If you have ever purchased a condo, townhouse or house, you may have faced the dilemma of choosing a space knowing that it will work for a few years, but you may have to move to support new additions to your life. I faced that issue myself, so I was excited to talk to Brian Gaudio, CEO and Founder of Module, about how he is taking on the housing market. If Module sounds familiar, it could be because it was recently featured in Forbes Magazine and TechCrunch.
What is your business?
Module is creating the right amount of living space at the right time; it is designed to grow with you. As you experience life changes, your housing needs change; for example, the amount of living space you need when you are single is different than what you need with a partner and children.
How did you come up with your idea?
I have a degree in architecture, and initially started my career at Walt Disney Imagineering, which was a lot of fun. However, I wanted to use my skills to help make a difference, so when Hurricane Katrina hit, I worked in Biloxi to help figure out how to make the community and housing more resilient.
From there, I directed a documentary film on the global housing crisis. I went to five different cities in South America to understand housing and interviewed designers and architects. During the interviews, I came across “incremental housing,” which at the time involved building half of a house and the owners could build on ad-hoc, similar to DIY.
I thought an idea like this could work in the United States and formed Module. The company has changed a lot, but the core is still the same — the options that homebuilders are putting out there are not serving the 21st century home buyers’ needs, and people are looking for new answers.
What is your vision?
My long term vision is to make good home design more affordable and to create better solutions on how we think about housing the United States. I want to design accessible and affordable housing while focusing on sustainability.
Did you picture yourself doing what you are doing now?
I have always loved starting things, you learn so much that way.
Why did you choose Ascender?
Ascender Bootcamp was the first time I pitched Module. I was not accepted, but this is not the end of the story. I become a part of the community of entrepreneurs by working with Stephan as a mentor, advocate, sounding board. He is still the person I call if anything happened or I need advice.
What’s your story after Ascender?
I have a true Pittsburgh entrepreneur story. To build my initial models, Upper St. Clair High School let me use their shop. I was accepted at the Idea Foundry’s Intersector program, which works with very early stage businesses. After that, I applied to Alpha Lab Gear and didn’t get in, but they let me use their space. After a few weeks, I was accepted into their cohort.
My biggest ever live demo was a house that was at NoVA Place and sponsored by Comcast; you can still view it in Uptown.
I started taking customer reservations in fall of 2017 and am building two houses for customers here in Pittsburgh, slated to finish in early 2019.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
- Get your idea out there and listen to the feedback.
- Find the top three people you trust and try to make them your co-founder.
What lessons have you learned?
If you are not screwing up and failing, then you’re not testing the limits. You need to find an upper limit of your capabilities.