A BWT Alliance interview with Robbie Antonio
As residential property prices swell worldwide, prefabricated homes offer a faster, more cost-effective substitute to traditional housing.
While many view modular homes as a solution to the global housing shortage, Robbie Antonio identified another gap in the market when he founded Revolution Precrafted three years ago.
In the hope of creating something unique he brought together over 70 of the world's leading architects, artists and designers to create luxury branding and revolutionize the industry with these prefabricated homes.
In a short space of time he has achieved just this as Revolution Precrafted recently became the Philippines' first start up to attain ‘unicorn’ status, a valuation of US$1 billion, one of the fastest companies to reach this milestone in Southeast Asia.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Robbie, a man in some quarters who is described as a Rock Star of Real Estate, to discuss his latest venture.
RA: Revolution Precrafted was borne out of my dream to create something new and unique in the real estate industry. It was something that I felt was needed to change the status quo and make branded residential projects more accessible to the people.
ND: Did you expect the business to be so successful so quickly?
RA: I feel like everyone who heard about it in the beginning was really excited about its potential, regardless of whether they were investors or architects, so I kind of expected that it would take off. But to grow at the rate that we are growing is still a surprise and it is quite humbling. It makes us want to work harder in order to deliver the quality, speed and affordable prices that we promised. Having said that, we can’t take all the credit. I think there is also a growing consciousness about the need to develop alternative homes that will cater to different markets.
ND: What are the biggest challenges in terms of your logistics and your business?
RA: At this point, we have already established connections with suppliers, vendors and clients. I think the challenge that we face now is how to make the business truly global and be an important part of the lives of everyone. Currently, we have footprint in 27 countries but we want to triple or increase that in 2 years. We want to be in 85 to 100 countries by the year 2020. It’s not a challenge, but more of a need that we face now on how to sustain the business in an organic way. We have already taken the necessary steps towards that direction. We have made provisions for additional revenue streams and new product offerings, so we avoid becoming stagnant.
ND: Do you think prefabricated housing is the answer to the world’s housing shortage?
RA: There are lot of factors to consider in addressing the housing shortage but we believe that prefab homes can be used towards providing quality, beautiful homes to people. The good thing about modular home is that you can change it to suit the specific demands and taste of the owner. They are very flexible. I think governments can invest in modular homes for say, mass housing projects in order to build more shelters faster, and at a fraction of the cost.
ND: Which project are you most proud of?
RA: We have 31 projects in the pipeline and we are proud of them all. But I guess, we can single out our projects in Dubai, Australia, Japan and United States because these projects are quite challenging in the sense that we are working hard to ensure that we follow the local the standards of these countries. We all know that these countries have some of the most stringent building codes and policies. The fact that we are able to comply with the standards speaks volume about our capabilities and attitude.
ND: Where do you see your business in five years time?
RA: The whole landscape is changing so we expect to be a different company by then. We need to follow what the market wants in order to remain relevant and in demand. For example, there is a great demand for homes at the moment so that’s why our main focus are modular homes, regardless whether they are curated or basic homes. But the demand will surely change and the market would need other products. We expect to be producing modular schools, modular clinics, and low to medium rise offices in the coming years. We also expect to have invested in other byproducts as accessories. We want to be know as a company that keeps up with the times.
ND: What do you predict will be the most significant technological change in the built environment in the coming years?
RA: You can see it now. There is a growing consciousness to build sustainable structures. I think one of the trends that we can expect in real estate is the adoption of net zero technology. This is especially true in the field of hospitality and urban residential projects. People want to protect the environment while they are building dream homes and luxurious hotels and amenities. And we welcome this trend.
Another trend is the integration of digital technology to homes. We predict that there will be a lot of sophisticated projects that will marry architecture and technology, IOT and blockchain among others.
ND: What role do you think Asia and in particular Southeast Asia will play in the digital transformation of the real estate and construction?
RA: Southeast Asia will be one of the primary driver regions for the growth of prefab homes and for the adoption of digital technology in real estate. Customers from the region are always evolving and they always crave for something new and something better. Our largest market is Southeast Asia and we have a good understanding of what the market wants. Without a doubt, the Asian and Southeast markets are huge, and the attitude of customers will drive and encourage real estate companies to innovate in order get a keep up, or get ahead of the competition. This is how they can secure a substantial chunk of the real estate pie.
ND: What advice would you have for other Asian ConTech and PropTech Startups who are looking to emulate your Unicorn status?
RA: Dig deep, be flexible, be innovative and be resilient.