The beta Broadcast: An interview with Modulous
Founded in 2018, Modulous has quickly scaled to become one of the leading players in the net-zero modular homes space. Their innovative software solution pairs with a proprietary Kit of Parts to create the first globally scalable model for the design and delivery of sustainable, affordable homes. Following a successful Series A, which saw the company raise £10M in funding last month, we sat down with Founder & CEO, Chris Bone, to find out what’s next for this exciting start-up.
Image: Chris Bone, Founder & CEO, Modulous
Firstly, congratulations on a fantastic Series A round! Now you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, what’s next?
Thank you! We’re really excited for the coming months as an organisation and we have ambitious plans for the coming years. We’re now driving towards revenue and what I like to call ‘financial freedom’, to ensure that we don’t need to raise again if we don’t want to. This puts us in a really strong position for expansion going forward. Our digital tool has now been launched internally and we’re fine-tuning it for external release next month. On the projects front, Regal London was a big investor in this funding round and we are looking at schemes in the capital with them, and we’re agreeing terms with Bristol City Council for a social housing scheme. We are actively negotiating the licensing of our physical Kit of Parts to other modular suppliers in the UK, with similar negotiations in play with customers in both the US and Canada.
Image: Modulous software platform visualisation
What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now and how will Modulous tackle them in the coming months/years?
The topical challenge right now is materials inflation. We’re not sure where that will stop but we’re working hard to develop a more efficient, cost-effective approach for the construction industry. Our digital solution coupled with our Kit of Parts is central to that. The other key challenge is traction of the modular industry as a whole. Something isn’t working right now, especially within the UK. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) aren’t taking off and it all comes down to a lack of finance in the space, in my opinion. The current approach requires Modular developers to maintain physical warehouses, purchase materials, and store those materials: companies are having to front these ongoing costs and it just isn’t a sustainable model. It might be viable for one or two projects, but offsite developers are fronting 60-70% of all project costs right now – it’s unscalable. What we’re trying to do is scale the delivery of homes without the upfront of capital.
What separates Modulous from other competitors in the industry?
Firstly, we don’t have a factory and we don’t want a factory. We’re focused on creating a digitised, scalable solution that delivers detailed cost information and optimised designs at the concept stage, with a greater focus on efficiency and sustainability. We’re developing a global process that can be utilised by landowners, developers, designers, suppliers, contractors - and anyone else involved in the construction process.
Our fully engineered Kit of Parts is what really separates us from our competitors. Digital designs are based on this Kit of Parts, which ensures that price and procurement information is available upfront during the design phase. The Kit is procured from and manufactured by established supply chain partners, feeding value back up the chain. It is then delivered to local facilities for volumetric assembly, enabling us to support local workforces.
Because we’ve come to this from engineering and architectural backgrounds, we understand the importance of the design stage. From this, we’ve been able to build software tools to enable designers to exploit the benefits of standardisation without compromising design intent. We’re able to cost projects, iterate designs and generate visualisations so that even at concept stage, our designs are almost 70% ready for build, such is the level of technical detail. Efficiencies – in terms of time and cost savings, and reduction in waste and emissions – are enormous. It’s unique as we can go to modular developers and help them digitalise themselves. We can license lots of different digital tools to lots of different users throughout the construction process. We’re helping others to solve the housing crisis, whilst protecting the planet in the long run.
What do the next 1-3 years look like for the company?
At the moment we’re focused primarily on the UK, US and Canada. We’re already well-established here so priority moving forward will be expanding further within this space and then moving into the central European markets too.
Patrizia-backed Sustainable Future Ventures is another core investor in Modulous, so we now have 3 major real estate investors supporting us. This puts us in an outstanding position to expand across various markets and countries, so we’re excited for the coming months and years. Focus is now on enabling others to innovate with our technologies. We plan to do this by finding the right partners, delivering our solution into new markets, and developing new tech to suit. We’re building a model that is truly scalable and can be implemented across the globe.
What advice do you have for companies preparing for a funding round?
Start early, be focused, and pace yourself. I often hear from founders planning to have products launched or funding rounds closed in a matter of months. It never works out like that! Take your time to get it right first time around. It’s a marathon not a sprint.