Are Tiny Homes the Answer?
Trend Expected to Accelerate Given California Real Estate Soaring Costs
With Google engineers living in trucks, tech workers co-habitating in living room pods and other horrific stories driven by real estate shortages and exploding costs of housing in the Bay Area, one unlikely entrepreneur thinks he has the answer.
Rip Fasool: Entrepreneur and Founder of RealPequeno.com – “Homes for tiny people everywhere.”
“I recognized there was a major disconnect between home values and wages in the San Francisco area,” said Rip Fasool, Founder and CEO of RealPequeno.com, “so I thought why not make the American dream affordable, and leverage the tiny home concept to cost-effectively give folks a place they can actually call home?”.
Using the latest technology, RealPequeno.com manufactures homes on large scale 3D printers in their Palo Alto facilities. To date the startup has raised over 35 million dollars.
We sat down with Fasool at his Sunnyvale home to discuss his latest venture.
“We have 3 models currently,” Fasool says, “and they start at less than $100,000 dollars for a fully equipped unit.”
Fasool is a serial entrepreneur born in the Middle East, and son of immigrant parents who arrived in Cleveland, OH in the late 70’s.
“My parents really instilled in me a love of home. I remember my father working two jobs just so he could pay the mortgage, and we’d often talk about the American Dream of home ownership. My first startup in 1998, Burrow, was revolutionary in reinventing the home thermostat, enabling people to control their house or apartment’s temperature from a touch tone phone. It was ahead of its time,” reminisces Fasool, “but we sold 5 units to the Cleveland council, and I heard it was very popular.”
Fasool moved to Silicon Valley in the late 2000’s, a wide-eyed Midwesterner with big ideas and bigger dreams. “My first Taste of Tech Conference in Palo Alto, I pitched HomeFit to Steve Jobs as an app that would calculate whether all your furniture would fit in your house, in a moving van, or in a storage unit. Steve Jobs basically said ‘wow’,” Fasool recounts, “then I never heard back from him, and the next thing I knew, Apple released HomeKit. Coincidence? I think not!” Fasool said somewhat bitterly.
“I learned from that,” Fassol says, “the cutthroat nature of The Valley hardened my outlook, and I went looking for the next big thing, and funding for the next big thing.”
20 years later Fasool believes he has found the next big thing, and it’s tiny.
“Have you ever tried to buy a home in Silicon Valley?” Fasool asks me and I can see he’s moving into his elevator pitch mode. He continued, “there’s a critical shortage of quality engineers, and part of that is that the excessive salaries haven’t kept up with the exorbitant house prices. The opportunity for a first-year engineer to own their own home isn’t there, until now.”
Fasool paused, and it’s obvious he learned a lot more from Steve Jobs than just indifference, as I anticipated ‘one more thing’ with excitement. Fasool reached into his desk.
“It’s affordable, accessible, and available now!” Said Fassol holding his newest product in front of him, “the future of home ownership is in everyone’s hands.” He said excitedly.
I was suitably impressed, but obviously pushed for answers. Fasool was prepared.
“The basic model includes custom exteriors, foundations, and working lights, and starts at $94,000. It’s really amazing how much we’ve managed to squeeze into this tiny package. Then we’ve also negotiated with a number of developers to assign plots of land that will allow ample clearance between homes and a place to pitch one of our other products, the ‘Tiny Tent’, if needed. It’s not just revolutionary,” continued Fasool, “It’s evolutionary too! And, our first model is available today!” He ended with a flourish, pointing at the 4″ high sample on his desk.
Fasool with his premiere model – retailing for $125,000 – “It’s everyone’s dream of home ownership!”
With tiny homes a trending topic on Pinterest and Instagram, will RealPequeno.com have a chance to succeed with consumers? “I can’t think or anyone who doesn’t dream of home ownership.” says Fasool, “tiny homes aren’t for everyone, of course, but it’s a market I see growing to billions of dollars in California alone. At least that’s what I told my investors.”
As I walked out of our interview Fasool was actually juggling three of his products while balancing on one foot. We’ll be watching RealPequeno.com closely to see if their motto of “homes for tiny people everywhere” comes to fruition.
Looking for a home that’s a little bit bigger? Try Homes.com today.