Revolution Precrafted’s Robbie Antonio, the man behind the billion-dollar startup, is disrupting prefabricated real estate as the world knows it.
Between being the founder of the Philippines’ first unicorn startup valued over a billion dollars, the youngest person to be listed in Forbes’ 2017 list of 50 richest in the Philippines, and spearheading the marriage of technology, real estate and creativity world over, it would suffice to say that Robbie Antonio is no normal person. This fits right into the burgeoning tycoon’s leadership philosophy, as he explains, “If I were normal in my leadership style, then I would simply be normal. One cannot achieve status of this nature if one were simply normal.”
Hailing from a family with deep rooted heritage in real estate and property development, one might say that the business runs in Robbie’s blood. His father, Jose B Antonio established Century Properties in 1986, where Robbie currently holds the title of Managing Director. He also started his own company, Antonio Development, through which he completed his first round of residential projects in the Plaza district of Manhattan. In Manila, his primary focus was on branded housing partnerships such as The Trump Tower, Milano Residences by Versace and Azure by Paris Hilton, to name a few.
But despite his success, Robbie increasingly found that he wanted to create something new; something that the world had yet to see. Thus, his revolutionary brainchild was born.
Trajectory To The Top
Founded in 2015, Revolution Precrafted is the world’s only branded housing company. As Robbie explains, “There are many prefabricated construction companies. But we are the only branded one.” Robbie also identifies it as a property tech company, as it uses advanced robotics to speed up the process of prefab home construction. This means that people can now have a Pritzker Prize designed home for under US$100,000 that can be ready to move in within two months from start to finish: A revolution indeed
The company’s potential drew in a number of large investment names, who played an integral part in the company’s success. “It was angel investors first, after which 500 Startups, an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator, helped us achieve our biggest valuation. K2 Global came in towards Series B,” Robbie recalls. He adds that he aims to begin proceedings for a Series C round sometime next year.
Interestingly, Revolution Precrafted is not simply limited to housing. The company has built prefabricated fitness centres, pop-up retail spaces, dining pavilions and most recently, Batulao Artscapes – the world’s first ‘liveable art park’ in the Philippines. The latter is a sprawling 142-hectare project worth US$1.1 billion and will feature living communities and homes alongside art, design, technology and architecture museums. Another upcoming big ticket project involves building condominiums and hotel villas on nine of Dubai’s The World Islands. The deal is worth a whopping US$3.2 billion.
Robbie Antonio has established real estate collaborations with renowned designers such as Giorgio Armani.
The Only Unicorn In Town
Creating a unicorn is no easy feat, but Robbie knew this was something he wanted right from the start. “I was inspired by Airbnb and Uber. They are asset light with no inventory and are the two biggest unicorns out there that are truly global - not just confined to one region,” Robbie says. In fact, being asset light is exactly what allows Revolution Precrafted to expand and partner with developers around the world, while technology serves as their multiplier by way of creation and placing the product online.
In just two years, the company quickly rose to become the Philippines’ first ‘unicorn’, a name given to businesses with a valuation of or exceeding US$1 billion. In its short time on the ground, the company has turned a project revenue of over US$8 billion and boasts partnerships with over 80 globally celebrated architects such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Alan Ritchie.
At present, Revolution Precrafted has 29 ongoing projects in 21 countries, and this does not include the South American and Indian markets, which the company hopes to enter soon. The size and nature of this production volume is made possible by the company’s network of 700 fabricators across the globe.
A Winning Advantage
Given the nature of the company’s product and success, some may wonder about competition in the market. But as Robbie explains, competitors would have to work hard to overcome Revolution Precrafted’s current advantages. “First, there is the network of developers we have built. Second, we are working with three of the world’s best architects. In addition to these, this field is not new to me; when people ask how I close deals of such calibre, it is very important that I showcase my experience.”
Last but far from least, a large part of the company’s success can be attributed to Robbie’s personal passion for what he does. “It is hard to find someone as passionate or obsessed about design and branding as I am. From Hollywood, to Trump and all the fashion brands, I have probably built more branded towers than any developer in Southeast Asia. That is very hard to do,” he reveals.
This passion also directs Robbie’s schedule, as he confesses that he is set to visit 10 countries in the coming month – with just a night or two at each. But his innate desire to keep going and keep pushing is what drives him. “I sleep for a couple of hours and I am up at 5-5:30 am. It is just the way it is. Our team has to be built this way, if not, well then Revolution simply isn’t for them,” he states. Drawing inspiration from history’s greatest military leaders, Robbie identifies his style of leadership as tough enough to accomplish what he sets out to do. “You have to be innately different in terms of your style, your goals and your intrinsic values.”
The Polygon Home designed by Eduardo Calma will be one of the homes built by Revolution Precrafted for Batulao Artscapes, the world’s first ‘liveable art park’.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Notwithstanding the number of projects currently on his plate, Robbie is determined to keep moving onwards and upwards. One example of this is the company’s eventual IPO plans, with listing planned for either New York, London, Singapore or Hong Kong. “Our plan is to be in 85 countries by 2020; but we are probably going to exceed and hit 25 countries this year because we are already at 21 countries right now,” says Robbie.
The company plans to grow horizontally, which means it wants to stamp its footprint in as many countries as it can, given how fragmented this particular industry is. This gives Revolution Precrafted a chance to install interiors as well as homes, adding more holistic value to their name. Only then will they enter vertically and penetrate deep into specific markets of their choosing in Asia Pacific and Europe, and ultimately North America, which is an especially complicated and nuanced market. Creating smart homes to intensify and build up security is also on the cards. As Robbie sums it all up, “To be prolific is our key goal.”
Even with all these plans in tow, for Robbie, the game is only just getting started. He concludes, “We feel that we need to achieve hyper growth, show great numbers, and most importantly, show profitability. Many tech companies are growing incredibly fast in terms of revenue, but where is the profit? We want to accomplish both at the same time. Because that is a story worth telling.”
The prefabricated Volu Dining Pavilion by Zaha Hadid is a fusion of exceptional design, lightweight engineering and precision fabrication.
This article was first printed in MillionaireAsia Issue 49 - Sep 2018