SensAble’s FreeForm modeling system was an organic CAD solution that provides a way for users to sculpt highly organic forms with a sense of touch.
In 2001, the FreeForm modeling system has been on the market for a couple of years. The core technologies for this C++ based desktop software CAD platform are in place and the feature set had achieved minimum viable product. The company had a solid offering for the beachhead market of digital sculpting for figurines and collectibles, and had a strategy and roadmap for satisfying customer needs and wants in this market. It had amassed a wealth of customer insights and was ready to investigate two adjacent markets: industrial design and low cost 3D desktop publishing.
As VP Engineering, Elaine and her software managers grew the team by 50% in three months, to 30 full time engineers as well as 5-10 full time contractors. She brought in new talent with experience in different areas of computational geometry and mathematics to complement the team. She oversaw advanced development programs to investigate these new verticals, as well as managed the development and release of additional feature set that rounded out the product offering for customers in the beachhead market. She also oversaw investments in software architecture and design, getting the software platform to adopt an extensible design that supported the introduction of new functionality in optional modules under separate license.
The software team at SensAble brought over 10 software releases to market in 18 months, including 2x performance improvement of the modeling kernel, additional feature sets for digital sculpting, as well as major additional modules like photorealistic rendering and output polymesh decimation. Customers were impressed with the responsiveness of the company and were pleased to see their needs and wants addressed in new releases. New advances in modeling technology eventually helped the company capture new segments in the product design market, such as designing shoe outsoles. Key initiatives like interoperability with up and downstream applications and processes dramatically expanded the ease of integration of FreeForm into customer workflows, strengthening the value proposition beyond digital content creation and moving the product towards a complete solution for the customers.