Ex-Amazon manager’s modular, smart housing startup Blokable is raising cash – GeekWire
Blokable, a Seattle startup focused on manufactured housing, with goals of speeding up production, cutting costs for builders and making a dent in housing affordability, is raising some cash.
According to an SEC filing, Blokable is looking to raise approximately $3 million and so far has brought in about $1.36 million. The document lists Jason Calacanis, an investor and entrepreneur known for the popular publishing site Weblogs that sold to AOL in 2005, as director.
Aaron Holm, Blokable’s CEO, declined to comment.
Holm was an important player in Amazon’s physical retail push. As a product manager, he worked on the company’s bookstores, of which there are now 13 planned or built, and he also helped develop the checkout-less Amazon Go convenience concept.
These were complicated projects to be sure, but the biggest issues weren’t in the technology. The pain points came from dealing with the building process: finding and working with the firms that design and build the stores, permitting projects and doing site work to get ready to build.
Holm also carried with him a long-held fascination with shipping container construction, used in construction of everything from houses to shopping malls. This confluence of events gave Holm the motivation to leave the online retail giant to start his own company, Blokable.
The company’s modular units, called Bloks, aim to cut 30 to 50 percent off build time, and save developers approximately 10 percent on costs. Bloks are available in lengths from 18 feet to 38 feet and customers can add basic and premium kitchens and bathrooms as well as modular deck, stair, railing, and window systems. After being manufactured in Vancouver, Bloks are trucked to the construction site where they are craned onto the foundation, connected utilities, and stacked up to five stories high.
Blokable will build everything from single-family homes, to accessory dwelling units that share property with existing homes, to market-rate apartment buildings, to affordable housing. Blokable is ramping up production right now, and its first few projects are focused on emergency housing for homeless people, as well as a market rate project in Utah.
All Bloks will come equipped with a suite of smart home technology that includes a tablet on the wall with the ability to control temperature, lighting and other aspects of the unit. The technology is integrated with Slack, giving residents the ability to chat with property managers.
Today, Blokable has approximately 15 employees, including architects, builders, mechanical engineers, business intelligence people and more. The company operates out of a small office in Seattle’s University District.