For homeowners interested in the future of homeownership and residential construction, we strongly recommend keeping tabs on Paolo Tiramani, the CEO of Boxabl, the disruptive, prefab modular manufacturer.

Tiramani was recently interviewed by Matthew Sullivan of Hooked on Startups, a podcast that shares business and life lessons from highly talented and successful entrepreneurs. Sullivan is also the CEO of QuantmRE, a financial services firm focused on the shared equity home space.

Though Tiramani is gaining increasing media exposure due to exploding interest in Boxabl, we found this interview to be especially valuable, as it free flows into topics involving the long term impact that the Boxabl venture may have on homeownership and the home building industry for years to come.

During Boxabl’s short tenure, Tiramani’s son, Galiano Tiramani, has taken on the brunt of wide-ranging media inquiries, serving as the de facto Boxabl brand evangelist. While Galiano’s focus has been more on communicating updates on the progress and features of the premier product, the Casita, Paolo is best leveraged, in our opinion, by sharing his vision for Boxabl’s future and that of the construction industry at large.

As any new venture can be critiqued for being too optimistic, it is important to note that Paolo’s casual and cheerful disposition is a result of having been a successful industrial designer for many years, selling patents and other intellectual property that have succeeded commercially. In short, he knows as well as anyone the importance of getting the details right.

That said, the interview comes across as an opportunity to eavesdrop on an informal, amicable conversation between two seasoned executives discussing some rather interesting topics. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Video courtesy of Hooked On Startups.


Key Takeaways

For those short on time, here are key takeaways that we discerned, having been familiar with the company and Tiramani’s background.

Disclaimer: These interpretations should not be taken as literal statements or positions by either Mr. Tiramani or Mr. Sullivan. The transcript of the interview is available on the Hooked On Startups website to confirm any details of the conversation.


Transitioning Home Building from Pre-Industrial to Post-Industrial Capabilities

Though we are aware of pundits who have negatively opined on past attempts to cross-pollinate methods, patterns and materials from nature to industry or from one industry (e.g. software) to another (e.g. construction), we are full believers in emulating virtuous processes and systems to new application areas.

We sense that Tiramani is a believer, as well, as he is driven to bring residential construction out of a pre-industrial state into a post-industrial era. He wants to transition the construction industry from building by hand, to using the same factory capabilities that are engaged for all other modern products.

Boxabl’s strategic capabilities will not only provide state-of-the-art product design, manufacturing and automation, but they will also leverage proprietary IP (intellectual property) through the licensing of their “production stack”, especially internationally. In essence, they will spawn and replicate their capabilities with licensees throughout the world, seeding marketplaces that will quickly need follow-on Boxabl products and solutions for years to come.


Delivering Consumer Freedom

As to be expected, Tiramani and his company are pursuing many concepts concurrently, but one underlying theme that stood out to us was the concept of Consumer Freedom. Starting with the “Tiny Home Folks”, Tiramani implied that they desire mobility and affordability that does not financially suffocate their lifestyles (our words). We see this concept of Consumer Freedom being fully encapsulated by the following house traits:

  • Affordability
  • Increased Buying Power
  • Flexibility
  • Transformability
  • Durability
  • Reliability
  • Predictability
  • Scalability
  • Quality
  • Mobility
  • Adaptability

Key Strategic Capabilities

Here is a list of capabilities that Boxabl is developing that we believe will largely deliver on this “promise of freedom” to future homeowners:

  • Mass Customization & Personalization
    • Boxabl has narrowed their focus by conceding that most homes are in boxes, made of rectangular rooms
    • Boxabl’s design approach is to be architecturally neutral, allowing partners to customize the interior and “dress” the exterior
    • Assembly partners will customize to a particular architectural style, e.g. A-frame, contemporary, colonial, etc.
    • Rooms can be divided, stacked, and connected
    • Boxabl’s role is to do the “heavy lifting” of producing fully functional rooms to be installed, connected and “finished” by on-site by assemblers
    • Boxabl will deliver a balance of low-pricing with personalized preferences
    • Completed homes will be managed by 3rd-Party Partners (e.g. installers, builders, designers)
  • Shippability
    • The foldable Casita is already designed to leverage existing transportation channels: flatbed tractor trailers, trains and cargo ships
    • Conversely, legacy prefab shipping involves wide loads requiring extra follow cars, restricted routes, restricted travel times, police escorts and more cost
    • Boxabl allows for farther shipping potential than that of status quo modular builders
    • Boxabl facilitates lower delivery costs than status quo modular builders
  • Scalability
    • Boxabl’s new 172,000 square foot factory (AKA Factory 1 AKA Giant Baby) will serve as a production prototype to fine tune configuration for their future 4 million square foot super factory
    • The initial production goal of Factory 1 is to produce one house every 90 minutes, equating to 3,600 per year
    • The production goals of the 4 million square foot factory will be markedly more ambitious than Factory 1
    • Boxabl has leveraged best-of-breed Porsche Consulting to spec out the capabilities and design of Boxabl’s initial and subsequent factories
    • Delivering 100% full automation will be critical in order to reduce pricing dramatically
  • “Legacy Leaping”
    • Boxabl plans to build to a new, higher-quality building code that surpasses the bureaucracy of 50 states, such that their method will eventually become a new national standard
    • Boxabl will use technology, material sciences and automation to mitigate persistent legacy issues, such as: labor shortage; too many manual processes; transportation limitations and costs; narrow rooms; weak structural integrity; etc.
    • Boxabl’s new approach to building will help grow an emerging marketplace of Disaster Resistant Homes, while outperforming on energy ratings, as well
  • Mobility/Reusability
    • Though the “foldability” of the Casita is the most memorable trait of this popular tiny home, we were pleasantly surprised when Tiramani reiterated that it has also been designed to be refolded and moved, when desired
    • Boxabl boxes can be folded, moved, unfolded, modified, refolded and moved again
    • Scenarios for “refolding” could include:
      • Not liking your neighbors, local property tax rates, or local schooling
      • Leaving for a new job elsewhere
      • Moving to a better neighborhood or parcel of land
  • Design for Production
    • Design for Production/Manufacturing is a critical skill for Boxabl to master, in order to scale and deliver high-quality, high-precision products
  • System Integration
    • Though we have not heard Tiramani mention the term “system integration”, their approach to value-added partnerships is a perfect example of this discipline
    • Similar to professionals serving the Home Automation industry, post-industrial prefab builders will evolve into being home integrators, or perhaps construction integrators, in our opinion. They will be responsible for delivering the final product, traditionally called “home”
    • Boxabl will also serve as a home integrator/aggregator by incorporating value-add materials, appliances and features in the factory
    • Not all partnerships will be motivated by profit, but instead improving the overall customer experience and end product (e.g. partnership with Permits.com)
    • Boxabl University will be used to qualify Boxabl installers and maintain quality standards
    • Installers will have incentive to maintain high standards, as Boxabl will be feeding them customers
    • Partners will be supported by Boxabl with free, reusable plans, customer support programs, and Boxabl University training & certification
    • Prediction: Marketplaces will arise to help industry professionals and homebuyers find ideas, plans and service providers
  • Affordability
    • All of the capabilities being developed by Boxabl will contribute to lower pricing, becoming more efficient over time
    • Though the current Casita model has been favorably received at a $50,000 price point, Tiramani made sure to point out that homebuyers understand that this is a “component cost”, as several other costs and activities are involved before it is “move-in ready”, such as: purchasing land; paving the driveway; connecting utilities to the house; landscaping; etc.
  • Quality
    • The beauty of Boxabl’s approach to high efficiency and lower costs is to establish a level of profitability that will support the inclusion of high quality materials, appliances and features
    • Though Boxabl’s mission is to provide affordable housing, it is really to provide affordable, quality

We will leave you with these hopeful parting words from Paolo that paint a bright future for homeowners:

“You don’t think of a home delighting you, but I think a home should really delight you and I think the home should grow with you, and maybe ungrow with you.”
Paolo Tiramani, CEO of Boxabl

 


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