07 Sep Boxabl: An Affordable Mobile Housing Solution You Need With Paolo Tiramani
What if you can have an affordable house you can bring with you wherever you want? Introducing Paolo Tiramani, the Founder of Boxabl. Paolo Tiramani is an American industrial designer and engineer. His work is diverse – he holds 155 patent filings, covering a diverse mix of inventions and intellectual property, including hardware, housewares, sporting goods, medical, personal care, construction and automotive. In this interview Paolo discusses with Matthew Sullivan Boxabl’s main innovation – a patented building construction technology for mass housing production to make houses more affordable. If you’re excited by innovation, whether as a homeowner or fellow inventor, don’t miss out on this episode. Tune in!
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BOXABL: AN AFFORDABLE MOBILE HOUSING SOLUTION YOU NEED WITH PAOLO TIRAMANI
Paolo Tiramani is an American industrial designer and engineer. His work is diverse – he holds 155 patent filings, covering a diverse mix of inventions and intellectual property, including hardware, housewares, sporting goods, medical, personal care, construction and automotive.
I love to welcome Paolo Tiramani to the show. He’s the Founder of Boxabl. Much to my horror, Paolo’s not from around here. My English accent is going to have no effects on you whatsoever. It’s like the magic doesn’t work. Paolo, welcome to the show.
It’s very nice to meet you. I may be slightly invulnerable to your accent.
Normally, people don’t listen to what you’re saying, thank God. For those of you reading, behind Paolo is an enormous factory that goes on so far. It has this vanishing point right where Paolo’s right index finger is. This goes on like one of those mirrors that look into mirrors that look into mirrors. Your factory is not measured in square feet. Is it square miles?
It’s 1/8 of a mile long. It’s 4 acres under our roof at 172,000 square feet. To give you an idea of the scale, we now have a factory that we’re starting to plan in the 4 million square feet range, which is leagues larger than this 172,000 square foot factory. The factory is still as large as it is. We consider it a prototype factory, although it can make thousands of products a year. We will be rolling into 100% full automation. That’s the way to get the price down. We’re learning our craft here behind me with this big giant baby.
All babies are born and conceived. Babies are not born the size of this factory. Where was the conception? Where was the idea? How did it grow? To give my audience some background, Elon Musk has adopted Boxabl. It is a significant sea change in the way that properties are constructed. The word disruption doesn’t do justice to what you’re doing. It’s an enormous change to construction techniques, costing and everything. Where did this begin?
I’ll give you the abbreviated version. I owned and ran a company that was intellectual property licensing. It’s a fancy way of saying that we invented stuff and licensed it to the industry in the same way that perhaps a book author or organization would get a royalty every time that product is used. We would do that with products. We did it in a number of industries and it was a great business. It taught us how to invent, engineer and industrial design. I’m a designer by training.
A few years ago, I felt that I wanted us to become operators in a space rather than licensors to others. If a bookkeeper can count, it doesn’t matter what they count, then engineers and inventors should be able to find a space. We approached the problem rather clinically and said, “We’re not the me-too guys. We’re going to invent and let’s do some good while we’re at it. If we’re going to find a problem and be great in this space, let’s find the biggest problem we can.”
That took a little while to do in and into itself. We came up with the fact that building construction was in a pre-industrial condition. This is top-level stuff in terms of manufacturability. Everything that we make in our modern world is made in a factory. We will become very used to all the benefits that are produced in terms of quality, low price, immediate and instant gratification. Except with the manufacturing of homes, which has been done out in an open field. If you order a car, you wouldn’t expect a bunch of guys to show up and say, “Where’s the shed and we’ll start putting this together,” but that’s what we expect. The reason for that is because buildings are big.
That was the absolute genesis. It was rather clinical. It took a few years with the previous company for us to define what the problems are. That’s the first thing you have to do when you start any new product. You have to identify the problems and not try and fix problems that aren’t problems. It is such a Byzantine rule book. We have 50 states, etc. That took a few years. When we felt that we had a handle on that, we were in New York at the time. We packed ourselves up to move West to set up the Boxabl company and the Boxabl plant.
There have been a number of attempts at this type of manufacturing. If you look at containers, for example. If you look in some of the Baltic states, there have been developments that have used other materials. There have been a number of different companies that have tried to create prefabricated buildings. There’s something fundamentally different that you’re doing. I don’t think it’s down to timing or regulation or anything like that. There is something that defines what you’re doing compared to these other companies that haven’t been successful.
I can run through the current landscape fast, top-down. The best quality we have is the modular companies. That’s the highest standard in terms of certifications. Without exception, they are all stick buildings under a roof. By sticks, I mean 2 X 4 panel sizes that you can put in the back of a pickup truck. They brought all of those legacy problems in the field into their factory, so they’re not making good use of that factory or idealizing their factory in terms of production and speed.
The other thing is they’re shipping wide loads. We’re allowed to share 8.5-foot wide around the world. These guys are shipping 14-foot wide. They’re limited to a couple of hundred miles radius from their factory. That’s another big strike against that. The third and probably biggest thing in my book is that the owner of that home or that building has to live with these narrow 14-foot rooms as a legacy to have a one-time transport. They have to live with that for decades. It’s not a width that works, so that’s the modular space. Going down from that, we have the hard manufactured housing. They’re built to a lower code. That’s not acceptable to us. We’re looking to the federal level to implement a higher code than the modular code, not the lower level like the hub code. We get down to the niche products.
Containers are interesting. They look great in pictures but they’re 8-foot wide. If I outstretch my arms, it’s 6-foot wide and the ceilings are 8-foot tall. You can’t live like that. By the time you ship it on the inside, on the outside, and you’ve got rid of the thermal bridging, you’ve got nothing left. You may as well take away the idea you originally thought off. You might as well ship the inside and the outside, and throw the container away. The tiny homes, people love us. We’re building technology with our first configuration which is a studio home, but we’re not a tiny home company per se. The tiny people do love us. As a product, the tiny homes are just a reaction to folks and their freedoms to have mobility, but it’s mostly price. It’s a bit of a road to a fast divorce if you’re living with a partner in such a small space. The Boxabl product is a construction technology, and the first configuration is a studio home.
The first thing you have to do when you start any new product is to identify the problems and not try to fix problems that aren’t problems.
That’s the most important thing to get across. All of the people that have come before you have tried to produce a range of properties like, “You’ve got A, B, C, or D. Which one do you want?” What you’re creating is a technology that can presumably be applied to any design configuration. Tell us more about the technology. You talked about full automation. What does Boxabl build?
It’s a big country and a big world. There are a lot of different flavors to architectural styles. The approach that others have taken is a fixed configuration like, “Come and live in my contemporary. Come and live in my A-frame. Come and live in my colonial.” We don’t say that. We say, “We’re going to give you a beautiful building that’s architecturally neutral, and then you can dress that building on the exterior however you want.” Unless you’re living in an igloo, we’re all living in boxes and rectangular rooms irrespective of architectural style. The Boxabl technology does all of the heavy liftings.
The best way to think of Boxabl is Legos. We played with those as children. With the Casita which everybody is excited about, you can imagine a little square Lego. There’s the rectangular one. We’ll be building that which is double the size. There’s the one in the middle that nobody uses. We’ll be making all three sizes of those. Our technology makes rooms. The rooms can be subdivided as we have with the Casita. They can be stacked, connected and cantilevered to create expensive porches and decks. They can be configured to have any architectural style.
They can be used exclusively as part of another system if you want large atrium space. You can surround the atrium space with Boxabl. It’s a very flexible system and it’s approached at the genetic level to fix the building construction problem. You cannot fix that with one style of home or office building. We’ve created building shells that connects to build pretty much anything.
There’s no maximum size constraint. Using your Lego example, you’re shipping these units that are transportable across the US because of the size. Presumably, when you get to the construction site, you need a team of people to assemble them. The assembly process is far quicker than a traditional building, even if that building’s using prefabricated panels.
We talk about size. It may get a little bit abstract when you talk about numbers with your audience, but the largest building shell that we will make will have a 40-foot clear span, 20-foot on the narrow side, and a 9.5-foot ceiling. That’s a huge room and can be assembled with others to create pretty much anything. There’s no space constraint. They’re very generous. The windows and doors can be cut out anywhere with no header. For your audience, when you cut a hole in a stick frame building, it doesn’t have a lot of strength anyway. If you put a big giant piece of wood or steel above it, our panels are strong, you just cut windows and doors in. You don’t have to worry about that. You’ve got total freedom.
The whole building system is set up on a grid so that when you line up windows and doors on the grid, everything lines up. The walls are smart. They have something called chassis. Chassis are holes that run through all the walls, ceilings and floors at predetermined intervals. When you stack Boxabl, the chassis for the wiring all connect. When you go side by side, those chassis connect. Even if you offset them, they still connect. It’s very interesting. When they get out to the field, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. You’ve just got to put these things together. In the future, they may come as empty building shelves. They may come fully configured with staircases, closets, bathrooms, bedrooms and the widgets, starting out with this adorable little guy. This studio is a 400 square feet home, which seems to have caught the public’s attention, called the Casita.
In terms of all the problems we’ve approached of the marketplace and the construction building industry, any project we undertake, we look at it as a problem pie and we slice up the pie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big problem or a little problem. We’re going to weigh it and attack the big problems for us. Sometimes you’ve got to put a big problem on board, fix a little problem, then that throws light on the big problem. It’s a big problem pie. We slice it up and then we put people into teams to address those problems. There’s no problem too large or too small.
You mentioned when the product arrives and how it is set up. There are a lot of secondary costs to construction and to deliver the product. I’ll give you a couple of examples. When our product is delivered, it does not require any coordination with the homeowner or the builder. It does not require a crane on site. A crane is expensive. The guys have to have special certifications. Our driver will just point and he’ll drop it off. He doesn’t even need level ground. When the Boxabl needs to be moved, he can move it with a telehandler, which is an oversized forklift. With the unpacking of the Boxabl, it’s broken record, no crane. We will have it available to buy or rent some bracketry with some hoists and electric controllers. The brief was two guys, some bracketry, electric winches, a car battery or 110-outlet, and unpack the building and button it up in about an hour or two.
One question that brings to mind is how does this compare to other buildings in terms of how long it lasts in the different weather conditions that you have across the US?
A good way to look at it is we’ve built construction. They are putting together wood frames. Typically, they’re going up ladders and banging nails in the heat and the cold. The frame gets rained on. It’s like we’re in the desert. It’s boiling hot. The guys can’t work. New Hampshire is going to be terribly cold and get rained and snowed on, and they walk. They are put together with little bits and pieces, drywall, plywood, etc. We don’t do that. We don’t have the constraints of the limits of human strengths. We have a big factory just like every other industry has a big factory. We have giant machines, and we can make panels in a 40-foot lens in one big solid piece. We don’t use stick framing. It’s completely antiquated. We use a process more similar to how airplanes are constructed.
I see the large sign that says, “Lamination.” It’s that honeycomb effect.
Laminate is a magical thing. I can describe it quickly. They are like a layered cake where you put down layers of materials. In our instances, we’ve put down a layer of concrete board, steel and insulation materials. We might additionally put some hinges, magnesium oxide board and other elements in. Every layer that goes down, we stroke glue across. We put another layer and it’s our own cocktail. It’s taken a long time to make it simple and we arrive at this 6-inch wall panel.
The beauty of laminates, if I can describe it simply, is that when you put two materials together and you put glue in between, then you put a point load to bend it and to make it strong when the people are standing on it like in bathtubs or whatever for the water. What’s happened is when you put a point load in, all that glue tries to push those two laminates sideways and there are layers of glue. It is quite magical. All that surface area of glue is not going to allow those two materials to slip past each other. We have a laminate panel. It is immensely strong.
To make the point, traditional homes need a strong foundation or a strong basement so that you can put all these wobbly sticks up. It’s the foundation holding up the house. We have to have a foundation because the local municipality says we do, but that’s almost an antiquated regulation. We don’t need a foundation. You can hold this up in the four corners. It’s that strong. In terms of overall strength, hurricane ratings and things like that, we’re going through now with an NCA certifying body. We will have significantly higher strengths in every metric, but it’s also in terms of moisture. Bugs can’t eat it. All the slices of that pie to make a superior panel.
Are you telling me that termites do not dine out on magnesium oxide paneling?
They do then they turn into mutated termites.
You could be responsible for these giant termites. One thing that I noticed, coming from the UK to the US, is you’d knock on a building wall, particularly in California. These are multimillion-dollar homes. You could feel the house wobble slightly. It felt very peculiar that in all of the homes, the walls were 6 or 7 inches thick at the most, and you close the door upstairs and the window would rattle downstairs. What you’ve got is something that is a construction technique, which was derived primarily out of cost, I would have thought. There are some nods towards earthquake and hurricane resilience. Essentially, the buildings are fragile to start with.
It’s a giant pile of food for termites sitting on a concrete block. The construction materials that you’ve got is the difference between Amelia Earhart’s plane and the latest 727. My question is when you come across these antiquated processes, you’ve got antiquated regulations sitting around that. Is that the biggest challenge, trying to convince all of the people that have a vested interest in the current code to allow you entry into what is probably a very protected marketplace in 50 different states?
It’s a barrier to entry. It is a hurdle. It is a classic sign of an underdeveloped marketplace. It’s a classic sign of an underdeveloped market base. You have these Byzantium rules state by state. We don’t have that with cars. You don’t have that with shirts. You don’t have it with anything else. We see it as an opportunity rather than a problem. It causes us friction now because we have to get a certification state by state. In the long run, I’m happy about it. I wouldn’t say that that’s the biggest challenge.
I have the same experience you did coming from the UK originally. I’m a flag-waving American now. Back then, there’s a giant 80-foot American flag. In the UK, they would have little bricks and they’d put up road bricks. They’d have an air gap and they’d have another road bricks. I came to America a long time ago and I had the same experience as you. I knock on the wall and I’m like, “That feels a bit flimsy.” For the reasons we know, with the Casita, our product, and the building shelves that we have with these laminates, these things are rock solid. They’re built with steel, concrete and insulation.
The other thing we have in terms of doors shutting, and you hear it three rooms over. Our building shows, when you put them together, they have two walls. It’s a wonderful thing. If you’re building a mid-rise apartment and you stack five high, three high currently, your ceiling is not the floor of the toddler rolling around on his tricycle upstairs. He’s got his own floor separate on that gap so you don’t hear it. Even in homes, if your neighbor is having a rave next door or doing whatever, you’re not going to hear them because there are two walls with an airspace between you and the neighboring apartment.
That goes on and on with single-family homes. If you’ve got rowdy teenagers having a good time and the parents want to watch a quiet movie, it’s not a problem. It’s a tremendous amount of insulation and rigidity. That’s born out of the fact of the way we build the product, but also the product has to be not only transportable. We’ve engineered our product to be transportable and re-transportable. We’ve engineered our building shells to pack and unpack. When they unpack, they are indistinguishable from a regular home. I would say they’re higher quality, but there are no visual clues that you have when you unpack the home. It’s just a big and beautiful white interior, so you can pack them up.
It changes the mindset about the investment homeowners are going to make in their homes. If they realize that they can take it with them if they didn’t like their neighbor, if they don’t like they’re changing state or local tax codes, or they get a job that’s better for them in another part of the country, they can take it with them.
You can see the knock-on effect of this. When you start changing things fundamentally, then the knock-on effect is that there are changes probably that you didn’t forecast or foresee. Those changes could affect the way that land is priced. If homes become portable effectively, then there are things I can’t even imagine. It’s funny how when you start making fundamental changes to the status quo, then everything else begins to change. Have you seen any knock-on effects that you weren’t anticipating?
It’s something we’re very cognizant of about the knock-on effects. Those that you can imagine and those that you cannot imagine. When you’re engineering and designing, you have to leave margin for the unimaginable. I’ll give you some examples. When Facebook or Google started, they didn’t think they’d be where they are now. Here we are with Facebook and Google. With us, it’s the same thing. We imagine. We are futurists, that’s a crazy world with inventors, but we are both of these things. The way we do it is we resort to fundamental principles.
The first principle is something that can’t be devolved anymore. You study whatever that artifact is. It can be a wall panel or a nail, and it cannot be devolved anymore. We do that to all aspects of the business and all aspects of that problem. If we use those first principles as a tow line as we go through fixing these things, then you can get through a hyper-focused on smaller elements and fix this problem, and unwillingly create another problem for yourself down the road. It is a balancing act to a jigsaw puzzle. If you stick with those first principles, we find that it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
When you’re engineering and designing, you have to leave margin for the unimaginable.
With Boxabl, you make a good point. It’s like, “How does this change things?” It’s like, “We have reached goals.” We say, “We want to see these things on Amazon Prime. We want to be able to pack the movement around. What are the knock-on effects of that? What does it do to land prices? What does it to the evil government to tax? How does it make folks feel about their own homes?” We scoped out probably 60% of that or less. It’ll be very interesting to see what owners come back to us and how it develops. These things can typically take on a life of their own. We’re keen through this development cycle and go from 0 to 1, from prototype to production, which is extraordinarily difficult.
It’s the combination of inertia and momentum. You’re trying to create enough momentum to overcome the inertia. In terms of markets, are there particular legislative changes? I’m thinking about the ADU regulations in California. Is this a question of timing that benefits you as well? Has there been something that has made this possible that perhaps a few years ago, it wouldn’t have got the same immediate traction?
We started with the building technology and we showed it at the IBS, International Builders Show, here in Las Vegas in 2019 or something like that. We showed a two-bedroom home, 1,600 square feet. It’s super cute. Everybody was wild and we all felt great. At the end of it, it’s like, “What do we do now?” People are saying, “What did we buy?” Were not very smart with them. We’re not sure what to do now. After that show, we said, “The show technology is far too abstract to start. We’d have to go from 0 to 1,000 miles an hour. We need to configure the technology into something that’s popular and usable.”
We came up with the ADU, the Accessory Dwelling Unit. For your audience, it’s a very popular backyard, the granny flats. We fit perfectly for that because if you have a driveway and your product packs down to 8.5-foot wide to ship anywhere around the world. You can get it down someone’s driveway. My partner and I said, “Let’s make a few of this. Let’s set up shop and make a couple of hundred and see how it goes.” We put it out there and then everything exploded. Everybody could find a used case for themselves beyond the ADU. We haven’t set up this first factory. We call it Factory One behind me in the hope that folks come and buy them. We’re not with the folks here. The folks here are giving us an insane amount of orders, over 100,000.
Somewhere in June, it was less than half that. That’s a problem in itself. I know that there are many people who start businesses on the “If you build it, they will come” basis. That normally is a recipe for failure. You have another problem which is managing growth. There are all of the issues in terms of trying to manage not only the production side of growth but also the people, the regulations, trying to ship to multiple states. I’m trying to avoid the trite questions. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is in that same position where what they’ve done is suddenly of immense interest to the consumer, but there’s also snow under? What approach would you recommend to people to deal with that?
I may have limited knowledge of that. What you said is so true, “Build it and they will come” is complete crap. They will not come. You have to market it and you have to display the product. Let me answer your question about advice. Typically, my career has been to invent and our company would invent unlicensed to folks that already have products and things like that. In terms of a high-growth idea, what we’ve done is the first thing you need is money. We tried the venture capitalist. We put in a few million dollars internally, but not too many venture capitalists. What typically happens between founders and venture capitalists is they may not agree on the valuation.
We turned to the crowdfunding markets. It’s my partner’s idea. I said, “You think so?” We fund then we went out with StartEngine. We blew their records up. We ranked number one. I’m not sure both in terms of raise, speed and things like that. We’ve had no trouble raising cash but it’s been a unique situation. The cash raised is probably the single biggest component. For us, cash and investment is not a problem. We’re very fortunate in that. Our problem, once we get this prototype lineup, is it’s going to be scaled. We’re going to be hit upside the head so badly in about six months. These guys should be going out the door every 90 minutes which sounds wonderful, but it’s not nearly fast enough. We’re making plans now to scale rapidly in terms of the size of the buildings and on what we plan to do with automation.
Automation is the key. That’s going to be the seismic shift. At the moment, you can have a quasi-manual process that scale where you’ve got lots of people moving stuff around but in a very big factory. This is where I’m thinking about the leaps forward that companies like Tesla have made where processes that were previously manual become automated. At that point, you truly get scaled. I’m talking with very little experience here, but the ability to automate processes gives you the ability to predict what your manufacturing output can be. You become this behemoth that no one can compete with. Is that the objective?
You put your finger on it. First of all, you have to design for production and that’s a skill in and into itself. That meant that we had to throw out all the manual labor processes that we see in a pre-industrial construction technology business now. The first stock that we did was, first of all, we’re familiar with designing for production and high-volume production in a number of different industries. The first folks we got in is Porsche, consulting the car folks. We figured the production line exemplified by the auto manufacturers which are very complicated. These robots and it’s impressive what they do. They’ve come in for a couple of sessions with us. It costs a fortune. They were terrific. They helped us put together a production line.
You know that Porsche put their engines in the back. You’re not worried that you might end up with windows where doors are supposed to be or something.
We were doing a trailer system. We maybe have to come back to them and maybe put a nice mid-engine and trailer sensor. In terms of production, we have high goals in robotics and speed. We plan on being in the Bahamas. The production line is in two sections. We make the building shelves, and then the building shelves have to be configured with those interiors. We said, “On the building shelve side,” which is much simpler than a car, “Our goal to you is we want to have raw materials in one end. We want to have finished building shelves out the other end, and we want you to turn the lights off now.” That may sound a little dangerous. We’re not going to turn the lights off but that’s the goal.
That’s brief that they have been set. They’re working with our engineers, so let’s see a production line that turns the lights off because now I know it’s an automatic production line. I believe that there is an inflection point where we get so efficient. The cost is going to go to a point that is so shockingly low, people are going to be stunned.
That was going to be my next question. The natural question is, how does the cost of your building if you have a piece of land and you have two comparable buildings in terms of square footage and all the other ratings that you would use to compare those two houses? Is your home 10% less expensive, 20% more expensive? How would you compare that in round figures?
It’s a component. The home itself, we take care of everything from the outside of the walls in. There are lots of other things. You have local land prices. You’ll still put it in a driveway. We’ve been to each trench for utilities, city septic, sewer and things like that. It is a component cost. I wouldn’t want to mislead folks but those building shelves are doing all the heavy lifting. What we’re doing after we get this first production lineup is we’ll be looking at massive efficiencies. I look at that production line behind me as a product in and into itself. It’s a manufacturing cell. We’re going to make that as efficient as possible. We’re going to look to print them off. We look to replicate those within our national borders and around the world and have a high-quality standard at a very low cost. I’m not sure exactly where that will land.
It’s not only about the cost because we are involved through my partners in a small residential construction project. The problem there is not just the cost of the materials. It’s getting the materials and getting someone to turn up and put them up reliably. There are all sorts of moving parts associated with the construction of a standard home that makes it difficult to predict the outcome. You’re taking away most if not all of those unpredictable elements, and you’re creating predictability. When you have predictability, then you can forecast and deliver. What you’re doing could end up being one significant way that housing shortages are solved. A housing shortage depends on builders and construction companies. There are all of those. It’s not just about costs. I don’t want to mislead people. This is not a direct comparison.
The labor cost and there’s a whole bunch of different components. Everything eventually goes through a funnel or an exit of costs. It’s not an unreasonable question, but the labor point you make is a good one. Everybody has a labor problem. What I mean by everybody is it doesn’t matter if you’re D.R. Horton and putting up a community of hundreds of homes or you’re a onesie homeowner. The D.R. Horton guys have a problem getting lots of plumbers and electricians out to a temporary factory, which is an open-air field. Maybe they’ll show up. Maybe they won’t show up. Maybe they were in a bar the night before. There’s no liability afterwards. They’re just dispersed to the core of the Earth in terms of warranties and such.
The single homeowner isn’t going to get those laborers either because they’re going to be working for the D.R. Hortons of the world. Everybody has a problem. What are the time consequences and the money consequences of that? What are the money consequences of having a nine-month build, which is your average buildand with all of those problems? You have to dribble money out. Maybe you have to hire and fire.
The knock-on effects are if the building becomes predictable, then the funding options change. The funding costs potentially could come down because people know that these buildings can be built, delivered and sold within a much smaller window.
The cost of money is huge depending on the product. Most of the money is up to you. If you knew that Boxabl was out there and you could get building shelves on Amazon or directly from us, and you can order a couple of hundred at a time, and you know that it can come within a week or so because they’re in inventory, you pop that problem aside. You take care of your infrastructure, do your gardening, put your driveway in, put the streetlamps in. You order them. They come late. You save the cost of the money or your back-office costs or your architectural costs.
One of the great things, talking about knock-on costs is let’s take the Casita, for example. When folks put their Casita in, they need a basement. We will have those basement plans online. Instead of spending $1,000 or $2,000 with a local engineer, you download it from us. It doesn’t matter if they want a full basement, slab, pillars. They’ll download it from us. It’s already done. If we do something once and tens of thousands of customers can utilize that, that sounds like a good deal to me. Little Casitas are architecturally neutral. They’re very plain on purpose, big country, lots of different flavors. We will have downloads of exterior finishes for the Casita if you want to put it into a contemporary, cookie-cutter, traditional gingerbread house.
It’s exciting that you can build these things in your backyard to your own fantasy design. Give your kids the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that they’ve always asked.
We have a lot of fun here. There’s a little light-hearted stuff that goes on around here. If you’d watch the videos with the company, you’ll see that we will also have a castle. A 400-square-foot Boxabl castle that you’ll be able to download and set it up with regular materials. What we also wanted to have in terms of those knock-on effects that you’ve put your finger on is Boxabl U, Boxabl University. We will have a nationwide group of installers. There’ll be independent contractors that have to get certified with Boxabl.
The different levels of certification will have an online school, but we want them to come to the school in Las Vegas to get certified for a few days. It’s a beautiful thing because now you’ve got three parties. You’ve got us, the certified Boxabl installer, and the homeowner. The homeowner has a tremendous sense of satisfaction because they know that the installer can’t screw up because there’s a higher authority. The installer knows that he can’t screw up because he wants more business from Boxabl.
Which is completely the opposite of the traditional self-employed contractors who come and go as they please.
We will focus on what we have to focus on, which is the absolute mass production of custom structures when they get in the field and changing that marketplace. We must stay focused on that. We’re not going to go out ourselves as Boxabl staff and put out the customer Boxabl Casita, but that doesn’t mean that our responsibility ends when the driver drops it off. We can provide many support services and so much structure around our customers. It doesn’t matter if they are Pulte or if they are Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Idaho. We provide the same level of support because they both need the same things. They can save on architects and engineers.
They can get a fixed price from the contractor, from the Boxabl installer. The Boxabl installers are going to be happy as a clam. He’s going to get fed customers and get repeat customers. The same customer when they want to maybe grow their home, they can grow with Boxabl. There are a lot of ancillary services that that installer is going to do. Some of the things we mentioned are landscaping, driveways and permitting.
The permit is interesting. We have a relationship with Permits.com. You can go to our landing page at Permits.com if you’re thinking about putting up a Casita or in the future or one of our products. You type in the zip code, your address, and your hand through the permit process. It’s part of that problem pie. Sometimes we’re providing a solution that’s a third-party solution, but it’s a managed third-party solution by us. We are the responsible party, even if we’re not directly delivering that service. We’re not too interested in making a profit in those ancillaries. In fact, I don’t think I want us to.
That’s because it provides you with the ability to sell some of your products. You mentioned your first launch was years ago in Las Vegas. All of these are in the last couple of years or so. There’s an enormous amount of work, years of work beforehand, but the launch and the growth happened very recently.
When you do something once, and tens of thousands of customers can utilize it, it’s a good deal.
We knew the problems years before or they stayed for years, then we pull the trigger and say, “Let’s go.” We hit the ground in 2017. My business partner came down from California and moved his family down. We put ourselves in a rented office. We knew what we were going to do. In a few short years, we’ve done everything from that point to fully engineer the product, kept and raised lots of partners in terms of interested parties that we’ll be working together with extraordinarily large companies.
We’re setting up this little baby behind us. We have taken 6 or 7 months from the time we walked onto the lot at breathtaking speed. Companies shift focus over time and we’ve gone through the R&D phase. We’re now going to the production phase. I would like the company to have a controlled explosion. Some days it’s a little bit less controlled than other days, but it is a controlled explosion. You’ll see us growing in the next year or two to perhaps 4 million-plus square feet. We’re in the planning of that now, building-wise.
Do you get your own ZIP code?
That’s only about 200 acres, but they do have some laws here in Nevada that you do get to run almost like your own township.
As they say, “Welcome to Tiramani, Bill.”
It will be a very libertarian freedom-loving land.
You’re not going to turn it into your own sovereign state at some point. Maybe in the future. On that note, I’m going to shift gears. I’m not sure if you knew about this but we have the famous Hooked on Startups Quickfire Questionnaire.
I was not aware.
I have ten questions and you can answer them in any which way you wish. Paolo Tiramani, are you ready? Question number one, what is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
I’d have to go with no.
Question number three, what are you most excited about now?
Possible growth and doing some good. We’re not set up as a charity but the goal of the company is to do good works. It’s to fix a huge problem. I would say growth.
Question number four, what turns you off now?
Government. I don’t care whose government. The government keeps stacking up pallets. It’s a bit of a side road. The Boxabl conversation doesn’t affect Boxabl, but government suffocates people. We should focus on individual liberty, especially now. That’s not coming from the left or right. I hate them all.
Universal hatred. Question number five, what sound or noise do you love?
Probably an alien sound on my phone when it rings.
What sound or noise do you hate?
When the alarms go off here or possibly babies crying when it’s not your baby.
Question number seven, what is your favorite curse word?
I say this every time. It is the most amazing word. Thank God for fuck. I know it’s all brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.
I got to add one more for you and me. I’m a flag-waving American now. I grew up Italian. I grew up in the UK. I’ll give you a couple. It’s bollocks. I had a license plate on a motorcycle that said, “Bollocks.”
I had a website once. My email address was Matthew@TalkingBolo.cz and the CZ was the Czech Republic but it was underused here.
Question number eight, what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
That’s a hard one. I don’t think I can do anything else. I might be a bit of a one-trick pony. Sports-wise, I love sports. I love sparring and motorcycles. That’s probably very clever to talk about either.
You could be the next Barry Sheene.
Focus on what you have to focus on.
It’s a bit of a short career.
Moving swiftly on question number nine. What profession would you not like to attempt?
My final question, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I would say, “Go back. Your work is not finished. Go build more Boxabl.”
Paolo, it’s been such a pleasure having you on. I’m excited about everything you’re doing. Thank you for giving us an insight into this huge success. I can’t wait and I’m very excited. Things like buying a piece of land, I’m thinking, “How am I going to build a house?” I’ve got a much better idea now. How do other people get in touch with you? What’s the best way for other people to find out more about how they can add themselves to the long and growing list of people that want to take advantage of what you’re building?
It’s Boxabl.com. You can find out much more about the company and lots of YouTube. We have a lot of exciting things, a lot of fun things in the pipeline. You don’t think of a home delighting you, but a home should delight you. The home should grow with you and maybe ungrow with you. You can look forward to seeing a lot of great new technology in the home as well. We can aggregate pretty much everything inside of those four walls because we control the four walls from lighting to your coffeemaker and delightful ease of view. Stay tuned. We have a very long product cycle to get through. We don’t even know what we’re going to come up with, but I can guarantee you it’s going to be affordable, high quality, fun and exciting.
I can’t wait to see it and thanks again. It’s been such a pleasure having you on.
About Paolo Tiramani
Paolo Tiramani is an American industrial designer and engineer. His work is diverse – he holds 155 patent filings, covering a diverse mix of inventions and intellectual property, including hardware, housewares, sporting goods, medical, personal care, construction and automotive.