You’d think that with the futuristic and gravity defying creations they spawn, architects would be leading the vanguard of efficient working practices. It turns out they’re still stuck in the 90s, where sharing files and collaborating with partners and clients is done via CD and bike messenger, or – shock! horror! – even printouts sent by post.
Tech startup Woobius is trying to solve this problem with its collaboration tool for architects and engineers, built to suit the specialised workflows of the construction industry.
To set the scene: your typical building project involves hundreds if not thousands of drawings, depending on the size of the project. Each drawing has multiple revisions and comments from consultants on the project. Multiply this by 15-20 companies involved in a typical building project, and it makes for a pretty big collaboration headache.
Woobius is taking on existing tools in this space, such as BIW, Asite and 4projects, which have been criticised for being slow, expensive, hard to use and often introduced only in the construction stages of a project, rather than starting from the design process.
The service is centred on two tools: the dropbox, a light-weight inter-company file sharing tool, and the vault, which includes document control functionality. It’s been in beta for a year and has evolved in response to feedback from architects using it on live projects in that time.
The business model is a straightforward freemium one; projects are free up to 200MB, and £10/GB/month thereafter. The privately funded startup was founded in 2007 by architect Bob Leung, who designed the product, and technology lead Daniel Tenner.
They plan to officially launch and market Woobius now that proof of concept is in place. Given the site’s reported growth through word of mouth alone – from 15 initial users to over 2500 registered users across 100 construction projects in 27 countries – I’d say they’re on to a winner.