First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Slava Solonoitsyn: We are doing as well as the circumstances permit, and thank you for asking. We’re thankful to have our health and safety during this time of the pandemic, fires, and other difficulties, and our hearts go out to those affected more deeply by these crises.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Mighty Buildings.
Slava Solonoitsyn: I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Mighty Buildings. I come from a background of venture capital and have always been a fan of big, bold ideas. I’ve invested in a lot of them, with a focus on disruptive technologies and the way that they interact with the real-world – transportation, infrastructure, and so on. I traveled a lot and found that there actually wasn’t a lot of innovation being applied to the housing and construction sector, and thought there might be an opportunity there. I did some research and networking and came together with my three other Co-Founders to explore the possibilities of applying new technologies to a conservative industry – we settled on the idea of 3D printing dwellings, tested the concept, and were admitted to the Y Combinator accelerator. From there, we’ve expanded our team and vision, and here we are today.
How does Mighty Buildings innovate?
Slava Solonoitsyn: Our innovation, I think, comes in two distinct forms. The first is in materials science: we created a material (LSM, or Light Stone Material) that is strong, lightweight, fast-setting, human-safe, fire and water-resistant, and thermally optimal for constructing homes.
Our second innovation is in our vision: using our materials and processes, we are working towards democratizing home construction in an affordable and sustainable way for the whole world. We have a facility in Oakland, California, that we’d like to be able to replicate around the world with the help of partners in construction, technology, and even government.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Slava Solonoitsyn: While we absolutely view the pandemic as an awful development in our world, we have been fortunate to have it not affect us greatly. Our production facilities are largely automated, and we have been able to adopt protocols to protect our workers above and beyond our normal practices.
Separately, we’ve observed that the pandemic has encouraged people to consider the possibilities of long-term remote work, increased multi-generational living, as well as separated living and working spaces, such that the pandemic may cause people to consider the viability of Accessory Dwelling Units like ours more than they would have previously.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Slava Solonoitsyn: In a sense, every choice we make is a difficult one. The key is to learn from the experience when a decision turns out differently than you anticipated and use that learning to continually improve. It is important to contextualize the choices we make that can have a lasting impact on our lives and the lives of others against the ones that don’t really matter.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Mighty Buildings in the future?
Slava Solonoitsyn: I have found that the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is to apply myself to my work with increased focus and vigor, to exercise and eat well, and to focus my attention on helping others to the best of my ability.
As far as the future, we’re looking forward to taking our technology and processes across the country and around the globe. Construction, housing, and shelter are generally universally applicable and needed, especially when it’s affordable and sustainable. To that end, we’re developing global partnerships through which we’ll share what we’ve learned with the world, and in so doing, create opportunities for a more sustainable future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Slava Solonoitsyn: It really depends on how you look at things. The size of the construction market and the number of units needed to close the housing gap is so large that there is plenty of room. Here in California alone, we need 3.5 million new units by 2025 and are on pace to build less than 1 million over that time. Globally, the construction market misses out on $1.6T annually due to a lack of productivity.
Our goal is to be a tool for the industry to allow existing and new players alike to unlock the productivity needed to build all those homes through the design & market-agnostic Production-as-a-Service model. By establishing printing hubs in areas where we have partners and demand, we can quickly and cost-effectively build units for a market while also creating jobs that will attract a new generation of workers into the industry. Additionally our technology allows us to set up in existing warehouse space with a minimal footprint to further maximize efficiency and reduce transportation costs.
Your final thoughts?
Slava Solonoitsyn: We would love for your readers to reach out to us at our website to start a conversation about sustainability, 3D printing, or anything else that’s on their minds – building a better future is a group effort.