A brief history of bimstore
For a technology business like us, 2011 seems positively medieval now - but it wasn't all plague, inquisitions, and poor drainage. In the May of that year, the government mandated that all public sector projects should be BIM-enabled by 2016, a deadline that the industry is still racing to meet now. It was also in 2011 that bimstore, the UK's largest manufacturer-specific BIM library, was born.
To understand the story of bimstore you need to know about its parent company. The history of Space Group began in 1957 with the establishment of architectural firm Waring and Netts in the North East of England. In the late 90s the business's current Chief Executive Rob Charlton started to investigate and research parametric software. He came across Revit Technologies in 2000 and purchased his first licence.
By 2005 the practice had delivered its first building using the software. In 2007 Waring and Netts rebranded as Space Group to emphasise its increasingly broad purview. Space Group’s investment in Revit was vindicated when the software developer Autodesk acquired the software, and the term BIM was adopted across the industry. It was against this backdrop that Space started to identify market opportunities. In 2011 BIM.Technologies was established as a specialist consultancy division within the business.
In operating BIM.Technologies, it became clear to Space Group that there was going to be a need for manufacturer-specific models and information during the design stage. Models and families were available online already, but it was widely felt that their quality was inconsistent.
A small internal team including Rob Charlton, Adam Ward and James Austin started to develop a prototype and business model for the site. The original site was developed by Adam Ward on a Joomla platform. Several colleagues worked nights and weekends to build content for the site. Early products included iPads and Velux roof lights.
On April 1st 2011 the site went live. Not long after Zehnder came onboard as our first paying customer.
The site continued to grow and to develop content, with a dedicated content creation team gathered together to produce components for those manufacturers that did not have in-house capability.
Nine months after its spring launch there was an initial brand refresh, paving the way for the release of a brand new site in April 2013; then, just over a year later, we unveiled bimstore 3.0, which uses a bespoke build from the bottom up. As you can see below, Ermintrude's stoic friendliness wasn't always in her nature. She was, we admit, a bit of a hell-raiser at first.
bimstore has enjoyed unbroken momentum since its inception. In its relatively short life, it has secured 70 manufacturers, a figure which translates into over 2000 objects. We have 10,000 registered specifiers and have had 400,000 downloads since launch. Traffic continues to increase and the site will move to Amazon S3 by the autumn of 2014.
Our business model is geared towards being both manufacturer and specifier-friendly. Specifiers have free access to all the content on the site, which they can download at their leisure. There is registration required but no other subscriptions. Manufacturers pay an annual hosting charge. bimstore can create content for suppliers or alternatively bimstore can host providing it achieves bimstore standards.
Manufacturers on bimstore are catered to with a robust service; part of this is their ability to log onto their own dashboard and track downloads by individual specifier.
One of the unique aspects of bimstore is its standards; all content complies with UK standards and is quality checked before it is uploaded. Specifiers know that when they come to us that anything they download is good to go. They are even notified of any revisions in the product they’ve downloaded, and this also applies to any product they’ve designated as a “favourite”.
The 2014 iteration of the site carries ancillary features such as bimshelf - bimstore technology retooled for manufacturers’ own websites. Specifiers can browse a specific manufacturer’s products on these websites, and download through bimstore’s servers.
Dot bimstore provides mini private bimstores for specific clients, so that hotel chains and public sector buildings (for example) can be built from uniform components. Current customers include hotel operators, contractors and public sector organisations.
A new feature introduced in 3.0 is bimbox, a utility that enables our users to arrange any combination of objects into one personalised library. This can be done from anywhere – mobile users who don’t have access to a BIM program can still collect together items they’d love to use and bookmark them for download later.
So, that's our history. As to our future? Further improvements to bimstore are on their way, including multi-country support and a handheld app. These will amount to a large step forward for the site. We've come a long way since the dark ages...