Founder Sam Carigliano shares his 8-year journey building structural analysis and design software SkyCiv. To him, the key to success lies in the ability to teach yourself almost everything.
Give us the SkyCiv pitch. What does it do and which segment of the construction industry does it primarily serve?
SkyCiv offers a range of structural engineering software, all built for the future. It's accessed 100% on the cloud, with better user experience, integrated with a lot of other products and is enabling design automation via our API. Check it out at skyciv.com.
One thing people seem to misunderstand about engineers.
I think that engineers are often underestimated, especially when it comes to their impact on humanity. There's a famous saying, that "Engineers have their fingerprints on everything" and I believe that wholeheartedly. The cars we drive, the buildings we work and live in, the kettle we turned on this morning. Without engineers, none of these would exist - they keep the world moving every day.
Tell us the story when you first started SkyCiv. What inspired (or pressured) you to create a streamlined structural engineering software?
My Co-Founder Paul and I were neighbours, studying the same degree. We saw no one was bringing structural engineering software online and saw an opportunity. So we taught ourselves to program and would work late nights after our day jobs to build a prototype. It took us more than 6 months to build a first version of what is now SkyCiv Beam. It was a long process, but it was something we were really passionate about.
And the story behind its name.
Sky represents the cloud, and Civ is from Civil... We wanted something that was original, clean and sticky. Our first website was called bendingmomentdiagram.com so I think we've come a long way!
What are some typical use cases for SkyCiv software?
We're really solving the problem of accessibility. Current software requires expensive upfront licensing, gigabytes of space, and difficult to learn. SkyCiv offers an easy alternative, easy-to-use software on flexible pricing. We also have a lot fewer IT requirements, which make it great for teachers and universities. Finally the API is a new and exciting opportunity as it opens the possibilities of design automation.
What's the most interesting project that you've seen SkyCiv used for so far?
Very early on we saw a plane being designed in SkyCiv, so for me personally that's always been an inspiring point as it was only a year into our first product. Since then, some of the transport projects like train stations and airports were really cool to see. I'm also very passionate about Education, so some of the competitions like the Science Olympiad Competition in the US have been awesome to see.
What was the hardest part of getting it off the ground?
Gaining awareness and trust as new software was very difficult. The industry is notoriously slow to move and there are already a lot of options for structural engineering software. But we worked on being truly different, and have focussed a lot on quality assurance and transparency from the beginning to gain industry recognition and trust.
What keeps you up at night?
Usually the timezones! Between the US and Europe markets, it can usually mean we're working really early or really late. But in general, I think it's quite easy to doubt yourself when running or starting a company, but I learned to delete those thoughts a long time ago and that's really helped. I put this in a more positive frame - as I always feel like there's room to improve and possibilities to be better.
One thing that SkyCiv did for your client that you didn’t expect.
I don't think we ever expected the company to come this far and be helping engineers automate the designs of some pretty cool structures. When we started, it was a simple beam analysis tool and we just enjoyed building the product.
Something about your industry that has surprised you lately.
I think it's really cool to see engineers becoming more interested in programming. Engineers that want to learn new skills and get into software development, because I think they see it as the future. Many say structural engineering can be slow to move, but I think with the quality of skills and interests that the younger generation has, it's pretty exciting to think about what's possible.
And the people who have accompanied you on the SkyCiv journey. Tell me about them.
I'm so lucky to have such an awesome, passionate team around me. They surprise me and impress me every day. I also couldn't have asked for a better Co-Founder. Paul is such a hardworking and inspiring person to work with, and as a product-led company, he's the glue that keeps us together.
What’s one lesson your job has taught you that you think everyone should learn at some point in their life?
Become good at self-learning. I believe you can teach yourself almost anything about running a business, so if you have that one skill, it can turn into many others. I also believe if you respect and trust the people around you, and you'll receive it back in droves.
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