate developers on that project. They saw a need for a program to cater to digital artist in a way that the base paint program in the KDE desktop environment didn't and have built it into a financially sustainable and successful project. Granted it took time to get there and is sustained on a donation model and some support from the KDE base.

In the US I could see AISC and the American Wood Council getting behind an open source project, I don't see ASCE, ACI, or the International Code Council having any interest in offering any support to an open source project just judging based on how those groups handle access to information currently. I think our industry, really ever industry, as a whole has a lot of "I should get mine" attitude but that is a topic for another thread.

I don't intend to derail the purpose of this discussion as I get it if you are going to devote the time and resources to this type of thing why shouldn't you get paid at least cost + a little bit for your efforts, but I am still relatively young and naive.

Edit: So that is the long way of saying my opinion on the best pricing model is "free as in beer"



Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Denial)

But when I tried to find a relatively hacker-proof way to make spreadsheets non-pirate-able it looked all too hard, or all too expensive for a small setup like I envisaged, to cover the costs involved.

Thank you so much for your input. I suppose that I should have mentioned this as one of the reasons that I'm targeting a web based application delivery platform. I really know of no robust way to make tools pirate-proof otherwise. Much, much more substantial entities than I seem to have had little success at that. RISA's probably been the most successful in this regard.

Quote (Denial)

The last two paragraphs of your 03Aug19@18:22 post struck a very strong chord with me.

Birds of a feather in this respect it would seem.

Quote (Denial)

Even so, I had significantly underestimated the amount of effort required to make my offerings adequately...

I've become loosely familiar with what you've done over the years. You've taken upon yourself to provide tools for some very complex problems. Personal finance issues aside, I feel that it's right to look at the scale of such efforts and ask how much usage justifies that effort? When a thing of beauty and power is built by a man's labor, societal justice demands that the benefit that society derives from that thing be in proportion to the effort and skill that went into the creation of it. Money Schmoney. I worry about this for your tools as I will for mine.

If I recall correctly, you've got an exceptional tool that analyzes near-arbitrary concrete beam-column sections for biaxial moment. How many useful "runs" does that need to see out in the wild before use justifies creation? It would take more than one engineer satisfying his own project needs, certainly. I'd argue that even firm wide use by single firm would be not be enough. So, in this respect, I feel that such tools must be successfully distributed for the bargain to have been a fair one.

Quote (Denial)

I suspect that I never will get there, and as a result I will be forever be devoting time to fine-tuning things.

As I mentioned somewhere above, one of my goals is to act as a sort of repository for tools already developed by others. And I've no real motive there other than to see that the creations of other like minded folks not fade away into the ether unnecessarily. It just seems too much of a waste to let that happen and to reinvent things that have already been invented. So, please, if your labor of love someday ceases to be so, find a way to bequeath your stuff to somebody. Given enough time, my platform might be able to serve that function but, even if not, find some new home for your creations. Hopefully a home that returns some modest royalties at least.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

So as not to betray my post history I must ask Why not an open source model?

Your vision of where this would end up is, indeed, a Utopian dream for the structural engineering community. And I would absolutely celebrate it coming to fruition. However, it represents a dystopian nightmare for someone like me because:

1) It means that coding would be a distributed activity shared among us all and, therefore;

2) No one individual would be able to afford to dedicate large swaths of their time to the task as I would wish to.

So your community dream makes it impossible for me to live out my personal one.

Quote (Celt83)

I get it if you are going to devote the time and resources to this type of thing why shouldn't you get paid at least cost + a little bit for your efforts

I'd state this differently. It won't be the case that I'll feel that I'm owed anything for my efforts. Rather, I will simply recognize that, without revenue, I'll be unable to continue spending my time how I wish to spend it. You're right, everyone does want to "get theirs". And "mine" will be being able to spend big chunks of time on this adventure.

If I do this, I strongly suspect that two things will be true:

1) There is a significant risk that I'll fail to create something sustainable and will have to abandon the adventure or;

2) If I succeed, it will still likely be to my personal detriment financially relative to remaining focused on providing traditional engineering services.

I'm under no illusions about #2 whatsoever.


HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

So as not to betray my post history I must ask Why not an open source model?

One might also ask why I don't just stick with my day job and satisfy my coding itch on the side through an open source model? And maybe I will. However, in several years of trying, I've managed to contribute nothing at all to any of the options available for this. Work keeps me very busy and, when I've got spare time, I find myself wanting to spend it with my family or exercising. In this respect, perhaps I'm all talk and really do not want this as badly as I say. This is of no consequence at the end of the day however. All that is of consequence, for me, is the takeaway that this model hasn't resulted in me making progress so far. So, until my situation changes, the model will need to change.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

So your community dream makes it impossible for me to live out my personal one.

That makes quite a bit of sense, had not looked at it from that perspective. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Your last post is also relatable, can see how a tangible business model would be a stronger motivator and easier to swallow on the home front vs sacrificing family time to make some free stuff for some folks on the internet.


Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Sure. Don't get the impression that I don't support your vision though. If I don't do mine, that's surely where I'll be looking to get my kicks. And, if I do do mine, that will probably actually leave me in a better position to make part-time contributions to your yours.

It's to consider this at a whole other level but I've also been spending some time thinking about other macro-threats to the business model. Extinction level events.

1) A group from a developing country latches on to the same idea and blows me out of the water. It's not as though the big software vendors aren't already utilizing this.

2) Your communal, open source model blossoms and obviates the need for what I propose. Good for the world; bad for KootK.

3) Artificial intelligence gets there first and utterly obliterates the need for any of us to create structural software. While I do believe that we're a ways away from having AI be able to do any real structural engineering, the software aspect strikes me as low hanging fruit. After all, computer codes and building codes are very much in the wheelhouse of fairly rudimentary AI's. I could see an industrial designer (GUI) paired up with an AI that can be asked "Loads. Dimensions. Wall please?" and that's pretty much the end of it. It's always dangerous to try to compete at things that machines do well.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (bookowski)

I'm probably more of a hack than most, and I am never required to submit calcs, but if I had confidence something was giving me the correct result but I had to pay for the detailed output I'd probably be happy w/out the result. I don't print results for 99% of the stuff I have anyway. I'd be careful to not overestimate the percent of people that want a final print for their files. In my mind if I am confident it works then worst case scenario means I have to come back and reproduce it some day.

I've managed to do a relatively complex 1 story steel framed building entirely in risa demo version, 40 nodes. There will always be people doing this kind of thing.

LOL, sounds like we operate the same. Most of my calcs are done on a calculator and never get written down.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I would argue that the community model still could potentially achieve the same result in possibly less time. Let's say you currently can devote 10 hr/wk to the effort, and let's say that a fully operational software suite will take 2500 hrs, so 250 wks = 4.8-ish years. Let's say you can get 10 people to devote 3 hr/wk each with 50% efficiency, so that's 15 hr/week. And let's say your efficiency goes down to 8 hr/wk because of coordination, etc. That still comes out to 23 hr/wk, instead of 10 hr/wk, so 2.1-ish yr

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

One of the things about open source licenses is you can do whatever you want with the code, including commercialize it. MakerBot was developed as open source hardware and became private then sold out to Stratasys for ~$100MM in 2012. The underlying code for NASTRAN is still open source.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

First off, kudos to you on trying to make a valuable tool for the general community. I'm a strong believer that any good business needs to have more of a purpose than making money; in your case, providing good tools for small business SEs. The Scrooge McDucks of the world, with dollar-sign eyes, and ears that hear nothing but cash register bells, generally come up with pretty garbage ideas. The business models that we all hate are thanks to them.

I will admit that personally, I find paying for things painful. I therefore would rather "rip the bandaid off quick" by paying a big chunk annually, or even buying a perpetual license with annual support. The more often I have to pay, the more stress I feel, the more my hairline races toward my back, and the less I enjoy my bike ride home. For that reason, I am not sure that I am your ideal customer (shame, really).

I was initially super excited to see this, as I believe that you are a fellow canuck. I have not used Enercalc or its similar offerings myself, but if I am not mistaken they are largely based on 'murican codes and are therefore of limited use to me without significant tinkering and modification. Having something that is rooted in our Canadian codes/standards would be lovely. The present Canadian offerings, to the best of my knowledge, are SAFI and TEKLA TEDDS. Neither solution is complete for my needs, and the pricing seems prohibitive considering that I would not have a complete software package to lean on. Sure, I could use some 'murican stuff, but I don't care to imagine a practice review or court case where I have to trot out non-code-compliant calculations and start defending them.

Based on the above, I suspect the most difficult proposition for you may be creating a sufficiently large library of tools/calculators that folks like me can say "hey, that's mostly a complete library of calculators that I can lean on". If you have less than that, a lot of us may be inclined to just continue using tweaked spreadsheets, Mathcad, and old-fashioned pen on paper. Getting people to change behaviour is incredibly difficult, so you'll need to offer something pretty complete and attractive to get them to move over to you. I once read a book called Zero to One by Peter Thiel, and if my memory is right, he said that a new product has to be 10x as good as its competitors to get the market to switch.

Worst case, perhaps you can develop some really solid and robust calculators that don't already exist on the market, and one of the "big guys" would buy your tools to incorporate into their own... that pipe dream might keep you coding deep into the night when you start questioning the philosophies of your business venture? I will keep tuned into this, I am interested to see where it goes!

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Craig_H)

For that reason, I am not sure that I am your ideal customer (shame, really).

Don't be so sure. Through the course of this discussion, it's become apparent that I'll probably have to offer a monthly/annual option in addition to whatever else I do.

Quote (Craig_H)

I was initially super excited to see this, as I believe that you are a fellow canuck.

Stay excited please. I am indeed a fellow Canuck and that segment of the market would, of course, be especially dear to me. I'll get down in the muck and fight for my US market share but I fully expect to be able to make a big dent in the Canadian market just by virtue of a) my dedication to it and b) my having a fairly good sense of where the holes are.

Quote (Craig_H)

I once read a book called Zero to One by Peter Thiel, and if my memory is right, he said that a new product has to be 10x as good as its competitors to get the market to switch.

Let's hope that's hyperbole. I don't see any of my offerings being any better than about 1.5X the best versions of what's already out there. That's part of why I'm hoping to pair it with an attractive pricing model, smooth online delivery, and uncommon technical support.

Quote (Craig_H)

Based on the above, I suspect the most difficult proposition for you may be creating a sufficiently large library of tools/calculators that folks like me can say "hey, that's mostly a complete library of calculators that I can lean on".

I see the logic in this but, for better or worse, this isn't going to be me. Functionally, I just don't see it being possible for me to be sidelined financially for years while I get fifty tools up and running. And, in part, this is why I'm considering the pricing strategies that I am. I see myself needing to proceed as follows, if I can pull it off:

1) Get the basics of an eCommerce site set up with sort of a "template" for creating new tools.

2) Create a handful of high quality free tools to give folks trolling the web for free tools a reason to check me out.

3) Add individual tools that are so intuitive and well done that they can stand alone as product, absent the suite. This runs contrary to what others have suggested with respect to needing a suite of tools that looks and feels consistent. Certainly, I'll do that as the suite builds up. But I feel that I'll need to build up user trust one tool at a time.

4) Gradually built up the suite.

I know, #3 is a very tall order. However, if I can't pull that off, I think that I'm probably sunk.

As I mentioned previously, much of what informs me here are my own needs as a startup SE. My workload is all over the place and, often, I'd kill for a clean, simple tool to help me fly through something that I know would take me real time by hand (time I just don't have). Maybe I need to submit a calc package on something that I ball parked in a few hours or lock down a shear wall layout by the end of the day. Always, always I'm working with blocks of time no larger than an hour or two.

Another situation that is tough for me as a startup SE is utilizing help effectively. I'm often working with very junior engineers, engineers trained in different industries, or engineers working remotely. I would like it very much if there were standardized, easy to verify tools that I could have these people use so that I could quickly check their work. At the same time though, I can't afford to buy all of these people annual licenses for various toys. If I could check these guys' KootWare output in five minutes rather than their atrocious hand calcs in thirty minutes, that right there would justify the $5 many times over.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I'm not/wouldn't be overly concerned about the consistency of the tools, being the online system your going for a lot of the consistency will come from your web stylesheet which can evolve as you create more things and apply globally to all the tools without too much headache, you could essentially start with Bootstrap and put minimal extra effort in and have something with better visuals than a lot of stuff currently out there. As with most things investing some decent time on your front end, templates, styling, etc. will pay dividends as you progress thru the actual tool sets.

I think your idea to start with a few free tools and continue individual tool development makes sense, also allows you to put all your available effort into 1 thing at a time vs try to spread it between multiple tools. I'd plan for the income to mirror how substantial the tool set is though, may be awhile before you capture the audience so to speak.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Let's hope that's hyperbole. I don't see any of my offerings being any better than about 1.5X the best versions of what's already out there.
I agree that competing with the "big guys" is not a good avenue to go down. I'd say you need to be 10x as good as my ramshackle collection of spreadsheets, Mathcad templates, and one-of calculations from past jobs that I can regurgitate and re-run for the current purpose. Based on the amount of time that most of the self-employed folks here have at their disposal, I'd say that most of our spreadsheets are bound to suck pretty hard. I know that mine, at least, vary in robustness and require a good handle on their limitations in order to not screw up!

Quote (KootK)

I would like it very much if there were standardized, easy to verify tools that I could have these people use so that I could quickly check their work.
Good documentation of calculations seems to be a virtue. Laziness in hand-calculations often ends up causing code clause references to be neglected, explanations of assumptions to be omitted, FBDs to go missing, and all of a sudden the calculations are like some ancient language scratched into a rock - it takes an expert a good deal of effort to decode them! I'd say this is one of the ways you become 10x as good as your "competition", which is chicken scratch on coffee-stained graph paper.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Option B sounds great, but you'd probably never manage to get a penny out of me... In the case of retaining walls (for example), everyone probably just develops their standard designs at your cost.

I don't like the idea of a limited number of runs in option A, but perhaps not a problem if it's as generous as I'm reading it. Depends on how 'visible' the results are. It's nice to run a half-dozen cases to see how sensitive results are to inputs. If all you see is pass/fail until you pay, option A wouldn't be for me unless the # runs was quite high. Option A with only a time limit would be fine. I saw you mentioned that limiting the number of IP addresses per account is beyond your current capability, but probably necessary.

Re your dislike of monthly subscription: if you're hell-bent on almost giving it away, maybe monthly subscription that's only charged for the months the user actually uses the tools? Or 30 day block rather than calendar month. Monthly probably more palatable to medium-large companies and why rule them out even if not the target market?

Worth pondering why you never used that awesome software you signed up for. Your customers will be the same.



RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (steveh49)

In the case of retaining walls (for example), everyone probably just develops their standard designs at your cost.

Yes, and that would be the case with many of the tools specifically tailored to design office use. Batch footing designs, batch stud wall designs etc. And I'd do nothing to prevent it other than to provide the tool at a cost so low that I think some folks would not consider it worth the effort to bother. If someone really wants to sit down and spend their time replicating the CRSI manual retaining wall tables on my dime, so be it.

Quote (steveh49)

but perhaps not a problem if it's as generous as I'm reading it.

One way or another, it would be set generously enough that it would never feel like paying for the design twice. That would be the goal.

Quote (steve49)

Monthly probably more palatable to medium-large companies and why rule them out even if not the target market?

Yeah, through the course of this discussion, it's become clear that monthly will have to be ONE of the payment models available to those who want it.

Quote (steveh49)

Worth pondering why you never used that awesome software you signed up for. Your customers will be the same.

That's easy. It went like this:

1) Signed up at $20/month.

2) Used it twice right away and got what I felt was $10 worth of value out of it.

3) Three months and $60 passed without my using it again because I simply didn't have the need.

4) I felt as though I paid $60 for $10 in value and terminated my subscription.

5) I went back to look into it again later and it was gone.

If I could have used it $5/run, I'd probably still be using it and might even have become so addicted that it did amount to $20/month.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I wouldn't consider a "per run" setup. Defining a "run" was necessary in this thread. Life's too complicated to go back and define something that -- prior to KootWare -- I understood. I also tend to iterate God only knows how many times and there's no way I'm keeping up with how many runs I've used up. Also, I don't want to change the way I think and operate to conserve runs.

Option B doesn't work for me because I can't verify the program without a detailed printout. I might go for that option if the free printouts are detailed but have a "Not for Commercial Use" watermark on them until money has changed hands. This option can't have per run pricing, though, because I'd be cringing as I start to pay and think "oh crap, I ran that module 100 times."

You might consider looking into how Qnect charges for their connection design software usage; it seems OK to me.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I am setting up a software for calculation online (this is not structural analysis, instead it is oriented towards thermodynamic calculations / niche application) and right now I am defining a pricing model too. Some few things I want to share in regard to my own experience so far with this (insane) venture:

- Developing a software takes a HUGE amount of time, you have no idea. If you sub-contract the task to a professional developer(s) it is going to relieve you from a lot of tasks but it will cost you HUGE amount of money (something from 20 to 60 USD/hour and per developer). Moreover, a LOT of hand holding may be required to explain to the developer what you exactly want. They are programmers at the end and you are technical; except if they are really really smart, they usually have not a single clue of what you are talking about and the worse is that they say "yeah...got the idea"; when you check back a few days later the progress, it is big surprises and rework and frustration. If you prepare specifications, it takes time but you know..people do not read specification anymore nowadays. By read, I mean READ. So hand holding is very time consuming.
If you think of the time you have to invest in all this, this is really something stolen from the quality time you would have spent otherwise playing around / educating your child. Since the project has not taken off yet, what you are spending by now is spent for FREE. I agree with what IRStuff mentioned above: we talk 2~4 years development even for something of small scale, provided there is industrial/commercial purpose at the end.

- Testing the software: I took this one easily too. You have no idea how people are reluctant to invest any effort in helping you testing your stuff. I really mean zero efforts. If you provide incentives they usually are not interested in something that is not proven yet. Some people are nice and out of courtesy they can take a look and give you valuable hints, but it is RARE. So you are on your own.

- Pricing model (the topic): I got in touch with a competitor who is selling a software with features similar to what I intend to provide. I managed to get a quote for their software. They sell a perpetual license for +20000 USD per seat (!). I could hardly imagine a user was going to pay all that money, but apparently they do. When I look back at the pricing model I was going to set up - considering equivalent services - I am really out of words. I do not even need to tell how much they charge "per run". It is outrageous (not for the user, but for me not being able to capture that market share / value!).

I think that putting the mark up very high is not always a bad strategy. The price conveys a signal to the customer of the software quality. If the customer has deep pockets and buys the message, then it can work. For me this is either suicidal or a food for thought.

Until further notice, the alternative pricing model I want to implement is as follows:
- Monthly subscription or perpetual license
- Possible license with limited number of runs. I defined a "run" as follow: When the user saves data, the run counter is armed. When the user hits run, the counter is incremented. This means that within a project that basically does not involve changed input (nothing to save), user can make as many runs as they want. Somehow they are charged for testing new inputs.

- Finding Clients: For now, I do not have any prospective client and building a client base from scratch is VERY HARD. Advertisement is expensive (you could try and check what google could offer). Try also social network, still expensive. I am not saying I give up, but it is tough. For a niche application, you need all planets perfectly aligned so that the right expert pops up, knows the value of the software, professionally needs the feature(s) and is willing to give it a shot. Then you get an impulse. Not easy.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

KootWare: now FREE with the purchase of this T-shirt!!

Ok, if no one else is going to say it, I will.

"KootWear by KootWare" or better yet "KootWear X KootWare" and even better "Koot(Wear X Ware)"

And definitely do not misplace the T-shirt and have to inquire where it is.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I suggest a payment scheme should be $5.00 per month for each main program group, with unlimited input modifications. Probably this will develop in time into numerous program groups. Some software is commercially out there already, but usually expensive, so there is a market for this also.

Costs have to be realistic to what individual engineers and small offices are prepared to pay.

Developers will never get rich in this scheme, but if they enjoy programming, and problem solving, many developers will just do it for their own satisfactions and earn something each month for their efforts.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I see the main market appeal to me as having access to a design tool that both teaches me how to perform the needed calculations and provides the speed/accuracy of a software solution. There are so many unique design issues we encounter that we have not encountered before. Having isolated tools that we can use and learn from is a big plus especially for those of us who are a 1 or 2 person firm. Large firms have multiple people to bounce ideas and concepts off of and have a more diverse work experience to pull from.

Calculating one complex connection that you have never done before is expensive in the learning curve for a hand-calc. If you decide to write your own program for that isolated connection, you will spend over $500 in time (at your billable rate). So Koot's pricing scheme is probably worth it from the Al A Carte menu for sure. I can live without the graphics but would want the printed calcs for both education and project documentation. If I had one process or isolated design issue I needed to resolve that I was not familiar with, I would easily pay $50 for software that would both design it and teach me the basics of the design direction. We spend $50 in billable time just internet searching the issue.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
@271828: thanks for your input.

Quote (271828)

I also tend to iterate God only knows how many times and there's no way I'm keeping up with how many runs I've used up. Also, I don't want to change the way I think and operate to conserve runs.

1) This outcome would be precluded. I would track usage and adjust as necessary to ensure that 99% of the time: one run = one design (and often more) including requisite iteration.

Quote (271828)

Defining a "run" was necessary in this thread. Life's too complicated to go back and define something that -- prior to KootWare -- I understood.

2) I don't think that there's any reason to get hung up on semantics. Per #1, I may wind up effectively charging "per design" rather than per run, and presenting it that way. I'm a decent communicator in my native language. One way or another, I'll find a way to present the pricing model(s) such that they are easily understood.

Quote (271828)

Option B doesn't work for me because I can't verify the program without a detailed printout.

This would seem to be easily resolved by one or both of these options:

3) I provide detailed output for the verification designs that I provide.

4) If a customer wants to run a few of their own verification designs, I let them. Or run them for them.

Given that the crux of this strategy would be exchanging payment for detailed output, I can't see giving away the detailed output for free even with a watermark. Additionally, this would lead to folks saving the detailed output for their own records and truly only paying for designs getting submitted to other parties. I feel that this would shrink my revenue pool unacceptably.

Quote (271828)

Option B .... this option can't have per run pricing, though, because I'd be cringing as I start to pay and think "oh crap, I ran that module 100 times."

I think that this would be a non-issue as, with option B, you'd have unlimited runs and only need to pay once your design was finalized and ready to be exported for documentation purposes. That was really the motivation for considering this option: infinite iteration easily policed (by not policing it other than the detailed output).

Quote (271828)

You might consider looking into how Qnect charges for their connection design software usage; it seems OK to me.

I will consider it and thank you very much for the suggestion. You're right, there seem to be many parallels with what I want to do and, therefore, much to learn. Additionally, more good reasons for me to probably stay away from steel connection design except perhaps, as free, loss-leader tools for very simple cases.


HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (rotw)

I am setting up a software for calculation online...

Thank you for your valuable input rotw. Some additional thoughts:

1) It sounds as though you are creating something pretty fancy that may not already exist elsewhere. In that space, per glass99's previous comments, you've basically got a monopoly of sorts and I'd expect pricing (low) and effort (high) to reflect that. My situation is much different. I'll be creating fairly simple tools that do in fact already exist in various forms. Something along the lines of this on steroids: www.jabacus.com. As such, I expect effort to be a bit less and pricing to be much lower.

2) I do actually intend to create something of my own that is fancy that doesn't already exist. I want to make a graphics bases strut and tie modelling tool of such ease of use as does not currently exist to my knowledge. This would be something that I do at the end of my adventure, however, rather than the beginning.

I've little doubt that I will indeed find myself underestimating the time required for this. That said, I feel as though it may not be as bad as others are thinking. As a test case, how long do we think it would take for me to accomplish this:

1) Delivery platform much like this: www.jabacus.com

2) I create three simple tools. Say wind, snow, earthquake modules.

3) I generate some basic verification examples for the above.

I feel as though this could be comfortably accomplished in six months or less of concerted effort. After which, I feel that I could probably generate a new, simple tool every two to three weeks. If anybody disagrees, I would really like to hear about it.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (PT99)

I suggest a payment scheme should be $5.00 per month for each main program group, with unlimited input modifications.

Thanks for your contribution to this PT99. I'd be happy to charge $5 per month for the whole thing, and would prefer that actually. The difficulty for me is policing that. Unless I get into standalone programs and hardware keys etc, I risk having the entire eastern seaboard using a single, $5 Kootware subscription. And I don't see monthly usage frequency being such that "only one person in the pool at a time" would serve as much of an impediment to this. It may well be that there's a technological solution to this that I simply haven't thought of yet.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

...I feel as though this could be comfortably accomplished in six months or less of concerted effort. ...
Something like Jabacus you could probably knock out in a couple weekends, just speaking to the calculation pages, the subscription/payment system could take several months to make sure you have all the security issues covered.

Do you know what programming language your shooting for, that decisions may also impact the time till launch?

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (ron247)

"KootWear by KootWare"

Ha! I hadn't even thought of this myself. Given the input that I've received in this thread so far, it sounds as though starting my own clothing line might actually be an easier business venture to take on.

Quote (Ron247)

I see the main market appeal to me as having access to a design tool that both teaches me how to perform the needed calculations and provides the speed/accuracy of a software solution.

Thank you soooo much for that statement and, really, that entire post. It's pretty much made my day to hear someone else view the value proposition of this similar to how I see it. Your comments have also helped me to crystallize my own understanding of the "vision":

1) The product will be a symbiotic combination of software design tools and educational content. The educational content will help to sell the design tools and the design tools will provide a platform for presenting educational content. The educational part is really my second favorite thing so this is bloody perfect.

2) This business model is essentially a version of business to business (B2B) consulting. As such, I need to be not just a seller of faceless "product" but, rather, a peripheral business partner to the folks that will be my clients. I think that #1 is a big step in the right direction towards accomplishing this goal.

3) All that I really need from a pricing model, is for it to eliminate pricing model aversion as a reason for potential customers to stay away. I don't really care what the model is so long as folks are willing to give Kootware a try and the use experience leaves them feeling that ROI was favorable.

Quote (ron247)

I can live without the graphics but would want the printed calcs for both education and project documentation

This is probably the most commonly voiced recommendation in this thread so far: detailed output. I get it, I agree with it, and I'm going to provide it. That said, based on my past programming experiences, I can see why this is probably a difficult thing for developers. Generating detailed, dynamic reports can be very onerous. The beauty of software is that it can generate 7000 pages of output in a second. But, then, the "ugly" of software is that you may be stuck with 7000 pages of output. It seems to me that I'll probably need to rope in some kind of 3rd party reporting tool. If anyone has suggestions for that, I would like to hear them.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

Do you know what programming language your shooting for, that decisions may also impact the time till launch?

I'm still trying to sort this out and welcome any recommendations. It's tempting to start with VB.net because I know it fairly well but, at the same time, I'd much rather invest some time learning new tricks than make poor choices in this regard.

I've found some job ads for developers at companies that do similar things. Based on those, there seems to be a common suite of languages required (java, jquery, python...) and, unfortunately for me, none is VB.net.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

some kind of 3rd party reporting tool. If anyone has suggestions for that, I would like to hear them.

ReportLab
LaTeX

neither are intuitive but in my research into creating output that isn't an un-formatted txt file each google dive into the type of technical output I would want eventually lands me at either of their doorsteps.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

But, then, the "ugly" of software is that you may be stuck with 7000 pages of output.

Some of the more popular programs I wrote for myself, that later I gave to friends of mine had to do with taking 7,000 pages of output and condensing it to something I needed (2 or 3 pages). They were usually very short programs that iterated the output files. I called STAAD years ago (1994 or so) and asked if they could change Finite Element to where you input a panel or wall section name and then that panel was then subdivided into the FE mesh. I wanted to get the max/min Mx, Fy etc for each wall section for both my written documentation and for manual checks. STAAD told me not to worry, STAAD would print all the values. I would then say, "That is the problem, I do not want all the values, just some". We seesawed back and forth, me saying I do not want them, they saying it gives me all of them so need for what I was asking for.

I wrote a brief Fortran program that allowed me to create a FE panel based on element numbers, scanned their output for the elements and printed only what I was asking for. It found the Max and Min of each force type (My, Fz etc), printed which element had the Max & Min and then printed the others forces simultaneously present at that element. Now, most programs have more refined output but not all of them.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

take this all with a grain of salt since I'm clearly biased on the language front and so far have only done a couple months of my own research on web development stuff. Here's what I've found:
Most everything I've looked at follows the Model-View_Controller setup

working thru some early tutorials you need working knowledge in the following, along with your chosen language:
HTML
CSS
Javascript
likely some form of database language MySQL, Access, etc.
language and controller specific formatting for when the controller spits back results

Languages that seemed popular:
Ruby on Rails
Python with Django or Flask
PHP
ASP.net
Node.js
Angular
Java/Javascript (I lumped them here but don't think that's really the case in the wild think they can actually be independent back end languages)

I chose Python on the desktop side because with a couple minutes of googling was able to find a ton of pre-built stuff to extend it's use to what I was trying to program and a lot of tutorials to build off of. SciPy and NumPy being the big ones.

Some helpful free tools:
Chart.js - can give you some nice charts assuming you don't want anything complicated like dual axis plotting.
Plotly - another charting library has some slick realtime controls.
Bootstrap - free quick CSS/HTML/Javascript templating, can save you some time on getting one style applied uniformly over the site



Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (kootk)

I want to make a graphics bases strut and tie modelling tool of such ease of use as does not currently exist to my knowledge.

CAST by University of Illinois?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (celt83)

take this all with a grain of salt...

Thanks for that. Expect me to tap your expertise in much greater depth when the time comes.

Quote (Agent666)

CAST by University of Illinois?

Yes, as a model T to my eventual Maserati GranTurismo. I hope to take it out of the academic exploration zone and into the production engineering zone.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

If you can get a strut and tie tool up and running that works well... I would open up my pocket book for sure.

S&T

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK,
In regard to your pricing approach, what if you provide some modules for free and charge for other modules. But the module you charge will be much higher than 5$/month.
For example you provide 10 modules.
[A]-> 5 modules are free and show excellent features and extremely useful function.
[B]-> 5 modules are described to user (maybe with a demo) and provide advanced calculation features; this is where you put all your know how and differentiate from the competition. Experience with [A] + Demo with [B] would leave the user frustrated they cannot get full access to [B].
That is the part you charge at high mark up (a between 50 to 100$/month)
What do you think?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
@rotw:

- there will definitely be some free tools for various reasons.

- in this space, I think that even $50/month/tool would be far too much. $50/month would be closer to the "full access to all tools" number I think.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (SNT)

If you can get a strut and tie tool up and running that works well... I am would open up my pocket book for sure.

Coming to an internet near you...2032.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Koot, you need to advance that schedule by 12-13 years. winky smile

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Coming to an internet near you...2032.
You know some of us plan on retiring at some point.

I know I haven't chimed in on this, I'm unfortunately not a decision maker at my firm when it comes to spending money on software, however I have converted almost 100% of the designers to Jabacus from doing everything the old fashioned way, so if I can get a bunch of people on board with the free stuff, I can probably liberate some funds for teh modules.

My personal preference if it were my money would be pricing model C.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (winelandv)

Koot, you need to advance that schedule by 12-13 years.

Quote (Jayrod12)

You know some of us plan on retiring at some point.

The STM thing will be much, much harder than the rest. To do it as I think it needs to be done, will require significant graphical system development the likes of which I currently have no idea how to do. As such, it's at the back of the line for development although I'll probably chip away at it continuously. Also, even as cool as I think this would be, I really suspect that the market for such an STM tool would be quite small.

Quote (jayrod12)

I have converted almost 100% of the designers to Jabacus from doing everything the old fashioned way, so if I can get a bunch of people on board with the free stuff, I can probably liberate some funds for teh modules.

Even just word of mouth help on getting folks familiar with my versions of the same, free tools would be an enormous help when the time comes.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Also, even as cool as I think this would be, I really suspect that the market for such an STM tool would be quite small.

The lack of STM analysis/design, IMO, stems from the lack of a good tool. For the most part, designing a beam is straightforward with shears and moments. If that analysis wasn't easy and useful, we'd probably design beams some other way. If you create a good tool, maybe you really kick-start the STM analysis movement.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Through the course of this discussion, my thoughts have coalesced around a new pricing model that is really just a slight, but important, modification of Pricing Model A. I'll still offer a monthly subscription to the entire suite for those that want that but the model described below would be the one that I build around and attempt to encourage.

Pricing Model D

1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.

2) Purchase unlimited run, 30 day access to the tool that you're interested in for $5. Let's say that it's the retaining wall module.

3) No auto-recurring payment BS unless you specifically ask for it.

4) If you want to share your account login with with the entire world such that everybody gets to design some retaining walls on KootK's dime for 30 days on the same $5, go nuts.

My Thinking

A) Very simple and easy to understand.

B) No real worries about the need for design iteration unless one feels that they can't be done in 30 days. Or 60 days etc as makes sense.

C) Because pricing is tool by tool, I think that someone attempting to game the system would have to go to rather a lot of trouble to accomplish that. You'd basically need to coordinate with a whole bunch of friends also seeking to design retaining walls in the same 30 day period. I feel that the hassle associated with doing this to save a couple of dollars would dissuade 95% of my target customer base from bothering in the first place. Instead, I think that my target user would mostly just share the account with their immediate colleagues until all of the retaining walls for a particular project had been designed. And that's actually how I want KootWare to be used. If you happen to have three projects on the go all needing retaining walls in a given month, and the cost per project drops to $1.67, all the more power to you. If you're happy, KootK's happy.

What do you guys think? We like this??

I had originally approached this in a miserly fashion assuming that I needed to make abuse impossible. And that strategy required some unfortunately sacrifices. Now I see that I only have to make abuse improbable. And that makes some interesting things possible.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)


1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.
[…]
4) If you want to share your account login with with the entire world such that everybody gets to design some retaining walls on KootK's dime for 30 days on the same $5, go nuts.

Could we get a guest access login instead? I'm maybe a touch paranoid, but I'm not down with people logging in and having cc access, even if it's just to purchase more Koot modules.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (winelandv)

Could we get a guest access login instead? I'm maybe a touch paranoid, but I'm not down with people logging in and having cc access, even if it's just to purchase more Koot modules.

Maybe not. This might be just the way to prevent gross abuse. Credit card exposure forces one to only share their account with people that they trust a fair bit.

The particular form of abuse that I'd like to prevent would be this:

1) Somebody signs up for all of the modules, every month.

2) That somebody provides or sells guest access to the whole world.

3) Now the whole world can use Kootware and I'm only bringing in $300/month ($5/month x all tools).

4) The only limitation on abuse is that only one user can use Kootware at one time. Unfortunately, I don't see this being much of a deterrent for Kootware as the whole thing will be built around highly intermittent use to begin with.

Yeah, this may frustrate some managers who would like to be able to be able to provide tool access to employees without giving them the ability to spend on the credit card. But, then, maybe that's a reasonable trade-off for some gross abuse deterrent.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)


Pricing Model D


My Thinking

This is probably the best pricing scheme I've read yet. I was in the camp preferring a monthly subscription, but if you can offer the month of unlimited use for a fair price I think you'll get some of us on board for the a la carte system. I've demoed software before that had certain values locked down. I would rather pay for the trial period and get full capabilities to see if the software is right for me. Sounds like your pricing model will allow that.

I agree with point C as well. If the price is fair, the software is good, and it's easy to pay, etc I think most people are going to just pay for it when they need it rather than put forth the effort to game the system.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (bootlegend)

This is probably the best pricing scheme I've read yet.

Thanks so much for your input. Just what I need.

Quote (bootlegend)

I agree with point C as well. If the price is fair, the software is good, and it's easy to pay, etc I think most people are going to just pay for it when they need it rather than put forth the effort to game the system.

Excellent. It's a relief to hear that I might not be nuts for considering this.

In reflecting upon Pricing Model D, maybe I can provide guest access as winelandv suggested. The gross abuse model that I outlined in my last post is probably a pretty unlikely outcome as well. Additionally, I'm sure that there's some way that I can roughly track the locations at which the software is being used. If things appear to be on the up and up, I'd leave the guest access feature in place as I think that would be great other than the abuse potential. If one account appears to be bouncing around from Pittsburgh to Cairo to Prague, I'll lock it down.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I like model D.

To address the guest account thing I think it'd be better to limit it to an admin account with purchase power and company user accounts tied to email address domains so if company B buys Kootware Retain Master then the admin registers the other users on Kootware as user account with a technical limit that any user account must have the same email address domain as the admin account, admin@companyB.com and user@companyB.com.

edit:
potential side benefit of doing it this way is you can get all kinds of metrics on the use and can share the per company metrics with the admin accounts.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Yeah having someone administer sub-accounts is good, or lock access to company IP's, or some other method. Otherwise you get users who leave the company have free use if they still have a valid login....

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

Master then the admin registers the other users on Kootware as user account with a technical limit that any user account must have the same email address domain as the admin account, admin@companyB.com and user@companyB.com.

That's brilliant, thank you.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Agent666)

Yeah having someone administer sub-accounts is good, or lock access to company IP's, or some other method. Otherwise you get users who leave the company have free use if they still have a valid login....

Great point.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
After all that has been discussed, it's almost a bit sad that this might just boil down to:

Monthly, per module, no auto-renew.

Although, it is usually the case that the most elegent solution winds up also being simple.

I suppose that I shouldn't get too excited jut yet though. Only three nods for Model D so far. I assume that windlandv is more or less on board pending the guest access refinement.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I mean, depending on the pricing, I might just subscribe for myself. I find myself open to most of the pricing models, just because I think this is a worthy endeavor.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
I'm getting way ahead of myself with this but it's just...so...much...fun.

Now that the monthly and al a carte options have pretty much collapsed into a single thing, I feel that I can see in my head how purchasing would be structured in terms of the GUI. There would be three options:

1) Buy single tool access right from that tool.

2) Set up an auto renew thing as shown in the first clip below.

3) Set up a batch, one time purchase thing as shown in the second clip below.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I feel you may be colourblind and need to work on your colour scheme.... bigglasses (I realise it's just a mock-up, but my eyes are almost bleeding here)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Well, I'm sorry for any damage to your eyes. Just a concept thrown together as quickly as I could.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

If you spend as much time developing your business model and software as you do posting on eng-tips you will surely be filthy rich.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I, too, am fascinated by your strut and tie idea. I have been playing with my own re-invention of the typical auto suspension geometry analysis combined with structural analysis of the parts. I think this is similar, or adaptable to your stm. Its doable, but my hang up is joining Autocad and excel.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (WillisV)

.If you spend as much time developing your business model and software as you do posting on eng-tips you will surely be filthy rich.

That's the idea. Spend my time on things that I care about intensely and stop counting hours.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Buggar)

I, too, am fascinated by your strut and tie idea.

Somewhat counterintuitively, I see the key to my STM thing being intentional imprecision. Something like this:

1) Import a DXF PDF of the thing to be modeled, the load points, and the reaction points. Trace it.

2) Run a generic elastic FEM on the model just to give the user an idea of where the load paths "want" to be.

3) Draw a free form, imprecise truss over the model to serve as the STM.

4) Draw in nodes free form and imprecise. Triangles etc that you stretch and move the vertices of.

5) As #3 and #4 happen, the STM forces, strut checks, and nodal checks update in real time.

6) Some kind of nifty metric is calculated that quantifies how closely STM load paths mimic FEM load paths.

It is my belief that most STM software attempts fall short in forcing the user to create precise models which, given the complexity involved at the nodes, takes forever and is tedious. With the method outlined above, I suspect that an engineer can quickly come up with a rough-ish model suitable for design purposes in very little time. And there, I hope, will lie the power of it.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK - Star for that response and your fire for creation - best of luck.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I bet there is plenty of open source machine learning algorithms that can optimise that crude truss model as well, or suggest better alternative arrangements through a optimisation/generative design process. I mean programs like Galapagos or Dynamo/Refinery and others already exists for optimising and optioneering structural form based on constraints. Why not the same for Strut and tie! As its simply drilling down further looking inside a member to track the most efficient loadpath (in very simplified terms). So I perhaps naively think some kind of machine learning could be used with suitable constraints like max strut angles, ties parallel to member faces, automatically generating nodal zones, etc to generate an acceptable model.

A bit similar to some of the stuff you see on youtube where they use Autodesk Fusion 360 (I think) to optimise a given part for where the load wants to go to get rid of unnecessary material.

Making a S+T software that allows you to drag and drop nodes around in real time is something I feel the industry is actually missing, and I'd probably part with some money if I had a need from time to time. I'm surprised someone in the world hasn't thought of it before, we've got 101 analysis programs for frames and walls, but nothing really compelling in the S+T space. For me strut and tie is basically a hand calculation exercise for the most part, and choosing the 'right' model requires experience about how it is really going to work as you've noted.

Unfortunately tools that seem to come out of Universities (like CAST) that I mentioned, do suffer from the fact that the user interfaces can be very clunky. I suspect though you'd be charging more than $5 a pop for that given the steeper development time.

Just thinking outside the box, one other option that could be worth considering is the use of a kickstarter campaign or similar, get some people in on the ground floor to fund it. Offer them free use for a few years or something or discounted rate for a few hundred dollars or something per tool/set of tools. They fully or partially fund the initial development which you get done by people in the know how. Then once developed, new subscribers follow your chosen pricing model, if you can provide the value for the initial investment then it might be an attractive option for some companies/individuals. Maybe once you have the initial tools, then people can see the benefit of the approach and/or quality they might be getting. Could be a bigger ask to get people to invest with nothing in the pipeline though at the beginning.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Agent666 - we do that kind of optimization mostly in a Strand7 API. You can do some fun things with beam elements with custom scripts. The off the shelf optimization software is overly geared to mechanical engineering applications.

The Rhino environment is perhaps a good one for low budget software development too bc you start with a bunch of CAD tools, and a platform to sell plugins. What % of structural engineers have Rhino? I know we use it a lot.

Agree that KootWare should generate the struts and ties for you.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (winelandv)

If you create a good tool, maybe you really kick-start the STM analysis movement.

That's an interesting point and you may well be right. Chicken and egg.

Quote (glass99)

Agree that KootWare should generate the struts and ties for you.

I actually disagree. I feel that to go in the direction of genetic optimization algorithms etc is to slip back into making the thing an academic science experiment rather than a practitioner's production tool. Additionally, virtually every STM that I've done for real world work ended up being configured to suit what I knew would be a practical reinforcing layout, even if that wasn't 100% optimal from a material or load path efficiency perspective.

A routine to auto suggest the struts and ties could surely be added to the base feature set. But I would consider that a "for sport" addition rather than a mission critical one. And, really, the elastic FEM that I proposed running pre-STM-build should cover a fair bit this functionality. Any designer unable to translate the FEM stresses into a reasonable model probably shouldn't be using the tool anyhow.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Any designer unable to translate the FEM stresses into a reasonable model probably shouldn't be using the tool anyhow.
That could be said for almost every tool ever created.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (jayrod12)

That could be said for almost every tool ever created.

And has been in this context. Don't worry, I don't expect everyone to have read every post of this lengthy thread.

Quote (KootK)

1) Tools that are simple but clean and powerful and meant to be used by the competent. I don't want the software to be an engineer for you. I want the software to enable the snot out of your being a great engineer. It's an arsenal that you combine, with your own tools, into a whole. It's never trying to BE the whole.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I just read through this entire thread and must honestly say that I am incredibly excited about how this thing could turn out! (regardless of pricing model).

For me, Option D makes the most sense. Where do I sign up!

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Kootk,
Regarding your response, I think your stm idea is hot and I will play with my suspension analysis to see if it can dance to your tune. I guess an angled control arm can emulate a concrete strut or tie. And they both have to be moveable and measurable. But ACI has rules I don't have to follow!
Gawd, I love this stuff.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Sandman12)

I just read through this entire thread...

That in itself is an impressive feat. I couldn't even get my wife to read the whole thing. And she's a structural engineer who's retirement plans probably hinge on the outcome of this.

Quote (Sandman21)

and must honestly say that I am incredibly excited about how this thing could turn out! (regardless of pricing model).

Thank you very much for your input and the encouragement. I wish that there were presently a way to sign up. You know, while I've got a little market place momentum going here. But, alas, it could be a while. I'm gradually assembling a cadre of folks that I'll be using as focus group however. You know, what tools should be created, how work flow should be arranged, look and feel. If anybody wants in on that action, I'd certainly welcome the help.

Quote (BUGGAR)

I think your stm idea is hot and I will play with my suspension analysis to see if it can dance to your tune.

Fun. Let me know if there's anything that I can do to help.

Quote (Buggar)

But ACI has rules I don't have to follow!

That's kind of the irony of STM. The ACI checks that one needs to apply are dirt simple. Almost laughably so. It's just all the labor that goes into the geometry of the setup that makes it so laborious.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

"geometry of the setup that makes it so laborious." AGREED!
I don't want to detract from this post. Would a side post on ACAD or Excel be appropriate to address this?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (BUGGAR)

I don't want to detract from this post. Would a side post on ACAD or Excel be appropriate to address this?

I think so. Feel free to post a link to that thread in this one if you wish.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Apologies for not getting in on this sooner but I've been busy both with work and with my own side-endevours (taking my commercial pilot checkride Tuesday, going to try to become a part-time flight instructor on the side).

Overall I highly support this for many reasons. First, small scale engineering tasks are BY FAR the most time consuming when you think about it. This is why engineers create our spreadsheets and mathcad files so we can automate that weld calculation or that development length calculation. When I get a new project that has a new reoccurring task I google for spreadsheets or open source software that might automate it once I've got the hang of the calculations. If none exist then I run the mental cost-benefit analysis of either 1) buying software that does it (if it exists) 2) making my own spreadsheets to tackle it, or 3) just keep running hand calcs.

(1) Is by far the best long-term but is often overkill for smaller engineering tasks and often the software is very expenses because it tries to do so much with that software. This is great for a structural design suite like RISA or ETABS but sucks when all I want is to design a bolted connection ~10 times a month. Thus, I'd be more than happy to pay for an option between (1) and (2) especially if it was something that I could see a large suite of tools but only pay for what I need.

In short, I'd pay for these and the cost would be almost entirely erased by added profitability. I also hadn't thought about your concept of learning from the software since I actively try to avoid doing this. That said; it would be quite nice if this was a practical thing to do and would not only help people use your software effectively but I'd likely use your software more just to learn new things.

I've read through most of this and I was similarly struggling with the pricing systems proposed until I got to the option (D) scheme. This seems more than ideal. I'd offer the following addition to it:

Pricing Model D, Rev 1

1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.

2) Each module allows one day for free.

3) Purchase semi-unlimited runs, 30 day access to the tool that you're interested in for $5. Let's say that it's the retaining wall module. Semi-unlimited being something like 300 runs or something high where the casual user would never run into the limit.

4) If someone hits the limit then they can purchase unlimited runs for $20 for the next 30 days.

5) No auto-recurring payment BS unless you specifically ask for it.

6) If you want to share your account login with with the entire world such that everybody gets to design some retaining walls on KootK's dime for 30 days on the same $5, go nuts.

This does a number of things. Gives great flexibility and utility for the small-firm, the target audience. It provides a way to limit abuse where someone at a mega-firm buys one copy for $5 and then has 5,000 engineers around the world using it. It provides an additional tier of income so large and medium size firms pay you a bit more (they can easily afford it and the value and utility are still there).

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL, CO) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Thanks for the input TME.

With regard to usage at larger companies, it strikes me that I'll be doing something counter-intuitive with respect to strategy. Normally, you'd probably want to get users at smaller firms and then hope to be able to grow with them as they turn into large firms. I kinda see the opposite happening. I'd love to see some folks develop an addiction to Kootware at larger firms and then, when they decide to step out on their own, they take Kootware with them out of familiarity and an appreciation for the value proposition.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I haven't read through all of the other responses, but since you are just looking for feedback I figured I would give mine to your original proposal. I don't like pricing option A or B because they both seem like pay per use to me and I also like to be able to see the details of the analysis as I'm working through it. And that is my biggest issue with some of the software out there now, there isn't enough transparency in the actual calculations. I'm sort of opposed to pay per use because it feels like its adding cost to every project at that point. And per use per module starts to feel like nickel and diming me.
I don't have as much issue with the yearly subscription model, as long as there are continuous updates. In fact I would be more inclined to think a one time perpetual license thing might still work if its just based on a single code cycle. Maybe that doesn't work as well with the online software though. For instance, here is your ASCE 7-16 load calculator, its a one time $500 purchase, but you get to keep using it and it will be updated as necessary until the ASCE 7-22 version comes out.
I'm also not completely sold on the online software concept though due to the potential for data loss and data storage issues. But maybe that's just a workflow/process issue that requires some adjustment.

After reading a little I found model D. Not so bad.
Is there not anyway to lock an online program to a single user or computer. Maybe not otherwise netflix would have done it I guess.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Thanks for your input GWoodPE. I'd not expect any new comers to read through the entire thing.

Quote (GWoodPE)

After reading a little I found model D. Not so bad.

I'm glad you found that. It evolved as a result of many other people echoing concerns very similar to yours. Namely:

1) Nobody wants to feel nickel and dimed.

2) Everyone seems to have a high level of concern for quality, detailed output.

Quote (GWoodPE)

Is there not anyway to lock an online program to a single user or computer. Maybe not otherwise netflix would have done it I guess.

If there is a way, I don't know of it. But I am hardly an expert. You're point about Netflix is salient though.

I wouldn't expect everyone to agree with the direction in which I'm headed here but it is very much my intention to set things up in a somewhat unconventional way. Specifically:

1) No recurring fees unless desired.

2) No hardware locks etc.

3) Al a carte tool availability.

4) Encouraged account sharing.

I don't need -- or expect -- to have the entire market. I just need a little corner of it populated by the like minded.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

@KootK:
attached is an html template file I thru together after working thru various tutorials over my own venture down this path, including some graphs. Also put some comments in there as to where I think the back end script/program would need to populate the information. May not be what your going for as far as look/feel, hopefully a little helpful for you in getting a head start on some things.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Not sure how applicable this is, but if you are looking for another gob of market research look into the "plugin" market for digital audio production. This whole discussion reminds me of the pros/cons of different plugin developer's fees. And the intent of the project (ie. have a high value bundle for low cost) has similarities too.


...but I can't recall if I have ever solved that problem yet.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I just found this and tbh don't have time right now to read through all this.

I personally like monthly even though you said it's out of the question. The thing is, $30/month doesn't seem like much. I choose to spend a small amount, and I'm done worrying about money.

OTOH, $5 per use, even if it's cheaper, FEELS like a lot more because I have to agonize over spending a fee and then later another fee, and then another and another, and oh but how many times will I need to do this?

Like all you can eat feels better than going and paying for every bite even if paying per bit is cheaper.

www.hellodwell.design

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (AaronMcD)

I just found this and tbh don't have time right now to read through all this.

- Thank you so much for your input.

- At 178 comments, nobody has time to read through it all. No worries there.

- I've asked the mods here if they'll let me modify the original post so that commentors only have to read that to know what they need to know. We'll see if that takes.

- Through hard earned consensus, we've pretty much arrived at a new model "D" that definitely seems to the winner. I've repeated it below.

- In a very real way, I will have to just accept that whatever pricing model I choose won't be for everybody.

Quote (AaronMcD)

OTOH, $5 per use, even if it's cheaper, FEELS like a lot more because I have to agonize over spending a fee and then later another fee, and then another and another, and oh but how many times will I need to do this?

Part way through the thread, I had to clarify what I meant by a "run" as it pertained to pay per use. Rather than pay per single run of the software, it was pay for the lesser of 20 runs or 60 days usage. The idea being that it's really "pay for completed design" of an element or group of elements rather than paying for each individual run of the program. Maybe this would improve things and maybe not. Regardless, I think that you'll like option D better.

With Pricing Model D, shown below, it's basically pay for a month's use of each tool. The end. If you want it as recurring payment, so be it. If you want multiple tools purchased at once and recurring, that works too.

For someone with your preferences, I would see this panning out as this:

1) Identify the subset of available tools that are useful to you.

2) Set up a monthly subscription to the al a carte suite of tools that you've chosen for yourself.

How do you like that?

Pricing Model D

1) Create an account at KootWare International and add a credit card, paypal etc.

2) Purchase unlimited run, 30 day access to the tool that you're interested in for $5. Let's say that it's the retaining wall module.

3) No auto-recurring payment BS unless you specifically ask for it.

4) If you want to share your account login with with the entire world such that everybody gets to design some retaining walls on KootK's dime for 30 days on the same $5, go nuts

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Celt83)

attached is an html template file I thru together after working thru various tutorials over my own venture down this path

That is helpful, thank you. Would you have the wherewithal to deliver similar apps via web pages? If so, stuff like your strap beam tool would be very close to what I'd like to accomplish.

Quote (Celt83)

May not be what your going for as far as look/feel, hopefully a little helpful for you in getting a head start on some things.

As far as look and feel goes, I've identified a target: ASDIP. While there is a great deal that I intended to do very differently compared to ASDIP, I very much like where that guy has taken things with regard to the look and feel of the website, the look and feel of the apps, and the quality of the reporting.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (KootK)

Would you have the wherewithal to deliver similar apps via web pages?
Not yet, have a long weekend coming up with some time earmarked for an attempt at something small scale.

The ASDIP programs look nice, from the screenshots and videos I like the level of documentation and the graphics are simple but informative.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

So... for anyone still paying attention, I could also use some feedback on potential product naming. Specifically, "KootWare" is too goofy for me to actually use it right? That's what my gut's telling me even though I want KootWare pretty badly. 99% of the customer pool would not be familiar with this discussion and would probably be put off by the name I'm guessing. Koot is too close to kook I think. And not many would want a crazy eccentric supplying their design software, even if that would be fairly accurate.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Koot is a mildly derogatory term of sorts in this part of the world, like "that old koot is crazy as batshit". Just saying, you're already there bigsmile.

I got some ideas of names from online name generators when naming some software offerings to fellow workmates, just throw in a word(s) you want to use and it'll present 1001 iterations and suggestions. But kootware sounded fine to me all along.

I see its still avaliable, meaning someone can steal your thunder if you do go for your original suggestion.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

ElectronicNomograph.com

Honestly, for branding it's likely better to just say something clear. Unfortunately, the obvious ones are all long gone as product names (StruCalc, iStruct, SECalc, EngCalc, DesignCalc, StructTool, WebStructures, StructWare, etc)

Something like StructDC for "Structural Design Calculations" or throw your actual name or initials in there <XX>Struct or <XX>Calc or your existing business name with a suffix. You want something someone will immediately be able to tie to calculations or structural engineering. You also want it to sound solid for people submitting calcs to third parties.






RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (TLHS)

You also want it to sound solid for people submitting calcs to third parties.

This is probably the biggest reason not to do "KootWare"; despite it being a really fun sounding name.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL, CO) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

NextGenCalcs
EigenCalcs
Top Out
White Box
STMagic
Development!=Anchorage(Calc)

----
just call me Lo.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Not sure if your ideal pricing model still involves limited-output freeware? If so, brand the free outputs as KootWare, put all sorts of old-koot-esque (or kooky) branding on it, and that way nobody abuses the free stuff (few would have the audacity to trot it out in front of a third party). Channel your heritage and give it some West-Kootenays flair. Then brand the paid version very boring and solemn-serious. As much as I enjoy shaking my fist at the established way of doing things, I guess that having a serious-sounding name may have a bearing on long-term success.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

E.g Kootware, where the output is entirely in comic sans?

----
just call me Lo.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Somebody)

Stuff that got deleted because we're excessively PC these days

Yeah, I would indeed like to the grand wizard of structural engineering. Needs to be a bit more subtle though. Maybe ClanCalc

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (THLS)

You also want it to sound solid for people submitting calcs to third parties.

Quote (TME)

This is probably the biggest reason not to do "KootWare"; despite it being a really fun sounding name.

I'll probably not go with KootWare out of fear that potential customers not in on the joke would be put off by it's silliness. However, I do not consider reception by 3rd party reviewers to be an issue because of a particular way in which I intend to differentiate my offering.

I intend to set things up such that, when users print output, it will not contain any information that would tie the calculation back to my software. Calcs will display my customers' logos, if they wish it, but not my logo (unless they wish it). And this isn't an attempt on my part to dodge responsibility for the quality of the software or its output. Rather, this is a philosophical issue for me.

While I/Kootware will own the black/white box that generated the calculation output, once that output has been generated, I will consider the design to be the sole property, and sole product, of the engineer responsible for the design. I realize that some software vendors intentionally court relationships with AHJ reviews etc. And I realize that there may be some marketing advantages to doing that. That isn't where I want to position Kootware however. To the extent that trust exists, I want trust to be developed between AHJ reviewers and the engineers whose work they review. I really do not want to encourage AHJ reviewers to come to trust Kootware, regardless of whether or not that might benefit me as the developer/purveyor.

I feel that encouraging reviewers to trust any software is to steer things back in the unhealthy direction of black-box-ed-ness. I'd be happy to supply AHJ reviewers with free copies to use to check calculations, done in Kootware or any other software. But I do not want to encourage AHJ reviewers to trust KootWare output simply because it's Kootware output.

Trust the man, not the machine.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Agent666)

Koot is a mildly derogatory term of sorts in this part of the world, like "that old koot is crazy as batshit".

Come to think of it, the same is true in this part of the world. So much for hastily derived abbreviations...

Quote (Craig_H)

Not sure if your ideal pricing model still involves limited-output freeware?

It does indeed. That said, my current thinking is that I will not take any measures to punish/dissuade free tool abuse. Through the course of this thread, I've come to believe that the only way deliver the kind of product that I want to deliver is to place some trust in my user base. There's just no way to lock it all up tight without making serious compromises. And while it may be wishful thinking, I want to deliver a product with such a low cost and great value proposition that nobody likely to ever be a paying customer would avoid becoming one solely on account of having to pay the nominal fees that I'd be charging. We'll see...

Quote (Craig_H)

Channel your heritage and give it some West-Kootenays flair.

West Kootenays? Ew. Whatever gave you the impression that I was one of those hillbillies? East Kootenay flair.

Quote (Craig_H)

Then brand the paid version very boring and solemn-serious. As much as I enjoy shaking my fist at the established way of doing things, I guess that having a serious-sounding name may have a bearing on long-term success.

#MeToo. I originally wanted my regular engineering firm name to be TacocaT Consulting Engineers until cooler heads talked me down from that. I still wonder though... Maybe being the real me, as opposed to the stodgy / white washed me, would have zoned me in on the kind of clients that I really want to the exclusion to the kind that I could do without. Or maybe I'd sink like a stone, who's to say. I feel that the Kootware venture is quite a bit less sensitive to serious-sounding-ness than a regular consulting firm. And that makes it that much harder to not be Kootware.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Lomarandil)


Development!=Anchorage(Calc)

Humor aside, you've given me what I consider to be the top contender for a serious name. White Box! White Box Online Structural Design (THLS' point). White Box OSD.

The concern most often expressed in this thread has been making the software non-black-boxy. So this... speaks directly to that in a somewhat subtle and clever way.

When I named my consulting firm, I read the book below which I highly recommend. White box checks many off the boxes presented in that book including:

1) Simple and memorable.

2) Combined with "online structural design", says plenty about the offering.

3) Subtly conveys meaning with regard to what will be a major selling point with potential customers.

As an added bonus, the name would help to keep me honest with regard to not letting myself drift towards black boxiness, as coders are prone to doing. I can't very well be White Box and turn out some decidedly black box software. Too much potential for ridicule.




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RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I love it; that's a fantastic name. I agree that it's a highly marketable name and, after some googling, I'm shocked nobody is using it yet. I'd dive all over that.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL, CO) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

White boxxx seems fairly popular though!?

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Damn it!! It had occurred to me that it might conjure tawdry/racist imagery but I figured the odds of that would be vanishinlg low. But there we go. At least it's tasteful erotica intended for a female audience.

Boxwhite actually has perfect domain name availability (www.boxwhite.com). $3k up front to buy it though. Would a switch Boxwhite sacrifice too much with regard to catchiness?

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I'd prefer Whitebox with just the single X. boxwhite does not have the same ring.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Yeah, whitebox; I've found many an interesting website via typos and it had zero impact on my perception of the brand/product.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL, CO) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

The site linked below is doing something vaguely similar what you want to do. You may have reviewed many sites like it, it's one I'm constantly running into when I'm searching process eng calc related material. I looked at this person's pricing structure and I think it's reasonable - maybe it matches the model that most people have evinced preference to on this thread?

https://www.lmnoeng.com/

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

This is the part of the Imnoeng product I think best:
"Any of the calculations on our website can be purchased and run as a "stand-alone" calculation on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. The program will run in the Windows environment."

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

That website is like stepping back in time to how the internet was in 1999.

And upon checking the copyright, it appears he started in 1998.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (jari001)

The site linked below is doing something vaguely similar what you want to do.

Thanks for the suggestion. At this point, any and all versions of P4P design calculators are of interest to me. They give a better sense of what is possible/common. An interesting outcome here is that I may publish a list of all of the online tools available on my own product webpage for the benefit of others. I suspect that I'll have a pretty comprehensive list compiled when all is said and done. All that said, there are some important differences between LMNO and what I've got in mind:

1) On average, I'll be offering much more powerful individual tools.

2) I hope to produce something vastly more visually appealing per windelandv's latest.

3) There'll be no downloadable, perpetual license tool for me.

4) I'll provide an "all tools" pricing option but my dominant model will be al a carte, monthly, $5-ish, subscription to individual tools.

Quote (jari001)

I looked at this person's pricing structure and I think it's reasonable - maybe it matches the model that most people have evinced preference to on this thread?

I don't believe that it is the model that most people have envisioned. That said, I should let other speak for themselves. So the model is reproduced below for comment. It strikes me as both complex and expensive given the sophistication levels of the handful of tools that I checked out. This isn't my space in terms of expertise though. Maybe for someone working in that area, they might see themselves using dozens of these tools over the course of a project which would justify the cost.


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RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (BUGGAR)

This is the part of the Imnoeng product I think best: "Any of the calculations on our website can be purchased and run as a "stand-alone" calculation on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. The program will run in the Windows environment."

I've no doubt that there will always be a cadre of people out there for whom the perpetual license option will be king. I respect that but intend to make no attempt to appease that segment of the market. Some reasons why:

1) Given the complexity of the tools I hope to develop, having all of them have a downloadable, stand alone analog would add a great deal to my development overhead.

2) My sense is that online subscription models are the future. Certainly, based on the direction that other vendors seem to be heading, that's a commonly held belief.

3) I've yet to identify anyone who really seems to be making a serious go of the "sell spreadsheets" model. Firstly, it seems to be an almost impossible task for small time developers to figure out how to do this without having their products jail broken and freely distributed to the world at large. Secondly, the price point required to have it make sense to lose a long term subscribing customer in favor of a perpetual license would be too high I suspect. Just spit-balling it, I'd want several hundred dollars for each standalone, perpetual license sale of my tools that I'd normally be offering at $5/month. And, frankly, I don't see that any of my individual tool would be worth hundreds of dollars to any rational consumer given competing alternatives.



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RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Jumping back to the strut and tie discussion for a second, I randomly came across this today which looks kind of similar to what you were aiming for with the optimisation FEA stuff backing up the selection of a valid model for an analysis. May be of some interest to people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13s_4xfsATk&fe...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Anyone who hasn't checked out the STM software that Agent666 linked to really should. Not only is it the elastic FEM concept that I'd had in mind, it's pretty much the whole kit & kabboodle. I'd almost be willing to pay the $1500 just to have my own copy to tinker with. I'm striking the STM project off of the Kootware list until further notice. I probably wasn't going to get to it for a couple of decades anyhow.

The software even seems to be able to auto-generate the nodes well which is something that I wasn't even sure could be programmed reliably. Go Korea! It's even a pretty gorgeous interface. And they have a 3D version which I considered entirely out of reach for me.



HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I've been using the older program CAST for what little strut and tie I do (not sure if you can get it anymore; was a free download from a university) but AStrutTie is definitely a cool program. If I ever get a bit S&T project again I would definitely pick it up.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL, CO) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

There is a article on the STM method used by Dr. Yun in the ASCE. This method would seem to have simplified the creation of the model (and programming aspect) by using a uniform nodal system. I would be curious if any are using this?



While the payment part of this discussion is important, I think it is more important what solutions are provided. If you develop some well thought out solutions to unique problems like I am sure you can, I will pay a lot more than if it is the same old generic solutions you can find on any number of sites.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK: If you were going to attempt an evolutionary structural optimization (ESO) package, it would possibly be easiest as an add on to an existing FE package like SAP or Strand7. We wrote an API in Strand7 that does ESO in a couple of days for a project, and using the tabular input you can iterate with ESO within an hour. Its really quite fun - you get all these Michell trusses emerging algorithmically.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK,

Will there be something like KootCommunity, a sort of basic forum where your registered users will exchange and share their knowledge?

As corollary, will it be a community discussing KootWare topics only or will it be enlarged to any structural engineering topic in other to leverage on the concentration of knowledge that yields from the user's base presence ?

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning dance in the rain.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Back to the pay model, there was a time when we charged computer use time to the client. I don't see why I couldn't just pass any subscription costs to the client. Off course we do this for hard costs like renting diving equipment, etc. Does anybody still do this with computers? The pay model could be whatever the client prefers.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

BUGGAR, it happens indirectly being more wrapped up into overall fees I think spread over all projects, fees cover overheads such as software etc and profit expected.

Asking an engineer to record time spent on a particular software so it can be charged directly back to a particular project... good luck on that, I had enough trouble in the cube farm just remembering what I worked on and the actual hours each week when I got around to doing my actual timesheets...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

I was thinking you would "sub" the license to the client who would be billed directly. Such as when you have a Geotech on the team but his contract is with the owner. We have done this where the owner is responsible for the BIM model, with the consultants as contributors.
(let the owner get tangled up in licensing)

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (Brad805)

There is a article on the STM method used by Dr. Yun in the ASCE. This method would seem to have simplified the creation of the model (and programming aspect) by using a uniform nodal system. I would be curious if any are using this?

This is the first that I've heard of it. I'm curious but not yet curious enough to purchase the paper...

Quote (Brad805)

While the payment part of this discussion is important, I think it is more important what solutions are provided. If you develop some well thought out solutions to unique problems like I am sure you can, I will pay a lot more than if it is the same old generic solutions you can find on any number of sites.

1) I agree, developing the right tools is critical. Got any great suggestions? I've got a running list of about thirty ideas right now and am perpetually on the hunt for more. I'm hoping to eventually assemble a steering committee of sorts that I can reach out to to help me generate and vet ideas. As much as possible, I'd like the development of KootWare to be something of a communal activity. If anyone following this thread would be interested in participating in something like this, I'd very very much like to hear from them.

2) I actually see the pricing scheme and the tool development as being intimately related. My perception of things is that most of my would be competitors are assuming a model like this:

a) Engineers will procure access to at least one, full FEM package (ETABS, RISA, BENTLEY, etc).
b) Engineers will supplement(a) with one, comprehensive, element design software package Enercalc, Vitruvious, etc).

I think that the second part of that model forces an all or nothing kind of thinking where anybody entering that space feels compelled to prove the full complement of "same old generic solutions" as you mentioned. By offering a la carte tool purchasing, I'm hoping to avoid this trap and set things up such that potential customers could use Kootware for the handful of things that they find truly useful without having to make an all or nothing decision to abandon their other tools in favor of KootWare. In this way, I hope to be able to make non-generic, powerful tools without being saddled with the burden of having to re-develop all of the generic, simple stuff that's already out there.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (glass99)

KootK: If you were going to attempt an evolutionary structural optimization (ESO) package, it would possibly be easiest as an add on to an existing FE package like SAP or Strand7. We wrote an API in Strand7 that does ESO in a couple of days for a project, and using the tabular input you can iterate with ESO within an hour. Its really quite fun - you get all these Michell trusses emerging algorithmically
.

That's a great idea and I agree, it sounds like great fun. Somewhere above, I think that I mentioned that one avenue I'd like to explore is developing tools meant to piggyback upon FEM software database output. So somewhat similar. If you can spare the time, I'd love to hear a little more about your project. I've never known any of the evolutionary algorithm stuff to rear it's head in the context of an actual project. It usually just academic / sport stuff.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (rotw)

Will there be something like KootCommunity, a sort of basic forum where your registered users will exchange and share their knowledge?

KootCommunity... I like that. There will absolutely be something like that as it's a big part of the overall vision for a few reasons:

1) It's just something that I'd love to do from a personal perspective.

2) It would add a dimension of user support that I suspect would add a great deal of value to the KootWare product.

3) It would add a dimension of user education that I suspect would add a great deal of value to the KootWare product. Somewhere above, somebody else alluded to this as well.

Quote (rotw)

As corollary, will it be a community discussing KootWare topics only or will it be enlarged to any structural engineering topic in other to leverage on the concentration of knowledge that yields from the user's base presence ?

It would be the latter: a space to discuss all things structural while still providing an avenue to discuss KootWare usage, bugs, and future development specifically.

A couple of additional thoughts on this:

4) Ideally, I'd not have the KootWare forum operating in competition with the other two forums that I participate in (Eng-Tips & SimpliEngineerng). I intend to reach out to those groups and see if some kind of symbiotic relationship can be established such that I'd be using existing forums for this purpose. It's hard to say how well that outreach would be received however. The forums do currently provide space for users to discuss specific software packages but it's not like I've got the clout of ETABS or RISA etc.

5) Another avenue related to this is that I'd also like to provide space for me and others to generate some manner of training modules. Webinars, white papers, etc. Things that, ideally would allow for the earning of PDH's etc. I've really not fleshed this aspect of things out in any detail yet however. I just know that non-academic engineering education is something that I'd very much like to get into if I can swing it.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Re: optimization: Our Sheldon Concert Hall project in St Louis is just being finished now. Its laser cut 1/2" plate steel, tensioned to a perimeter frame. It will have vines eventually. It was developed with custom optimization algorithms in Strand7.


RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)
Wow! I get panicky when I have to do just perforated metal cladding design. This probably deserves it's own thread for discussion.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Whatever your scheme, will you never sell out, or retire, or....
I still lament GenericCadd, Microsafe, etc.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

GenericCadd - clear cause of business failure = horrific branding. Sounds like Geriatric CAD

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (BUGGAR)

Whatever your scheme, will you never sell out, or retire, or....

The plan, as I see it today, is to neither sell out nor retire. My expectation is that I'll enjoy it so much that KootWare would serve as my passion project throughout my retirement. That, combined with my participation on Eng-Tips & Kootcommunity. And travel, family, fitness... blah, blah, blah. Ideally, when my run is over, I'd hand the thing off to a worthy successor or a group of such. I already know of some other Eng-Tippers that would make great heirs apparent. To sweeten the deal, I'd also throw in the world's greatest, in-print collection of structural engineering books (mine).

All that said, it has occurred to me that it might be naive of me to think that I'll always feel as I do now. If I find myself 85 and finding it a chore to maintain Kootware then, sure, I'd consider selling. As I said previously though, I'd probably be pretty selective to whom I was selling the thing.

One aspect of my plan with KootWare may well make it unsalable however. I'm not going to give Kootware away but, beyond a modest income threshold, I mean to start dropping the price rather than raking in more dough. If I could swing it, I'd also make it free for folks willing to tolerate advertising. Long story short, KootWare's not likely to every look like a revenue juggernaut on paper even if I manage to get it to point where I'd be viewing it a successful venture.

HELP! I'd like your help with a thread that I was forced to move to the business issues section where it will surely be seen by next to nobody that matters to me: http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=456235

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK,

Would you also put in your website an 'About' tab whereby you would provide a Resume-like page, so people could appreciate your experience, maybe also see your photo, etc. Or would you go for low profile about this and instead provide a general 'support' mailbox or, if you incorporate, just provide a description of KootWare Ltd.?

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning dance in the rain.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

glass99,

Re: optimization: Our Sheldon Concert Hall project in St Louis is just being finished now. Its laser cut 1/2" plate steel, tensioned to a perimeter frame. It will have vines eventually. It was developed with custom optimization algorithms in Strand7.

Maybe a stupid question from my side, but just to satisfy my curiosity...was this 'custom' optimization dependent upon the initial conditions (if any)?
Would another seed would have given a different outcome (means different mesh but still satisfying structural criteria, etc.)?

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning dance in the rain.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (rotw)

was this 'custom' optimization dependent upon the initial conditions (if any)?

Yes it was given a seed mesh which was generated by the architect using whats called a Catmull Clark algorithm. The first challenge was to take a basically non-structural mesh geometry and let it find load paths. The process was also to some degree manually guided - the optimization got stuck between iterations sometimes, so we had to manually add a few elements and straighten a few load paths. The opening around the door was almost entirely algorithmic though. It started with a rough rectangle and generated this smooth bulb shape.

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Off the general topic...

Interesting scheme glass99, while the algorithm no doubt results in an optimised use of material in its final location, I can't help but think cutting all those shapes/nodes out of plate or something must result in a poor use of any raw plate materials (sort of offsetting its cunning use of material). Curious if waste material generated or the amount of fabrication/welding required factored into the overall algorithm, or was it purely a final in-place optimisation based only on strength/deflection/other criteria?

Seems like a bit of a shame to grow something over the mesh and hide it from view if you ask me!

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

Quote (Agent666)

cutting all those shapes/nodes out of plate or something must result in a poor use of any raw plate materials

We had about 97% material removal during laser cutting, hopefully all of which was recycled! The true optimization was in elevating the human spirit, not in weight saving (sorry this is so off topic).

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

(OP)

Quote (rotw)

Would you also put in your website an 'About' tab whereby you would provide a Resume-like page, so people could appreciate your experience, maybe also see your photo, etc. Or would you go for low profile about this and instead provide a general 'support' mailbox or, if you incorporate, just provide a description of KootWare Ltd.?

Honestly, I don't know. I have conflicting thoughts on this:

1) With respect to forum participation, I feel that I'm at my best with some degree of anonymity. I'd be loath to find myself in a situation where, as a software vendor, I'd feel compelled to tone my posting down a bit to avoid offending potential customers. In fact, I'm not sure that I'd be capable of that even if it were my intent.

2) If I want real businesses to be real Kootware customers, I can't see denying those folks the right to know who they're dealing with and what that person's background is.

3) I currently offer some engineering services at ridiculously low rates simply because I enjoy the work and want to encourage more of it (modelling, lateral stuff, peer review, spreadsheet development). I may, or may not, wish to use Kootware as an avenue to promote those services as well as the software. If I decided to do that, I'd obviously need to provide access to my background and credentials.

Luckily, at current pace, I'm literally years away from having to commit to anything on this. First comes the basic site setup and the roll-out of a suite of free tools. If you've got suggestions on this, however, I'm all ears...

RE: The Best Pricing Model for non-FEM Structural Software - KootWare

KootK:

Same here: conflicting thoughts..

Probably its an option to get all the credentials and background ready but hidden.
System can be set up so that it would only be visible to clients that opt for some sort of bundle package (Tools + Consulting Services), maybe at the time of registration, they will be asked if they would like to quote 'Consulting Services'. But how can they know upfront..

Really don't know...also would love to hear different views.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning dance in the rain.

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