Tell us about yourself?
Gene Eidelman came to the US as a refugee from Ukraine over 35 years ago, after he graduated from high school in Kyiv. He began developing real estate in Los Angeles while being an undergraduate student at USC; he later received his MBA from Pepperdine University.
Gene built over 3,000 residential units, and over 80 educational facilities on three continents during his career. Gene cofounded Azure Construction in 2019 and Azure Printed Homes in 2022.
He, and his partners Ross Maguire built and remodeled over 50 single-family homes, ADUs, and backyard studios in the last 3 years.
They invented a process for 3D printing entire structures from recycled materials earlier this year, to prefab backyard studios, ADUs, and homes 70% faster and 30% less expensive than existing construction methods at their factory in Culver City.
He was recognized for resettling 6,000 refugees from the former Soviet Union in the late 80s by the United States Jaycees. In addition, he appeared on Oprah Winfrey Show, and served on numerous non-profit educational organizations in the US, India, and the UK.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Startups are know for a lower survival rate, without getting into detail about the idea behind a particular start-up, product-market fit, experience of the founder
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Entrepreneurs have to be resilient, flexible, hard-working and posses a lot of grit. Learn how to accept a lot of “no”s, before getting to a “yes”
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Remember how to be patient. Since I started a few companies before, I thought that this start-up will take off a lot faster. But it did not. “Overnight success” does not happen. You have the patience and have a lot of stamina to make it a reality.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
It is true. This my first start-up since my kids have grown-up, and it is a lot easier to focus on start-up when you can give it 100%
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Our company was started to solve three problems: Housing Shortage – There is a global housing shortage. US housing shortage has been estimated to be 3.8 million housing units, and it is over 400,000 in California alone.
Archaic Building Methods – The construction industry is using the same basic building techniques we have for centuries, resulting in the vast majority of projects delivered over budget and behind schedule. Contractors completed only a quarter of projects in the U.S. within 10% of initially promised deadlines.
There are shortages of skilled employees in every construction trade. Environmental Impacts – The construction sector is the largest global consumer of raw materials globally, and it is responsible for approximately 23% of air pollution, 50% of the climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill wastes.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Azure is fundamentally changing the construction industry by leveraging 3D printing technology using recycled polymers to prefab modern backyard offices, ADUs and homes 70% faster and 30% less expensive than existing construction methods.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Azure started marketing its units earlier this year and already has reservations with deposits for over $13.75 MM of units.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
California has a shortage of housing, and very high construction cost. This makes our product very attractive here
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
High cost of living for our employees. Our employees have to commute a big distance, because there is not affordable housing in West LA
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
High office and warehouse rental cost, expensive cost of gas, and high salaries we have to pay our employees for them to be able to make a living, make our products more expensive
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
We are first to market 3D printing backyard studios, ADUs and homes with recycled polymers, so we do not have direct competition. Since our product is 30% less expensive and 70% faster to build than with traditional methods, we have an opening in our market
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
yes, we are considering moving some of our operations to Colorado or New York. Colorado just passed a bill directing $40MM of its Federal COVID funds to attract companies in factory-build housing, to solve its housing shortage. Buffalo, NY has a $5MM program available for investment in start-ups who would be willing to locate there
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
We will be generating at least $150MM/year in revenue in 5 years with operations around the US, and internationally. We have inquiries about our products from Canada, Australia, Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
People who are interested to invest in our company can do it by going to republic.com/azure. If they would like to learn about our product, they can contact my colleague Ron Barnoy [email protected]. Thank you