Empower Building Design Using Data - How Snaptrude CEO Forged His Own Path

Hop Dao
Hop Dao
September 6, 2021

CEO Altaf Ganihar shares his journey of making his collaborative building design software Snaptrude. Finding a better, more sustainable way to build for the community has always been his moral compass.

  1. Give us the Snaptrude pitch and the segment of the construction industry it primarily serves

Snaptrude is a web-based collaborative 3D building design tool powered by automation and intelligent BIM. With Snaptrude, design teams can build more efficient & sustainable buildings while saving weeks compared to legacy tools with data & design automation. All of this while collaborating in real-time with their team, stakeholders & gathering real-world feedback around budget, compliance, climate etc for faster approvals.

Snaptrude is aimed at architects & design teams as the primary audience and focuses on the early design exploration to the design development stage of the construction process.

  1. Tell us the story of Snaptrude in its first days. How did the idea of a smart, automated design tool come into being?

It all started with my exposure to the architecture & design industry during my undergrad days, where I was involved in the IDH (India Digital Heritage) project. We were working towards creating a seamless workflow to reconstruct any cultural heritage site in 3D & I spent a lot of my time in computer graphics and geometry research. On the sidelines, I was working on a hobby project to create 3D models out of floorplan images as a plugin to Sketchup, which garnered enough interest to gave me the courage to pursue entrepreneurship after my undergrad over joining a Ph.D. program.

I spent the next 2 years in the AEC industry building plugins for SketchUp Revit, Unreal, and web-based 3D applications with the help of a small team. This is where I closely experienced how broken & complex the design to construction journey is and quickly realised building plugins is like slapping band-aids on much deeper problems.

In late 2017 we started conceptualising what Snaptrude has become today, building the ability to do freeform design that designers love while the parametric BIM models are generated under the hood to enable a seamless workflow that can democratise good design in conjunction with BIM.

  1. One of the key highlights of Snaptrude is powering the design process with data. In what ways data can have an impact on this process?

Design & data are considered disparate today by current generation design tools. Existing tools force AEC teams to wait for weeks to months, bringing up designs to basic specifications, before they can start aggregating feedback around real-world data. The biggest losers of this process are regular citizens who inherit unsustainable, expensive to build & maintain buildings. In an industry where the impact lasts for years, this lack of actionable feedback causes decisions to get severely delayed, resulting in humongous cost implications for retrospective corrections. This might be the biggest choking point for the future of efficient and sustainable construction/maintenance of the built environment this decade demands.

This is what we are attempting to solve with real-time access to data around design decisions. This enables design teams to quantitatively & qualitatively study the impact of their decision decisions in real-time and helping them build more efficient, sustainable designs while saving weeks' worth of time & effort.

  1. Give us a photo of a building (or house) that was designed using Snaptrude and the story behind it.

I won't be able to share any public designs done by our users as it would fall under the user-generated content & they have the copyright to it. However, sharing the image of a conceptual pilot project, we recently did:

  1. 1 thing you like and 1 thing you dislike about the industry you’re in.

Like: The impact of the industry.

Dislike: Slow to change/adopt new technology.

  1. We know you’re a bit of all these. But if you can choose only one, which of the following would you use to introduce yourself and why?
  • Designer
  • Engineer
  • Entrepreneur

Probably Engineer: Deep in my heart, I'm still an engineer. I still like tinkering around with the codebase and build things.

  1. What is the next problem you want to improve the solution of Snaptrude to solve?

We are actively working on parametric component designer & auto interior module. These two will pave the way for detailed design implementation on Snaptrude but with a very slick & intuitive experience.

  1. A person who inspired you and why.

Albert Einstein. As an outsider working in the patents office with little exposure to the complex world of theoretical physics, he could redefine modern physics with his astonishingly accurate theories that hold good even today. Since I was a kid, he really inspired me that anyone with sustained curiosity and hard work can contribute to any field, even as an outsider.

  1. What's one thing you always have on your desk at the office that other people don’t?

For the last few months, it's been a Harry Potter music box that was gifted to me by my wife.

  1. Tell us one thing that has amazed you recently.

Recently I stumbled upon the quantum erasure experiment and made me realise again how strangely our universe operates.

  1. Tell us something about you that none of your employees know.

I recite the table of 7 till as much as I can when I'm anxious or tensed.

  1. How do you see and treat the competition within your chosen industry?

I have immense respect for competition, both large companies, and startups. This industry is at an inflection point right now, and technology adoption will solve some critical problems around sustainability, the housing crisis, the economic downturn that are looming large. And I look forward to everyone contributing to make this happen.

  1. A photo from your most recent holiday and the location it was taken.

This was somewhere near Lindis Pass, South Island, New Zealand.

Learn more about Snaptrude and Altaf.

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