tv Bloombergs Studio 1.0 Bloomberg November 18, 2018 3:30am-4:01am EST
haslinda: hello. i'm haslinda amin in singapore. his love of modern art has made him one of the most prolific young collectors in the world. he's the son of a property tycoon in the philippines. and 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 world's most powerful designers
and celebrities. from versace to paris hilton to giorgio armani to america's first family. the antonios have their own trump tower in downtown manila. robbie's father founded sentry properties, one of the leading real estate groups, but it's robbie who's hoping to take the industry to a whole new level. ♪ haslinda: robbie antonio, welcome to "high flyers." robbie: good morning, thanks for having me here. haslinda: what's the inspiration behind revolution? robbie: i've been doing real estate for a long time. haslinda: because dad is a real estate developer. robbie: yes, i grew up in that environment.
so 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. i own land, own 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. and it's 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 that it was a very fragmented industry altogether. haslinda: so when was the eureka moment, the lightbulb moment? robbie: the eureka moment was
trying to even disrupt that space and make it more interesting and sexy. because prefab has existed. it's kind of a banal topic, right, 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: but prefab and luxury don't go hand-in-hand at all. robbie: exactly, it's an oxymoron, right? 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 try to do that, who designs houses? an architect. so i started with that basis in mind. if i can convince the world's best architects and interior
designers to do this for a wide array of people, then i'm doing something good, i think. the company is doing something good, because it's 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's actually 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: and 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's done several projects. he's even doing amenity space, prefabricated museums. it's always this race to
convince people and try to produce this really expeditiously. haslinda: what about naysayers? robbie: there still are. haslinda: why? 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 -- haslinda: what statement were you making? robbie: i wasn't trying to make a statement. it's more the independence, and i didn't want to force a business on my dad for other
people. haslinda: did he buy into the idea? robbie: very much so. it's a different shade of product. so, if we can fill a void in a market, and there's demand for something desirable at the right price, i think you're hitting something close to someone's heart, right? that's appealing to a lot of owners. haslinda: do you see the risk in this business? what risk do you see? or 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's no other option. not just for the optics, really. it's about trying to disrupt the space. i am inspired by other people. i'm inspired by airbnb, who has done it for the hospitality space. right? to truly disrupt an industry is a very gargantuan -- it's a mammoth, a task or an ambition, right?
and to try to do this globally is even bigger, but i realized very, 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'd like to serve the world, but very strategic. i call it my three phases of geographical expansion. southeast asia, or 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's just sort of my personality to begin with. and beyond the unicorn, i'm always 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? -- two goingbal? global -- to going global? 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, really. the most expensive purchase a human being has ever really is the house, so we wanted to make it desirable. it's been close to two years since then, and we've closed 11 developmental deals, central america, north america, all throughout northeast asia. we're an almost two years start up, but we've had, fortunately for us, some good success.
haslinda: financing always the big issue for startups, including for revolution. you've tapped the likes of startup 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 funds in the world. haslinda: they came to you. robbie: they saw the vision. other sovereign funds, i'm talking to 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 that 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's just sort of my personality to begin with. and beyond the unicorn, i'm always thinking how can you become a decacorn?
i've always been a forward thinking individual both 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 would you say are the biggest challenges 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's still challenging up until now, it gets easier when you convince -- it's two things, right? we're 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. the 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, getting the first
three was always the most difficult part. after you have convinced major seller names, you're able to do that. it's 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 -- valued startup in southeast asia right now. he's 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've worked with the who's who 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'd love to work with frank geary. right? he's very busy doing the louis vuitton museum in paris. i've written him. i've reached out to his team. that's still a journey for me. we're 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're working with his firm and the national trust to do modular homes by philip, which he created for himself. so it's been really inspiring, and not just for me personally, it's sharing that expense with the end-user. i love partnering and
collaborations because 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. as an average, thinking my reference was america, trying to be less expensive on a per square foot or per meter basis, vis-a-vis the highest end prefab company for designer prefab companies. when you're 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, then 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 now able to live in the designer home you wanted to because you wear his clothes, 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. i think it's a great thing. ♪ haslinda: now, i want to take you to project obsession. robbie: okay, which part of that? haslinda: [laughter] you have commissioned artist to draw portraits of you, which are now, i guess hanging in your home. ♪
robbie: i mean, we all lived, at one point there was three of us, before carlo was born, and that was fun. i actually miss those days. we're now in a different setting, obviously much older people, and we work together in the family business as well, so that's sort of an interesting evolution of relationships. but we were quite close and remain a close-knit family. haslinda: am i right to say that the u.s. changed a lot of things for you, when you went there to be educated? you went there to have freedom. is that a fair statement to make? robbie: yes. haslinda: you found a sense of freedom and independence. robbie: yes. haslinda: fair statement to make? robbie: yes, that's 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 's challenging for me is something not so easy. i think that's my impetus. that's what drives me. because it's really trying to prove it to myself because it is so difficult to achieve. i would like to take that journey. i'd like to take that first step, and let me figure this out and if i fail, i'm 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's 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's 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'm interested in reading and learning. i'm an inquisitive individual. it's not about collecting for me. it's about learning art history. i actually go to -- haslinda: you're a huge collector. you go to every high-profile auction, as far as i'm told. robbie: ok. somehow, in certain fairs -- it's also work for me, because i work with artists. it's 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's 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
emerging artist from y? i like to take mental notes for myself. but it's really learning who made the impact in history, because whether it's the world of design or fashion, it's 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's also an investment. robbie: yes, it has to be a calculated investment. you also, that's 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's really taking an artist out of his realm of paint 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: now, i want to take you to project obsession. robbie: ok, which part of that? haslinda: [laughter] every aspect of obsession. you've commissioned artists to draw portraits of you, which are now, i guess, hanging in your home. what's 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're talking about dozens of portraits. robbie: yeah, but it could have been a different subject. it could be a topic on your or -- you or your watch or something else, but to be a subject, actually, of an artist is the most creative part about it 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, and 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 actually portray you. yes, that was interesting to me, because i had to pick one subject, right? so it had to be something i was most knowledgeable about. basically if you don't know yourself, that's 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'd love to inspire people. really, the concept of entrepreneurship, you know, i'd 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, try to do it for the rest of the world. i think if that inspires people, that's personally fulfilling for me. right? that's the sharing part. haslinda: robbie antonio, thank you for being on "high flyers." it's been a pleasure. robbie: thank you very much. haslinda: thank you. ♪ [ phone rings ] what?!
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