The Philippines found its first unicorn in 2017, when Revolution Precrafted, a provider of prefabricated properties – homes, condos, pavilions, hotels, among others – raised an undisclosed Series B funding round that valued the company at over $1 billion.
The news was a major story in a country where startups are struggling to access capital domestically and whose founders often seek opportunities abroad instead of developing their technologies locally.
“It is not like we have fewer brilliant people here. It is more of the lack of funding,” 40-year-old Jose Roberto “Robbie” Antonio, founder of the two-year-old real estate startup, told DEALSTREETASIA in an interaction.
Established in December 2015, Revolution Precrafted sells highly customizable prefabricated properties, including pavilions, homes, condos, hotels, adaptive amenity spaces, transposable restaurants, pop-up retail shops, gyms, and even customized clamping that can be ordered on the company’s website.
These prefabricated properties have been created by globally renowned architects and designers, such as Jean Nouvel, David Salle, Zaha Hadid, and even artists like Lenny Kravitz, Daphne Guinness, and Tom Dixon, said Antonio.
After achieving unicorn status in December, Revolution Precrafted seeks to establish its presence in at least 20 countries around the world, with the long-term goal of becoming the global leader in designer prefabricated structures.
Antonio, the youngest to feature in Forbes’ 2017 list of the 50 richest people in the Philippines, spoke to this portal about Revolution Precrafted’s business model, expansion plans, and his company’s recognition as the country’s first unicorn.
Can you talk about Revolution Precrafted’s business model and operations?
Much like other disruptive firms such as AirBnB and Uber, our highly differentiated business model provides the best in architectural design globally, at lower costs and shorter timelines, through the ingenious application of technological innovation.
We are the complete antithesis of the traditional real estate company. We cater to the world. We do not have to be site-specific, buy land, take out construction loans, or have inventory.
I would like to believe we have fundamentally transformed the real estate/property development sector by introducing affordability, accessibility, simplicity, convenience, and sustainability to an otherwise intimidating, complicated and generally expensive industry.
Revolution Precrafted is the country’s first unicorn and among the fastest growing startups in Southeast Asia. To what would you attribute the company’s popularity/success?
Our success is predicated on addressing the most common pain points of home buyers—speed, quality, cost, design, and complexity of the process. Our fabricators can complete the developments faster. A home can be completed in three months as opposed to the usual two years as most of the components have already been fabricated, ready for assembly at the job site.
Moreover, instead of wasting six months to a year on design, our clients can choose from the works of the most revered award-winning architects such as Jean Nouvel, David Salle, Zaha Hadid, and even artists like Lenny Kravitz, Daphne Guinness and Tom Dixon.
Essentially, we democratize access to branded design of living spaces by combining world-renowned designers with the latest advances in construction technology.
What challenges do you face as a business?
No worthwhile endeavour is without challenges. When all’s said and done, we are shipping homes. It is not exactly as easy as shipping a pair of shoes or a washing machine. It is a much more complicated job—which is why our work has initially been confined to neighbouring SEA countries.
But not for long.
We are making moves to penetrate the American, Middle-Eastern and European markets as well. We want to be the global leader in designer prefabricated structures. No, we will be the global leader in designer prefabricated structures.
What are the company’s fundraising and expansion plans?
We are looking to have Revolution Precrafted offices in 20 countries—UAE, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, USA, Mexico, UK, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. And the list just keeps on growing.
Global domination is our end goal.
What is your short-term and long-term vision for Revolution Precrafted?
Our short-term goal is to have at least four to five offices within Southeast Asia this year. Our long-term goal is and always has been to be the largest designer home supplier in the world, to be the Ikea of homebuilding.
What were your main markets last year? What new markets are you looking to penetrate next?
Our main markets are in Southeast Asia. We are looking to penetrate Europe, South America, and North America in a big way.
The Philippines’ startup up community lags behind its neighbouring markets in terms of funding and expansion. What would be your advice to young Filipinos planning to start their own companies?
It is not like we have fewer brilliant people here. It is more of the lack of funding. If you do not have access to capital in the Philippines, be resourceful and go abroad. There are other countries like Malaysia or Indonesia, where there are more early-stage VC funds than the Philippines. Go pitch to them.
Passion is not enough; obsession is key. You have to be extremely ambitious. Believe in your vision; see it through. Giving up should never be an option.