Visao facilitates the promotion and demonstration of industrial equipment
by Startup Montréal
13 November 2022
13 November 2022
This article was originally published on infobref.com
Before considering the purchase of a complex machine or heavy equipment, a potential buyer wants to quickly get an idea if the product can meet the needs of his company or his administration. Simple pictures don’t tell him much, and he doesn’t have time to dive into technical documentation right away. Quebec-based startup Visao helps equipment manufacturers showcase their products through 3D animations, available online, that demonstrate how the device works and can meet the customer’s needs.
The problem that Visao Technology, a Quebec City-based company that also has an office in Montreal, is tackling is the difficulty for a manufacturer of complex machinery or equipment to get potential buyers to see and understand its products.
“It’s hard to get a customer in front of a machine: you either have to take the equipment to an industry show or bring the customer into the factory or warehouse,” says Thomas Paquin-Lamontagne, president and founder of Visao. “It’s extremely expensive. And it’s not even always possible: these machines are not necessarily produced in sufficient volume so that there is always one available to demonstrate.”
To promote heavy equipment online, one can of course post photos and videos of it, and display descriptions and technical specifications. But these contents have limitations. “They don’t always provide a good understanding of how the machine works, or what benefits it offers,” says Thomas Paquin-Lamontagne.
Visao’s solution – which means “vision” in Portuguese – is to create a 3-D model of the equipment from the computer-aided design (CAD) files used to create it. For each machine or piece of equipment, Visao’s software starts from extremely detailed industrial drawings that were used by the manufacturer. The software removes any details that are superfluous or could reveal proprietary secrets, and brings the machine to life with a realistic appearance that can then be animated.
“We can then generate step-by-step demonstration sequences of the product and enhance them with annotations or links to more specific documents,” says Thomas Paquin-Lamontagne.
The result is a 3D viewer that allows a potential customer to see the device from all angles, to fully understand how it works and to grasp the processes that would be involved in using it. The software is online. The 3D documents are accessible in the cloud, either from web links for each object or sequence, or as iframe code that can be embedded in a web page. The system also generates a QR code that allows direct access to a sequence.
The business model is an annual license that Visao charges each manufacturer to create 3D models of their products. Visao also offers its customers a coaching service, often to create their first 3D models, and teach them how to use the sequence editor and configure animations. Currently, the company is completing its first year of commercialization. Its software is already being used by dozens of clients in Quebec, Canada, the United States and Europe. Most of its clients sell to businesses or utilities, rather than to consumers.
“The core of our market is currently made up of large SMEs with a few hundred employees,” says Thomas Paquin-Lamontagne.
He cites as examples: Machinex, of Plessisville, in the Centre-du-Québec region, which manufactures recycling and waste sorting machines; and SBI International, of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, in the Quebec City area, which manufactures wood stoves and furnaces.
Visao will soon have 8 employees. The company is one of 20 start-ups selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montréal.
Next steps for the company:
Visao wants to leverage other applications of its online software, to follow its customers after the marketing phase of their products.
“Once the product is sold,” says Thomas Paquin-Lamontagne, “equipment manufacturers often want to provide their customers with practical documentation, instruction manuals, or guides to solve common problems. Our 3D models and animations lend themselves perfectly to these needs.”
Visao is also looking to increase its sales outside of Quebec. While it has so far been able to grow with self-generated funds, to support its growth, it plans to conduct a first equity financing return in 2023.