When you think about collaborative design tools, chances are you immediately start thinking about Figma, the popular design tool that Adobe wants to acquire for $20 billion (by the way, that acquisition is still pending regulatory approval). A relatively new French startup called Rayon wants to apply the Figma formula to another sector — the architecture, engineering and construction industries.
Founded in 2021, Rayon first raised a $1.9 million pre-seed funding round (€1.75 million). More recently, the startup secured a $4.2 million seed round (€4 million) co-led by Northzone and pre-seed investor Foundamental.
Some existing investors are also putting more money in the company with this seed round, such as Seedcamp, and Norman Foster through Foster + Partners. Some of the angels who invested in the startup include Rasmus Andersson (a well-known designer and early employee at Spotify and Figma), Adam Wiggins (co-founder of Heroku), David Basulto (founder and CEO of ArchDaily) and David Apple (early employee at Typeform and Notion).
So what does Rayon look like exactly? Rayon is a browser-based design tool, meaning that you don’t have to install any application on your computer to start using it. It is compatible with many file formats, such as PDF and CAD documents (DWG, DXF) as well as images in case you want to style a surface.
After that, Rayon lets you draw walls, add doors and annotate floor plans. The service can also be used as a central repository for your object library, which can be useful for furniture. For instance, if you’re designing office floors and you always use the same desk, you will want to import the desk to your object library.
When you’re done creating the perfect floor plan, you can generate PDFs so that you can send them to your clients or print them. Rayon can also calculate square meters and generate tables based on your floor plans.
What makes Rayon better than legacy software from Autodesk and others is that it’s a multiplayer-first experience. You can send a link to other team members and they can have a look at what you’ve been working on in just a few seconds. Rayon supports annotations, comments and revisions. Editors pay a monthly subscription fee to access the service while viewers can see models without any additional subscription fee.
It’s still early days for Rayon, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out over time with features that differentiate the product from legacy software. For instance, the startup could create a community platform with community-generated content built directly into the product. And let’s see if those Rayon sharing links start popping up in email threads.