The fastest company in South East Asia to reach a valuation of $1bn, giving it prestigious ‘unicorn’ status, Revolution Precrafted is a global supplier of prefabricated homes, pavilions, furniture, museums, retail pop-ups, glamping accommodations and office spaces, and the only branded prefab company in the world.
The genius behind Revolution is Founder and CEO Robbie Antonio, whose entrepreneurial stock has skyrocketed alongside the valuation of his company. At just 41 years of age, Mr Antonio is one of the most successful real estate developers in the world. In both 2017 and 2018, he was the youngest person to be named on Forbes’ ‘Philippines’ 50 Richest’ list, alongside his father, Jose, chairman of the family’s flagship firm Century Properties. In this exclusive interview with The Australian Business Executive, Mr Antonio explains the history behind the inception of the company, the unique benefits of prefabricated design, and the brand’s ever-expanding global footprint.
At the time of Revolution’s inception, Mr Antonio was no stranger to the world of property development. After school, he began his own company in New York, Antonio Development, which focused on developing super-luxury projects in the US. “When I was in New York,” Mr Antonio says, “I thought of creating something groundbreaking that would challenge the status quo. I wanted something different within the industry, and so I thought of branded prefabricated structures.” Having worked with brands such as Armani Casa, Missoni, Versace Home, and The Trump Organization, building branded condominiums in the Philippines, Mr Antonio recognised the unique business opportunity in branded residential developments.
“We were clear with our mission from the very beginning – we wanted to democratise design, and we wanted to address some of the major pain points most customers have in buying homes.” In early 2017, the company completed a Series A funding round worth $15.4m, led by prolific Silicon Valley start-up accelerator 500 Startups, putting the company’s overall valuation at $256m. In October of the same year, Revolution was tipped over the $1 billion mark after a fresh round of funding led by K2 VC, a Singaporean venture capital firm and family strategic investment. Mr Antonio’s ambition to build a unicorn company had come to fruition in record time, a milestone achieved by harnessing a powerful network of cutting-edge technologies and cost-efficient production systems to create precrafted properties at reasonable prices.
Fast and cost-efficient service
The company’s USP is its ability to build homes at staggering speed, sometimes as fast as 2-3 months, which allows projects to be completed significantly faster and more efficiently than those involving traditional homes. “In terms of cost,” Mr Antonio explains, “we are able to lower down costs since we use prefabricated materials produced using advanced robotics. The faster turnaround also helps brings down cost for the buyers.” A big part of the company’s appeal comes from giving customers the opportunity to have a prefabricated home delivered directly to their doorstep. In today’s on-demand world, having an entire home delivered quickly and easily is a very attractive proposition.
“The first step is to identify the design you want. We then work out the payment structure and get a down payment. Once we reach a certain threshold of payment, then we start the fabrication process.” Once the project has reached this point, the fabricated materials are shipped to the target location and assembled with help from local contractors, ensuring that the structure is compliant with local codes and standards. In order to deliver on its promise of high-design and forward-thinking architecture, Revolution has brought together over 80 of the world’s preeminent architects, artists and designers, all working in harmony to deliver the company’s unique vision.
“After launching in December 2015,” Mr Antonio says, “we made a conscious effort to reach out to some of the biggest names in the world of architecture to show the people that it is possible to create branded homes with our value proposition.” Bringing together such an impressive mix of professionals was not an easy task, and could only be achieved through determination and hard work. Mr Antonio’s previous experience gave the company the edge in securing the services of the best in the business. “There were a lot of questions, but when we explained our mission, there was a lot of approval and support. After having the approval of some big names, there was even more support from the business, design, and architecture communities.”
Launched in December 2017, Revolution Precrafted’s first project was the ambitious $1.1 billion Batulao Artscapes in the Philippines, a space positioned as ‘The World’s First Livable Art Park’, and mirroring Mr Antonio’s passion for fashion, design, art and architecture. The park features museums and homes designed by some of the world’s most creative and influential architects, and designers such as Pritzker Prize winners Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc, Tange Associates and Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects. In March of this year, the company launched a follow up project located in the Philippines’ Pampanga province, Revolution Flavorscapes, the world’s first and only livable food park. The company is expected to supply 15,000 homes for the park.
The park features a Museum of Candy, a Museum of Ice Cream, a chocolate gallery, and a microbrewery with beer garden. The company will also soon be unveiling work in Rizal project, which promises to offer another unique proposition to customers.
“We have always considered our company to be a global brand,” Mr Antonio explains, “with roots in the Philippines. Our operations, process and mindset are global, and the skills and the talent of our team are world-class.” In business for under three years, Revolution’s global footprint is already highly impressive. The company is present in 27 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, North and Central America, and the Caribbean. “We now have over $8.7 billion in total project revenues with our partners in the next 3-4 years. This translates to about 36,000 units we have to deliver in the next few years. We are, however, in the middle of an aggressive business roadshow to expand our client portfolio.”
This worldwide roadshow is intended to grow the business’ global presence significantly, the aim being to be present in 35 countries by the end of 2018, and reaching 85 to 100 by the end of the decade. Some progress has already been made in this area. A recent company statement announced that Revolution had signed a non-exclusive dealership agreement with African Tsaleach Private Ltd., a Zimbabwe-based investment firm, to begin manufacturing prefabricated medical pop-up structures on the continent. This move into Africa secured the company’s 25th global market, putting it well on the way to its yearly growth target. Equally important is identifying further markets inside the continents within which it already works.
In response to improved economic conditions in the Middle East, the company is seeking to further expand its portfolio to countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Oman and Saudi Arabia, with the intention of creating at least 10,000 units in the next 4-5 years. The brand’s global appeal is particularly strong, but the company’s achievements in South East Asia greatly surpass those of others in the region, and there is clearly an element of pride in representing the Philippines so positively. “You can’t help but feel glad to represent your country in a highly competitive industry,” Mr Antonio goes on to explain. “We just hope to sustain our growth to make the country proud.”
The Revolution model is likely to have an impact on affordable housing throughout the world. In particular, there are opportunities in Australia and New Zealand, where there is already high-exposure to prefabricated homes. “We are confident that Australia and New Zealand would be welcome to our business model given the speed, efficiency and technology we are offering. Also, there is a big opportunity in the branded prefab niche, and we want to explore that opportunity.” The company’s move into this market has already begun, with Revolution recently announcing a deal for a new project, the Alibaba Lifestyle Village Resort, to be completed in the town of River Heads in Queensland, 18km south of the city of Hervey Bay.
A recent media release detailed a preliminary agreement with Lifestyle Village Trust No 2 for the supply of residential prefab building components in this upscale lifestyle village, making Australia the 26th international market the company has entered. The complex will be the first of its kind in Australia, and will cater to both short-stay and long-term residents. Revolution will be required to co-design and supply 53 single ‘dual-key’ residences, ranging from 2 to 4 bedrooms. Revolution’s rise looks set to continue for some time to come. Recent reports suggest that the company will consider raising a further $100m in a Series C funding round in 2019, something Mr Antonio has claimed is all part of the long-term game-plan. Whatever the future has in store, Robbie Antonio and Revolution Precrafted have already made a big splash in the PropTech world. This unicorn looks set to keep on riding, and who knows how far it will go to revolutionise the real estate industry.
Find out more about Revolution Precrafted by visiting www.revolutionprecrafted.com.