Software company established in 1992
Software company established in 1992
Arahne is a software company, specialized in developing CAD/CAM systems for weaving. It was established in 1992 in Slovenia by two young computer engineers, Dušan Peterc and Simon Weilguny, tired of fruitless “research” and bureaucracy in universities and government research institutes.
Slovenia gained its independence just one year earlier, and it looked like a good place to start a business. Both Simon and Dušan have worked in the field of speech synthesis, while Dušan finished his master studies in Cefriel in Milan, Italy in the area of computer graphics. This unlikely background and will for creation was channeled into textile design software almost by chance. They first wanted to make an image database of fabric designs, like an on-line sourcebook of ideas. As they presented this idea to local industry, they quickly became aware that they don’t speak the same language. The industry had no use for such image database, since they were lacking the most basic CAD tools. Dušan and Simon have started to listen to their potential customers, and they have never stopped since then. Arahne’s customers shape Arahne’s products. Weaving mills in Slovenia at that time were in worse shape than the garment manufacturers. So garment “giants” like Mura were not interested in any r&d, as they could buy finished CAD products on the market. And weaving mills had so little money that they could not, so even collaborating with two young software engineers in a two year project did not look so bad. Arahne has installed dobby systems in factories at the end of 1993, and first jacquard CAD system in mid 1994.
Slovenia has a population of only 2 million people, so Arahne’s team knew they had to export their software from the very start. In 1995 Arahne has exhibited at ITMA fair in Milan, Italy for the first time, and it has been to every ITMA since then (1999 in Paris, 2003 in Birmingham, 2007 in Munich, 2011 in Barcelona). Arahne had gained first international sales already in 1995. Coming from a small nation, where most people speaks at least 3 languages, Arahne has a culture of investing in translations. So its software was developed from the start with translations in mind, and today Arahne has the software text translated in 12 languages.
Just as the language is a tool to interface to people, CAD must also do the CAM part, that is talk to the weaving machinery. Arahne’s software currently reads and writes over 40 different file formats. Many of these formats are hard to get, poorly documented, and need to be tested with a customer who has this equipment (loom, warper, drawing-in machine). Many years on the market exposed Arahne to the diverse incompatible textile machinery, and it overcome this obstacle by implementing the necessary interfaces. From the technical point of view, Arahne has started its development on Unix, since Windows was not mature as a CAD platform in 1992. This has brought many problems with installation and drivers, and in some cases also hurt the company commercially. Situation got gradually better since 1997, when Arahne ported its software to Linux. And it will get even better in 2011, when the company will launch the Apple Mac OSX version. Nowadays Linux is no longer greeted with fear, and designers just love their Macs. For companies who need Windows at all costs, virtualisation comes to the rescue, and Linux runes nicely in WmWare or VirtualBox. The choice or Unix/Linux was not all bad. Operating system is extremely stable, and it allowed us to use single development platform for almost 20 years. This means 20 years of gradual improvements, bug fixes, solving customer’s problems. Instead of working on changing programming languages and user interface toolkits.
Geographically, Italy is the strongest European market for Arahne, and thanks to good highway system they can reach main textile centers like Milan, Biella, Como, Prato in 4 to 5 hours by car. The percentage of Arahne’s Asian sales is also growing every year. Asian customers enjoy the high quality European product, which has matured with gradual improvement over many years. Export represents 93% of company’s income in 2009.
In the 20 years of business, we never heard a textile businessman or woman saying business is good. Always crying. And yet population is growing, and most people wear clothes. Textile business is hard and highly competitive. But is it not going away, it is growing every year. So the future of Arahne is bright.