“Why?” might be the most intriguing question about any startup.
Independently of the technical or economic viability of the idea or product, the answer to the motives of creating something new reveals so much more than a landing page will ever tell you. It sets the foundation as well as the vision, which leads the startup like a guiding star every step along the way.
So why do we build Valispace?
Almost every object a human interacts with in our modern world, has been built by a team of engineers. The screen you are reading this blog from, as well as the microchips inside your device; the wifi that connects you to a network of servers, which make this text available; as well as the power plant which provides the power for them. But also the chair you are sitting on, the lamp that illuminates your room and the window you look through have been carefully designed by engineers. Every screw in your refrigerator has been simulated, selected and its position debated and optimized. Its door has been tested in a refrigerator-door-open-close-simulator machine for thousands of cycles.
The reason why we engineers are able to design objects today that would have seemed like magic to people living only 100 years ago (think of rockets or smartphones), is because we are standing on the shoulders of giants: applying the knowledge of millions of scientists who lay the groundwork as well as millions of fellow engineers who developed tools and methods which we shamelessly apply and improve.
But the limits of today’s engineering are not the imagination of engineers, but the tools for collaboration: the more complex a product becomes, the more engineers need to work together on it. Designing a complex satellite for example involves usually several hundred engineers, spread over dozens of companies and its complete development and testing can take more than a decade.
Valispace aims to radically streamline the engineering process of hardware projects. This will enable small teams to design highly complex systems fast and cheap and big teams to build things which seem like magic to us today.
Software engineering already went through this revolution: while in the 70s you would need hundreds or thousands of engineers to create the simplest programs, small and lean teams nowadays are able to create amazing and scalable software1 at a rapid pace. In our opinion, mainly two things drove this revolution:
Collaboration tools such as git or svn, which made teamwork truly feasible and are the backbone for practically every small and big software project today.
Open source, which allowed the creation of reusable building blocks and tools, of which millions of software engineers benefit daily in their open or closed projects.
Today hardware engineering works exactly in the opposite way. What seems unimaginable in the software engineering world (such as emailing source code, instead of managing it in one central place), is common practice for collaboration in complex hardware engineering. Outside of the limited world of CAD, there is no common representation of engineering data, to allow collaboration or reuse. In the past 50 years, academic efforts such as SysML or other ModelBased theories have not proven to be suitable for industrial real world problems, which is why there are no useful, widespread tool implementations of these ideas in companies who actually design complex hardware.
The sad reality is that today’s collaborative engineering of the most complex hardware in the world, such as satellites, power plants, robots, etc. is managed with Word and Excel.
Expensive inconsistencies, low reuse, hardly manageable technical complexity and frustrated document updating engineers are only some of the results.
At Valispace we believe that there is a hardware revolution to come: harnessing the power of low costs for electronics, the availability of methods such as 3D printing as well as ever-growing connectivity, we expect the hardware world to make a huge leap forward in the coming years. And Valispace is aiming at becoming the backbone of this revolution.
 Think of WhatsApp, who – before their acquisition – built and maintained the app for 900 million monthly users with a team of only 50 engineers.