tv Bloombergs Studio 1.0 Bloomberg November 17, 2018 5:30am-6:01am EST
♪ haslinda: hello. i am haslinda amin in singapore. his love of modern art has made him one of the most prolific young collectors in the world. he is the son of a property tycoon in the philippines. with his passion for design is hoping to create a real estate revolution. robbie antonio is today's high flyer. his family fortune was built on properties, a fortune that has given him access to some of the worlds most powerful designers and celebrities.
from paris hilton to giorgio armani to america's first family. the antonios have their own trump tower in downtown manila. antonio's father founded sentry properties, one of the leading real estate groups, but it is robbie hoping to take the industry to a whole new level. ♪ haslinda: robbie antonio, welcome to "high flyers." robbie: thank you for having me here. haslinda: what is the inspiration behind revolution? robbie: i have been doing real estate for a long time. haslinda: because dad is a real estate developer. robbie: yes, i grew up in that environment. i really wanted to disrupt the space. i understand the obstacles, the
issues, the pain points, shall we say, of the industry, right? the traditional real estate developer is a high capital expenditure game. own the land, inventory, getting construction, getting massive amounts of people to sell your product. i wanted the complete opposite. no inventory, built on demand. i supply to everyone. it is very site-specific. to have a really global ambition, to be ubiquitous and prevalent everywhere, i needed an idea of transportability, so i started investigating this notion of prefabricated products, really, and i saw it was a very fragmented industry altogether. haslinda: so when was the eureka moment, the lightbulb moment? robbie: the eureka moment was trying to disrupt that space and make it more interesting and
sexy. prefab has existed. it is kind of a banal topic, not so pleasant looking homes, not so desirable. the challenge was how do you make it so interesting, how do you get the level of desirability that people will be like, i get it and i love it. haslinda: prefab and luxury don't go hand-in-hand at all. robbie: exactly. it is an oxymoron. haslinda: what were the initial response, challenges you faced? robbie: first, i called it precrafted as opposed to prefabricated. so already the position is very different. to do that, who designs houses? an architect. i started with that basis in mind. if i can convince the world's best architects and designers to do this for a wide array of people, then i am doing something good, i think. the company is doing something good, because it is about end-users, how you feel about
your home. haslinda: what was your pitch? how did you convince the first architect to come on board? robbie: i actually started with the most difficult ones. it is easier to convince others when you go for the most, shall we say, well-known ones, right? so i had to aim really high to begin with. haslinda: that was? robbie: one was a woman, just before she passed away. she designed one of the products. we feel blessed to have her have designed this. for the other homes, other pritzkers. one, who i absolutely adore and love. he is even doing amenity space, prefabricated museums. it is this race to convince people and try to produce this expeditiously.
haslinda: what about naysayers? robbie: there still are. haslinda: why aren't they convinced this can work and take off and be a billion dollar company? robbie: i don't think the naysayers saying, will this work? as big as you guys aspire to be. i think people see the potential, and those are the people banking on us right now. haslinda: unlike entrepreneurs and startups, you come from money. your dad is one of the biggest developers in the philippines. yet, when you started out, you refused to get funding from dad. why is that? robbie: first and foremost in -- robbie: i wasn't trying to make a statement.
it was more the independence, and i did not want to force a business on my dad for other people. haslinda: did he buy into the idea? robbie: very much so. it is a different shade of product. so if we can fill a void in a market and there is demand for something desirable at the right price, i think you are hitting something close to someone's heart, right? that is appealing to a lot of owners. haslinda: do you see the risk in this business? what risk do you see? are you comforted by the fact there is a safety net? robbie: look, i mean, i don't think that way. this has to succeed. there is no other option. not just for the optics, really. it is about trying to disrupt the space. i am inspired by other people. i am inspired by airbnb, who has done it for the hospitality space. to truly disrupt an industry is a very gargantuan -- it is a mammoth, a task or an ambition, right?
caroline hyd and to try to do ty is even bigger, but i realized very quickly on that you need to think large, as much as we like to serve southeast asia, which is already 600 million people, we would like to serve the world, but very strategic. i call it three phases of geographical expansion. southeast asia, asia in general, then we do middle east and europe, and america as well. ♪ haslinda: you come across as really ambitious. why are you in such a hurry? robbie: i mean, that is just sort of my personality to begin with. beyond the unicorn, i am thinking how to become successful. ♪
haslinda: robbie, revolution precrafted was born in the philippines, but you want to take it global. where are you in the journey? robbie: we launched december 2015, really launched it at the design fair at miami art basel. we wanted to show the art and the creative aspect. we wanted to position it as an object of art. the most expensive purchase a human being has ever is the house, so we wanted to make it desirable. it has been close to two years since then, and we have closed 11 developmental deals, central america, north america, all throughout asia. we are an almost two years start up, but we have had fortunately for us some good success. haslinda: financing always the
big issue for startups, including for revolution. you have tapped the likes of start up 500. who else are you looking in terms of investing and how much are you looking to raise? robbie: 500 startups is the most prolific vc fund in the world. haslinda: they came to you. robbie: they saw the vision. other sovereign funds, family offices, and even real estate entrepreneurs see the vision and see what they could achieve in terms of cost savings, and really positioning their land bank and their master plan differently, given the products we have, which is beyond homes right now. haslinda: you know what, you come across as really ambitious. why are you in such a hurry? robbie: i mean that is just sort of my personality to begin with. beyond the unicorn, i am forward
thinking personally and professionally. and i like to see, i mean, you have to have a clear roadmap to achieving it, because you can't just take it one day at a time. haslinda: all entrepreneurs go through the trough. what challenges would you say are the biggest you had to overcome to get to where you are today, and what challenges do you perceive to be for the future? robbie: the challenges, and it is still challenging, it gets easier when you convince -- it is two things, right? we are almost an i.t. company. we have 61 of the world's best architects, designers, product designers, interior designers, celebrities who are relevant to creating spaces. global exclusivity with all of them. over 100 types of products. one individual can do 2-3 types of products for us, so getting the first two, first three, the most difficult part. after you have convinced major seller names, you are able to do that.
it is a roadmap. for financing in general, you have a company like grab, amazing company. my friend anthony just closed a round of $6 billion valuation. i'm sure it's the most bible start up in southeast asia right now. he is super focused. you see the same dna, i think, in entrepreneurs that you talk to here as well, that forward thinking nature, extreme focus and ambition to try to achieve everything and trying really to remove all obstacles. haslinda: truth be told, you have worked with the host in the architectural world and the designer world, yet some people are still not convinced that they should be on board. who are these people, and why not? truth be told. robbie: truth be told, i would love to work with frank geary. right?
he is busy doing the louis vuitton museum in paris. i have written him. i have reached out to his team. that is still a journey for me. we are working with six pritzker prize architects right now, which is really the nobel laureate or the pulitzer prize of architecture. just one per year since 1977. the first one was philip johnson, who has passed away years ago, but we are working with his firm and the national trust to do modular homes by philip, which he created for himself. so it has been really inspiring, and not just for me personally, it is sharing that expense with the end-user. i love partnering in collaborations. ultimately i think of the end-user in mind. some people may not see it that way. some people may see it as collaboration for collaboration's sake. the true value is when someone lives in that house done by a pritzker prize architect for
such an accessible price, no one has had that goal and been able to do that. haslinda: has there been concern that such projects worth maybe $300,000 may cheapen the value of the product? robbie: it started with the average of $300,000, thinking my reference was america, trying to be less expensive on a per square foot or per meter basis, vis-a-vis the highest designer prefab companies. when you are doing things in asia, i had to go lower. i'm trying to average $70,000 now, trying really to cater to the mid-markets or mass prestige market, and to do that, you have to be very cost-effective and very budget conscious. i don't think it is dilution. if the people did think that was the case, they would not have signed up for it.
in fact, i think design market is a good thing, not a bad thing. think about it. if you are able to live in the designer home you wanted to -- and he happens to be a designer. you listen to the music of lenny kravitz and love his style, now you can live in a home by interior design. it is a great thing. ♪ haslinda: now i want to take you to project obsession. robbie: which part of that? haslinda: [laughter] you have commissioned artist to draw portraits of you, which are now, i guess hanging in your home. ♪
three of us before carlo was born, and that was fun. i miss those days. we are now in a different setting, obviously much older people, and we work together in the family business as well, so that is sort of an interesting evolution of relationships. but we are quite close and remain a close-knit family. haslinda: we are right to say that the u.s. changed a lot of things for you, when you went there to be educated. robbie: yes. haslinda: you found a sense of freedom and independence. robbie: yes. haslinda: fair statement to make? robbie: yes, that is a very fair statement. i would say being emancipated and having freedom is one of the best feelings. i wasn't interested in the best practice for the best consulting firms.
i wanted to be an entrepreneur, and i grew up in real estate. i wanted to do something, but do it my way in terms of different shading. and i think my journey and what is challenging for me is something not so easy. that is my impetus. that is what drives me. because it is really trying to prove it to myself because it is so difficult to achieve. i would like to take that journey. i would like to take that first step, and let me figure this out and if i fail, i am the only one to blame. i was in new york for five years, did a great project there, moved back to the philippines because of the high gdp growth rate, because it is an emerging country. it used to be a sick dog of asia, labeled as such, but now obviously fastest in terms of gdp growth. that was very interesting to see. haslinda: it is no secret that you love art. you are obsessed with art. but you are self-taught when it comes to art. robbie: yes. haslinda: how did that come about? robbie: firstly, i am interested in reading and learning. i am an inquisitive individual.
it is not about collecting for me. it is about learning art history. i actually go to -- haslinda: you are a huge collector. you go to every high-profile auction, as far as i am told. robbie: ok. [laughter] somehow, in certain fairs -- it's also work for me, because i work with artists. it is creativity. i guess i love doing creative projects, and for me to inject creativity or whatever i have and trying to absorb that from other people makes the entire process extremely exhilarating. haslinda: but what about art that inspires you and got you hooked? robbie: it is really trying to, first of all, there is a lot of art. seeing the journey of a specific world is interesting, and it is interesting who will make art history, right? what will differentiate artist x from y? i like to take mental notes for myself.
but it is really learning who made the impact in history, because whether it is the world of design or fashion, it is how you take creativity or even the world of business and take it to a whole different level. and i would love to see that journey and support them. i would love to work with them. haslinda: it is also an investment. robbie: yes, it has to be a calculated investment. you also, that is why there is so much research. we do so much research on pricing, on provenance, who owns this, where have they exhibited. the same kind of philosophy has led me to sort of do this in business as well, right? it is really taking an artist out of his realm of painting and sculpting and taking it to design a house, and taking a fashion designer who is used to doing a great shoe or great clothing for men and women, to make him or her interior design
something. that taking out of the comfort zone, i want to be part of the journey of creativity. robbie: ok, which part of that? haslinda: [laughter] every aspect of obsession. you have commissioned artists to draw portraits of you, which are now, i guess, hanging in your home. what is the thinking behind that? why did you commission artists to do that? robbie: first of all, as i was saying, i love collaborating with artists and collaborating with creative people. haslinda: we are talking about dozens of portraits. robbie: yeah, but it could have been a different subject. it could be a topic on your or your watch or something else, but to be a subject, actually, of an artist is the most creative part, because you have to act and react and there is this dialogue. that dialogue inspires me for creating things.
so that was the, sort of, something i was thinking as a factor for deciding that. haslinda: were you curious about the interpretation of robbie antonio? robbie: i was intrigued by it, i mean, how one x or y would portray you. yes, it was interesting to me, because i had to pick one subject, right? so it had to be something i was knowledgeable about. basically if you don't know yourself, that is a problem, and how people perceive that from their different set of eyes, literally speaking, because they have to paint. haslinda: do you see yourself as a role model or inspiration for others? robbie: i don't see myself as a role model, but i would love to inspire people. really the concept of entrepreneurship, you know, i would love to elevate the philippines to be a more tech-savvy and really try to bolster culture, right? why do more pritzker museums? in southeast asia, there is a dearth of that, right?
why all these designer homes? because no one is doing it. if you can do that in the philippines in southeast asia, tried to do it for the rest of the world. if that inspires people, that is personally fulfilling for me. right? that is the sharing part. haslinda: robbie antonio, thank you for being on "high flyers." it has been a pleasure. robbie: thank you very much. haslinda: thank you. ♪
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