Interview with Paul Bay, CEO of Punch! Software

July 06, 2009 6 min read

Not all CAD companies play in the same arena. While most CAD companies stay busy talking to the press, explaining strategies to financial analysts, and placing expensive ads in magazines nobody reads anymore, some CAD companies invest their time and money in talking to customers. These companies are less likely to be on a stage under a spotlight, but they are out there in the market enjoying a strong dialogue with their customers and selling licenses by the millions. Punch! Software (website) is one of these kinds of companies. They make a powerful product line that includes products such as ViaCAD, Shark, HomeDesign, and more. It’s time to invite Punch! Software‘s CEO Paul Bay to the stage of the Novedge blog, turn on the lights, and ask him a few questions.

Paul can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company?

I have a strong background and intimate knowledge of retail, internet, SMB, commercial, corporate, and vendor markets

Sure. I am Paul Bay, the CEO of Punch! Software and I’ve been with Punch! for over three and a half years. I have a strong background in technology distribution where I spent eleven years with Ingram Micro, Inc., the world’s largest technology distributor, headquartered in Southern California. I was Senior Vice President of North America at Ingram Micro with Executive Management responsibility for purchasing, vendor relationships, business development, category management, vendor marketing as well as the components business unit. I have a strong background and intimate knowledge of retail, internet, SMB, commercial, corporate, and vendor markets and I’ve been thrilled to bring those skills to Punch! and utilize them in the role I hold within the company in order to grow and evolve as the market around us evolves and expands.

for the past 10 years, we’ve continued to dominate the North American market in home design software

Upon accepting the position with Punch! in 2006, I relocated my family from sunny Southern California to Kansas City, Missouri and have enjoyed the opportunity to explore family life in a completely different region than I grew up within Southern California. Around the months of December through mid-March I do miss the sunshine of the west coast, but we’ve learned to appreciate many things unique to Kansas City as well. I have yet to sway my allegiance to the San Diego Chargers and my family may very well be the only ones wearing navy blue jerseys each Sunday in Kansas City!
Punch! Software was formed in 1998 with the idea that 3D design software should be as fun to use as it is productive. Everyday we are focused on our mission to be the leading global provider and destination for design solutions. For the past 10 years, we’ve continued to dominate the North American market in home design software through our retail and online sales outlets and in late 2006 we decided to expand our 3D design breadth by acquiring CadSoft Solutions and were quickly recognized as the fastest growing CAD company in 2007. Through the acquisition we were able to add to the Punch! Software portfolio an incredibly strong lineup of 2D/3D CAD software for the professional architect and engineer, via our Shark CAD product line, as well as CAD products for the hobbyist, through our ViaCAD product line.

Who is the typical Punch! Software customer? Why does he or she select Shark CAD?

we have over three million Punch! Software customers

The typical Punch! Software customer is somebody who recognizes a truly powerful 2D/3D CAD solution that’s incredibly easy to use, in addition to somebody who appreciates the affordability the Shark CAD and ViaCAD products offer. We have over three million Punch! Software customers so our ability to truly bring 3D CAD design to anybody and everybody is something we believe to be highly achievable.
Our current CAD customer base has a very broad range from high tech manufacturers to creative artists; from set designers to recreational product designers; from luxury packaging designers to architects, school districts and prestigious universities. It’s quite broad, which I believe is a nod to our ease of use and powerful product capabilities, and the good news is that it just keeps growing!

The “ease-of-use” is among the most quoted quality of your products. What are the keys to making the end-user life easier while still providing high level features?

ease-of-use is a combination of the user interface, video tutorials, and software features

We believe that ease-of-use is a combination of the user interface, video tutorials, and software features that enhance the total user experience. For new users, we provide over 80 minutes of embedded video tutorials. These tutorials can serve as a learning syllabus, a reference tool, or simply as a guide as you go through your design process.
In addition to the video tutorials, our Shark CAD products provide an extensive set of software features aimed at enhancing the user experience and unveiling high level features as needed. This is accomplished through customizing tool options, smart prompting, tips and tricks pop-ups, and intelligent snapping using LogiCursor™. LogiCursor is often noted by our users as an indispensable tool for working in 3D as well as 2D. Using the tools provided within the ViaCAD and Shark CAD products, we literally can have a beginning 2D/3D design enthusiast designing within minutes!

Your products run on the Win platform as well as on the Mac. Do you receive the same feedback from the two categories of users?

we provide the ability to read native CATIA and Pro/E, which is a unique solution for Mac users

Aside from the resounding “Hallelujah” from the Mac community, we do tend to receive similar feedback from the two categories of users. Both categories of users want functionality and the ability to share data with others. Our out-of-the box functionality and ability to share data precisely using IGES, STEP, DXF/DWG and SAT is much welcomed. We also provide the ability to read native CATIA and Pro/E Wildfire parts, which is a unique solution for Mac users.
Our Mac users are thrilled to see we provide a native interface to Mac, much as our PC interface is native to Windows. Neither user community is compromised by our decision to support both platforms. However, our Mac users will find some extra translators as part of the Mac OS for reading EPS, PDF, and AI files. These file formats are great for Adobe users migrating into 3D.
With respect to our price point within the CAD software market, collectively we receive raised eyebrows, lots of comments such as “really?”, and deliberate nods of approval. The functionality combined with user experience at an attractive price point is appreciated by both categories of users.

What is the level of collaboration and synergy you have with CadSoft since the acquisition in November 2006?

there were lots of similarities between Punch! and CadSoft as we both promoted a very entrepreneurial environment

Collaboration and synergies were completely integrated shortly after the acquisition. We saw a unique opportunity when we acquired CadSoft Solutions to not only obtain a great technology, but also a seasoned veteran in Tim Olson. Tim has over 25 years of management experience in this industry and brought a wealth of knowledge within the CAD space.
There were lots of similarities between Punch! and CadSoft Solutions as we both promoted a very entrepreneurial environment. Tim and his team have become a part of the Punch! family and they continue to collaborate with sales and marketing as well as the core management team on a daily basis. We’re thankful everyday for their contribution, expertise, perspective and immense knowledge of the CAD market and industry.

The Shark product line integrates 2D and 3D in an effective way. What role do you think 2D will play in the design and manufacturing industry five years from now?

We see 2D continuing to play a relevant role especially in the presentation of 3D data through engineering drawings. Our goal is to continue to provide easy and affordable tools that automate this process providing an attractive migration path for 2D users.

Integration with other CAD system is a key feature of the Shark product line. How is Shark used in combination with the “big guys” (CATIA, Pro/E., etc.)?

[Integration with other CAD system] is a key feature of the Shark product line

You’re right Franco, it is a key feature of the Shark product line and something we’re very proud of. Tim and his team developed a precise kernel that facilitates the sharing of data with the “big guys” and we’ve seen it work to the advantage of the customer in several instances. We have many customers who have existing installations of CATIA, Pro/E, AutoCAD, Solidworks, you name it, and they’ve been able to add additional CAD licenses of Shark into the existing environment to share data seamlessly, and for a noticeably more affordable price tag.

I would like to thank Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have any questions for Paul or for Novedge, please leave a comment below and we will be glad to answer.

Franco Folini

Shark CAD Video
Punch! Software products are available from Novedge

Franco Folini
Franco Folini

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