San Antonio startup Braustin Mobile Homes, a virtual dealership for manufactured housing, plans to use homegrown technology as it gears up for out-of-state expansion.
With its eye on selling homes in California, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States, Braustin is working with fellow San Antonio startups Merge VR and Ractive to develop virtual reality tours of its homes.
Operating in co-working space Geekdom since January 2017, Braustin will soon move into a home of its own to accommodate the growth: Three manufactured home models at its under-construction headquarters will help the mobile home dealership showcase 30 floor plans through virtual reality technology, co-founder Alberto Piña said.
Piña said Braustin will retain its space in Geekdom, but its six full-time employees will be largely based out of the new space on San Antonio's far South Side when it is completed in about six months.
A virtual reality headset will be able to transform the three double-wide trailers into an array of floor plans, and Piña said the company has plans to set up virtual reality stations at major retailers such as H-E-B.
"We think that's how we can scale this company into the state of California or the Florida market beyond Texas," Piña said. "It's not scalable to put a new dealership in every city we want to have a presence in, but if we can perfect this virtual selling that we have been pioneering, it is scalable in San Antonio, which is known for call centers."
He said the startup also has plans to develop 3D floor-plan renderings that can be projected onto the San Antonio-developed Merge VR Cube.
Braustin Mobile Homes took part in Geekdom's Pre-Accelerator program earlier this year, which Piña likened to getting a master's degree in business administration in six weeks. He said the startup received counseling from the program's mentors, who advised against fundraising anytime soon.
In March, Piña and the Braustin team received a $10,000 check from the Houston Street co-working space through Geekdom's Community Fund but will turn that investor funding down, preferring to continue bootstrapping and tapping outside funding sources only if needed.
For now, the company will continue to rely on customer revenue to fund its operation. A more aggressive expansion could involve investor money in the future, Piña said.
The startup has already begun to dip into other markets, completing its first sale in New Mexico in May, Piña said.
Braustin focuses on selling to individual homebuyers, but the company also receives a significant portion of its business from oil and gas companies in West Texas that purchase the homes to house workers.
More than 70 percent of its sales are to homebuyers the Braustin team never meets in person, Piña said. The other 30 percent are from San Antonio and the surrounding areas and receive in-person consultations and tours, he said.
The company sold 35 homes last year and expects to at least triple that figure in 2018.
Braustin launched the new version of its mobile app this week streamlining the loan application and ultimately aims to automate the entire mobile home-buying process, including generating quotes.
"The entire goal of our company was to give them all that information and tools to do all their shopping without having someone breathing down their neck," Piña said. "I think our end-goal and what we're moving toward ... [is] where you can buy a home on our website or through our app without ever needing to talk to someone unless you want to."