The $1 billion construction startup CEO selling readymade homes to the rich and famous

Heir to a fortune in his native Philippines, Robbie Antonio is crafting his own path to success, by constructing pre-fabricated and glamorous designer houses across the world
The $1 billion construction startup CEO selling readymade homes to the rich and famous
Antonio’s prefabricated home revolution has even attracted interest from celebrities such as Paris Hilton
By Shayan Shakeel and Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sun 16 Sep 2018 08:27 AM

Revolution Precrafted, global company that supplies designer, collectible, transportable and limited-edition homes, pavilions and other structures, is aiming to be nothing less than the world’s biggest supplier of homes and an instantly recognizable household name around the globe – with CEO and founder Robbie Antonio at its helm.

Established in December 2015, Revolution Precrafted specialises in the construction of pre-fabricated, made-to-order homes designed by some of the world’s most prominent, award winning-architects such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc, Philip Johnson and Alan Ritchie. Despite being unique and impressive, Revolution Precrafted says the homes are constructed at a fraction of the cost of commissioned designed built using traditional construction methods.

A year after the company was founded with a tiny workforce of just five employees, a Series B funding round led by Singapore-based VC firm Venture Global raised the start-up’s valuation to over $1bn, making it the first ‘unicorn’ start-up from the Philippines’ and allowing the company to establish a vast footprint in a number of global markets, including Italy, Japan and the UAE. The company’s workforce has also now ballooned to over 500, including its highly active salesforce.

Regionally, Revolution Precrafted earlier this year penned a $3.2bn deal with luxury developer Seven Tides to design, supply and install two-and three-bedroom condominium apartments and villas on Dubai’s the World Islands, which Antonio has said he expects to bring in between $300m and $500m worth of sales from the ambitious project.

Additionally, in June, Revolution Precrafted penned a deal with Bahrain’s Property One Investment Company (Property 1) to supply 500 modular “eco-villas” over the next five years. The four-bedroom villas will measure up to 200 sq-m each, and will be valued starting at $320,000 each.

Antonio, however, says he is just getting started in the region, and recently revealed to Arabian Business that Revolution has plans to open a Dubai office within the next three months, from where he believes the company can get multiple projects as the company actively seeks opportunities for expansion across the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

At the moment, the company has projects in 24 countries such as Myanmar, Japan, Spain, Cyprus Brazil, El Salvador, among others. It is expected to deliver 35,000 units in the next four to five years. Over the last six months alone, it has bagged over $8bn worth of big tickets projects including the $1.2bn Okkyin project in Myanmar with KT Group.

There is a lot of talk about Revolution Precrafted being the “Philippines’ first Unicorn start-up”. How have you managed to achieve a $1bn valuation in such a short period of time?

Unlike other prefab companies which check two or three things, such as speed, and affordability, with some of them offering tech solutions as well, we offer something more. We have all those three elements plus designer brands and we are truly global.

What is the revolution about? What is the main mission of the company?

We wanted to address the pain points most consumers have when buying a house. It’s usually very costly and it takes a lot of time to build a home. So we decided to combine technology and design to create designer, limited edition prefab homes that can be built in as fast as two to three months. More than that, we create designs that are accessible to more people, with price points beginning at $10,000 per unit. Of course, we also have the branded designs that can cost from $60,000 to $350,000

‘Precrafted’ carries some connotations, and ones contrary to the image that you are putting out there. How do you aim to reconcile the two perceptions?

Heading into the business, we are aware of the misconceptions about prefab, and that is why we created a different business model. We deliberately sought out some of the best architects, designers and artists in the world to make the market realise that prefabs can also be elegant, beautiful and branded.

Can you give us some examples of some of the high-end luxury contracts you’ve signed – what makes them unique and when you’ll be delivering them by?

We have more than 30 active contracts at the moment and some of them involve high-end luxury homes. For example, we are building 500 units in Bahrain with each units measuring at least 200 sqm. These are homes that are specifically designed for the Middle East. We also have high-end projects in Brazil, Japan, and, most recently, in San Bernardino, California. Of course, we are also in the process of finalising the designs for the structures we are suppling to Seven Tides, for the World Islands project.

What made you want to take such an active part in the industry and was it always your ambition?

I’ve always been interested in real estate but I wanted to create something different. I wanted to excel at something new. So I thought of prefab structures, but then I was thinking of how to make it totally new and interesting. That’s when the idea of a branded prefab homes came to me. Before our company was founded, the idea of a branded prefab structures was an oxymoron since most people don’t usually associate prefab units with quality and luxury or good design. I am glad that we were successful at setting the trend.

Back to the business, you have global aspirations. Where do you want to take this business?

We dream big at Revolution Precrafted. We want to be present in 25 countries by the end of 2018 and it looks like we will easily achieve that since we are now present in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. For the next two years, we want to be present in at least 100 countries.

Where do you see Revolution Precrafted in the next five years?

I expect Revolution Precrafted to be everywhere. We expect the company to be a ubiquitous and to be serving a wide range of clients around the world. We have grown by 1,000 percent in revenues and we are profitable. We are expecting to be present in 100 countries in 2020.

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