We’re not fanboys of startup founders. As a team, we’ve met some of the top founders in the world and still come out unfazed. However, if we had to be a bit of a fanboy it might be for Robbie Antonio, the founder of The Philippines first unicorn startup, Revolution Precrafted.
Hailing from a family in the construction and real estate development, Robbie was destined to walk this path. However, being a disruptor in the industry might not have been something anyone, other himself, could have predicted.
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Nicknamed ‘Dynamo’, it is no surprise that Robbie is often described as flamboyant. In a startup ecosystem filled with techies and stoic businessmen, this is quite a refreshing change. It has also helped him attract some of the top architects and designers to collaborate on designs for prefabs or prefabricated structures.
He took the time out of his business schedule traveling to answer a few questions regarding his journey so far and the future of his company.
Developing and delivering prefabricated buildings isn’t exactly a commonly heard about the industry. Could you explain how that works?
Prefab structures have existed even before I started Revolution Precrafted but the industry is quite segmented with a few players concentrating on one particular product or aspect of the production chain. Also, prefab structures had a negative connotation before, with people believing that prefab structures do not possess the highest quality and that they are not necessarily pretty. People think they are affordable and ordinary. We created a unique business proposition that challenges and debunks all these misconceptions and myths about the prefab industry. We created prefab structures that boast amazing designs by partnering with some of the world’s leading architects, designers and artists. We also branded these structures, which helped changed the landscape of the prefab industry.
In a recent interview, you were quoted as saying “I want to be Uber, I want to be Airbnb. I want to be everywhere” in terms of being a global powerhouse brand. How do you foresee growth in the next five years and which regions are going to fuel that growth?
We are very open with our goal of expanding to about 25 countries this year and guess what? We are very near to surpassing that goal at 21 signed countries. Still, we want to be ubiquitous and be present in over 55 countries by the year 2019 and to about 85 countries by the year 2020.
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We want to be a company that is part of the lives of people. We want to be seen as a company that is global in operations and capabilities.
As one of the few profitable unicorn startups in Southeast Asia, did you see your business growing this quickly?
To be honest, we did. We had faith in the different business model and value proposition even when we were just starting out. It was important for us to secure the partnership with some of the leading names in architecture, design, and art in order to gain the street credibility. Once we secured the brands and our revolutionaries, we instantly felt the overwhelming curiousity and demand from the public.
What challenges did you face growing your rather disruptive business in a crowded market full of large local and global players? The incumbents must have been quite resistant to your business.
We believe that that prefab market still had a lot of room for players when we started. In the first place, we offer designer prefab homes and structures, and not simply any kind of prefab. For developers, we don’t consider them as competitors but rather as potential partners.
We are agnostic and we can partner with any developer to create residential, and hotel developments here and abroad. This is part of what makes our business model work. We can seek out partnerships with any developer in the Philippines and abroad.
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Your success is quite well documented and that usually means more competitors entering the market. Have you noticed other companies trying to enter your space and sell prefabricated buildings?
Yes, we have. Not directly, but the idea of to create IP-based structures is the same.
Where do you see your industry in the next decade or so? Will it be like the ride-sharing industry with widespread acceptance and a crowded market, or still a growing industry?
We hope to be the biggest home supplier in the world in close to 200 countries. We are targeting to be in 25 countries at the end of the year, 55 countries in 2019 and 85 countries by the year 2020.