What if the housing of the future wasn’t built on site but instead built in a factory and then shipped and set up within minutes of arriving? That’s what Jeff Wilson of Jupe and Natalie Rens of Astreia are working on. On this exciting dual-guest episode of Campfire, Jeff and Natalie chat with Jackson about the speed of prefab, how homes can be more tech-enabled, the favorable regulatory environment in Texas + Florida versus California, and how entire cities could be made with prefab.
Campfire is brought to you by Cabin - a network of coliving neighborhoods for nature-loving creators and remote workers. You can learn more at the following links:
Read more urbanist content at The Future of Living Newsletter
Jupe’s and Astreia’s websites
Jupe and Astreia on Twitter
Jeff and Natalie on Twitter
Hosted by @JacksonSteger
Sound Engineering by @Prodcolin
Videos and Clips by @McdonnellCallum
Produced by @PhilippeIze
[00:00:00] Jackson Steger: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone. This is Jackson Steger, and you're listening to Season 2 of Campfire, but you knew that already. Let's get it.
[00:00:11] This season of Campfire seeks to understand how to build new cities. Each week we are joined by experts and practitioners from different startup cities who will share the stories and lessons that they have learned from experimenting with radical new models of living. Cabin is building its own network city, which you can learn more about by visiting www.creatorcabins.com or by following us on Twitter @CreatorCabins.
[00:00:33] Today, we're switching it up. We've had two guests at once before, but never have we had two guests from two different organizations on the show at the same time. Natalie Rens, CEO of Astreia, and Jeff Wilson, CEO of Jupe, are both building companies in the prefab space. It became pretty clear to the team at Campfire, after our conversations with Phil, Freeman, Gene and Zach, that regardless of approach to building new cities, we're going to need someone to help do the literal building of infrastructure that houses people.
[00:01:04] Prefab could be a viable and flexible option. I am reading from Wikipedia here. Prefab refers to the specialist dwelling types of prefabricated buildings, which are manufactured offsite in advance, usually in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled. Jeff and Natalie have distinct but occasionally overlapping approaches to this model. I was thrilled and grateful to have experts like them on the show. We compared notes from their respective strategies, and I tried to understand how fast hardware and comprehensive software platforms, like theirs, might be able to work together to help build the cities of the future. I hope you enjoy, and as always, if you have feedback, you can reach out to us @CreatorCabins, or you can DM me personally on Twitter @JacksonSteger. Thanks.
[00:01:49] Natalie and Jeff, welcome to Campfire.
[00:01:52] Natalie Rens: Thank you.
[00:01:53] Jeff Wilson: Hey, good to be here.
[00:01:52] Jackson Steger: So this season so far, we were talking about before we hit record, has been all about building new cities. So far, we've talked with a coliving and walkability thought leader, a pair of educators building temporary cities, and the author of www.startupcities.com. Today, I'm really excited because you're both practitioners in the prefab building space, and perhaps building some of the infrastructure for some of the future cities and current cities that we've talked about on this show. So, before we go any further, I would love if you could both, in a few sentences, tell our audience what your respective companies do and describe the structures that you each build. And Natalie, I'll let you go first.
[00:02:39] Natalie Rens: Sure, Founder and CEO of Astreia. The ultimate goal for us is to build the first development on Mars. And so, a lot of our design constraints is geared towards how do you produce housing that is very rapid to ship and assemble, has to be able to be packed very efficiently as well, and then once you assemble it, have it be self-sustaining eventually. Mars is obviously slightly resource constrained, so we work on doing that on Earth, creating panelized IKEA-style housing that we produce offsite. We package and ship the containers, ship, assemble it, and then we're really working on more of the large-scale developments on Earth and trying to reach a bit more climate sustainability here.
[00:03:21] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. So, Jupe is what we call autonomous off-grid housing platform. And so, what we are building is the ability to set up off-grid a village in a day. So that’s not only the living unit, it's all the infrastructure that you might have in a typical city with a Starlink set up anywhere on the face of the planet. And so, the sort of ideals we're working towards are that housing, there's no reason it should be plugged into the grid, and there's no reason it should be plugged into a specific piece of land. So, not only will these villages set down in a day, but then they will flat pack up and ship out in a day. So, that's what we’re doing.
[00:04:08] Jackson Steger: And I'd love to hear just a little bit more about the structures for both of you that are currently available, and we'll go and reverse order there. Jeff, back to you.
[00:04:17] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. So, we started on the winter solstice of 2020, the first pandemic year. To date, we're set up at 17 sites, 13 of those sites in the last 90 days. We've made about 90 Jupes, and we can make 40 a month. So, we have a 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Houston where we make these right now. They basically consist of a chassis that's about 8.5 wide by 13 long by about 18 inches high. And inside that chassis we pack the entire body of the living unit. And right now, these living units are essentially soft top tents, if you will, but with solar, all the furniture, the lighting, the bedding, all that stuff packed into that volume to give a really comfortable like sleeping experience.
[00:05:07] Right now, specifically our kind of Tesla roadster, if you will, is the glamping market. That's how we're getting going as we build out our infrastructure. We've also just deployed our first few toilets as well. So, that's where we are.
[00:05:22] Jackson Steger: Natalie, I want to also come to you in a second. But just for the audience, Jeff, you call this glamping model your Tesla Roadster. Could you explain, with using Tesla as that example, what exactly that means in terms of your long-term strategy for the audience?
[00:05:35] Jeff Wilson: Yeah, long term we want to solve housing problems for, first, a hundred million folks that are displaced through climate disasters, refugees, homeless. And then later we want to serve a big portion of the 1.5 billion people on the planet without adequate housing. However, it's very difficult, especially in the hard tech space, to leap there. I don't know, relative to Tesla, how difficult that would have been to leap to a model three. So, we've got to start with something that's not as regulated, that’s much more profitable, that may be a smaller kind of market.
[00:06:12] So, we've been able to immediately deploy into this kind of glamping space, if you will, and begin to get revenue and dial in our manufacturing, so we can get down to where we're making a Jupe in less than a minute, which is our goal within a couple of years to get to, which my co-founder made a Cadillac Escalade pushed one out the door every 57 seconds. So, right now, and in the foreseeable future, I think our little tents will be less complicated than an Escalade.
[00:06:46] Jackson Steger: I can imagine that is quite true. Natalie, I'm curious how you think about the structures that you offer now. And then also, I imagine the longer-term vision for Astreia is that you will build these smart homes at scale across Earth and then advancing towards this development on Mars, like you said. How does thinking about development on Mars influence how you're designing your homes on Earth right now?
[00:07:13] Natalie Rens: Yeah, so I would say that we're a little bit more in the permanent housing or like primary residential housing sector than Jeff is. So, we target at this moment in time 850 to 1500 sq. ft. housing. Very permanent. Our walls are 6 to 8 inches thick because we're obviously trying to reach a point of sustainability on your energy and also your water, and eventually your air systems as well. We have a development under development now. It's 125 rooms and that’s really our first target. And I think we are similar in terms of we want to be able to produce very rapidly, very scalable housing. And so, offsite for a couple days production, and then at this moment, we're about seven days on-site, and we would like to get to the point in time that we can be at one day per house on-site. For comparison, the average single-family home in the U.S. takes seven months to construct as of today. So, we're fairly inefficient in the construction industry.
[00:08:10] I think some of the design constraints that we consider are we are very heavy on how do we actually design our structure so that it can be packed even today in our shipping containers. And so, we have a constant kind measurement of how many of the homes could fit in the shipping containers and could fit on the Starship, that’s probably around roughly 14, although obviously their metrics will change over time. And so, we want to get down to having much lighter structures that are still just as efficient and much thinner as well, so lower mass. And so, that's a primary driving force on how do we actually ship things, what are needed to Mars, but also how do you produce a scalable prefab company on Earth, which I think a lot of people have actually tried and failed at today quite perfectly. So, I think that's one section.
[00:08:52] And then obviously the other side is that once it's there, you want it to be easy to build, and then you have to be just insanely efficient at every single part. And it's not just your resource usage, but it's also just how do you design a structure, so that it has better pressure systems and that just you’re using less material to actually create the habitable space.
[00:09:12] And then even in our materials, we don't use any wood because we're never going to grow trees on Mars. At least by the time I'm dead, we won't be dead. So, it's kind of, yeah, we work a lot with materials. We started with steel. We're working towards composites because that would be more likely. And I think we don't necessarily design specifically to Mars due to the constraints that I’ve highlighted.
[00:09:30] Jackson Steger: I appreciate you saying that. You mentioned how there have been lots of attempts in this space. And yeah, I'm curious because both of you referenced the speed and efficiency plays of prefab. And so, I would love for both of you to take this question, and whoever wants to can jump in first, but what exactly does it mean for something to be prefab, and like why hasn't that been the status quo in the last hundred years, if it’s so efficient? Like what are the challenges keeping it from being so mainstream?
[00:10:05] Jeff Wilson: I’ll let you go, Natalie.
[00:10:07] Natalie Rens: Yeah, sure. I think prefab is primarily, so it's anything that is produced offsite in a factory rather than being onsite construction. The two main models are that you either produce modular housing or structures. And so, these are what you typically see as these boxes that are shipped aside or manufactured homes. And then the other option is to do panelized construction, which is what we do, and that's more the kind of IKEA focus. So, you make that kind of components, and you ship that kind of components and then you wrap it onsite.
[00:10:35] I think prefab is actually much more heavily adopted in places like Europe already. I think there are some cultural elements there. There's a lot more push for high quality builds, sustainable builds. They have a much denser population. I think the U.S. was a little bit tarnished at I think the manufactured housing industry, and we did actually have the Sears catalog homes back in, or what was that, like a hundred years ago, which were wildly successful and then collapsed, and we just never really saw the return of that here.
[00:11:03] I think we're now reaching a point where the construction industry, which is very strong in the U.S. and in some ways does lobby against other technology, it's reaching a point where the cost of labor and the shortage of labor and the cost of material is forcing people to have to go this route, even against the kind of pushback that you get here.
[00:11:22] And I think the other side that you just have to consider when you are a prefab company is that you have a very heavy CapEx in a very constrained market. And so, traditionally this has killed a lot of companies because if you only have a 500-mile radius or so that you can serve in the housing industry around, you collapse as we die and all the other construction and the much more flexible construction companies survive, and I think that's one thing that at least we've taken into consideration on how do we actually expand that way, so that when you have these local fluctuations that you have, that you can actually continue to supply.
[00:11:54] Jackson Steger: Anything to add there, Jeff?
[00:11:55] Jeff Wilson: Yeah, I think she's broken it down right. You're either shipping air or you're not shipping air. If you're shipping air, then a lot of the labor complexity gets taken out onsite. So, a mobile home, a big box, right? Like a container house or something, but we won't get into container houses, but a big box. So, you get it to site, you drop it on a slab, you plug it in. It can be pre-permitted by the state at the state level, an old Nixon era kind of rule.
[00:12:25] And then there's the other, which gets more complicated. And I would put most of the stuff, you know, what Natalie is doing in panelizing, what I'm doing with flat-packing and popping up, I would even say the 3D-printed robot how are similar as well to where there's a lot of complexity on.
[00:12:43] And so, what I think people run into when you are assembling things onsite, which I'm included in this as well, is what I call like The Home Depot parking lot test. So, if you can't go down to The Home Depot and pick up a couple of guys and bring them over to the site, when somebody doesn't show up, and you need those guys to work on your technology, it adds a lot of problems around scale to the actual modular build. So, in a regular build, if you need somebody to pour a foundation, to put up a wall, to tape and float something, you can generally find folks to do that stuff. But you put a SIP panel or a 3D printer, or even a Jupe in front of these folks, they're typically not, those skillsets are not going to exist at a very wide set.
[00:13:37] So, I think one of the issues and one of the problems that Natalie and I are both probably trying to solve for is lessening that complexity of bringing it out of the container and getting it set up, or in my case, getting it off the truck and popped up. So that's the trade-off. The kind of modular promise, as they've called it, that goes back to Buckminster Fuller who was working on this stuff like back in the 30’s, is that like modular housing, modular prefab will be faster, higher quality, and cheaper. And really we haven't hit any of those, even two of those three, but definitely not the cheaper so far. I think, ultimately, modular prefab needs to be probably 40% cheaper than a typical build for developers to really pick it up and run with it, in my opinion.
[00:14:28] Natalie Rens: I think we're seeing a bit more bites even at a kind of like median market price, but I think there are, if you're working, for example, as a B2B selling to developers, you also get a lot of costs just by being faster. And so, if you can genuinely be faster than a traditional construction build, then for a developer, that means that they are getting lower interest that they have to pay, they’re getting towards tenants moving in, so they're generating revenue faster, and then also for their investors who are getting that return back. And so, I think that generates more capital, even if you're at that median. But definitely historically, we've had companies that actually would be more expensive than, some of the even startups that are out there right now are selling it at like $400 a square foot.
[00:15:08] Jeff Wilson: Oh wow.
[00:15:09] Natalie Rens: Yeah, like for things that are actually smaller. And so, I think that is where that promise is not (00:15:14).
[00:15:15] Jackson Steger: I would bet that both of you had a large number of prototypes, or at least an iterative design process, but correct me if I'm wrong. I'm curious what you would recommend to other builders, architects, engineers who might be listening to this, who are thinking about designing their own prefab structures. How should they approach the problem? And maybe what would you have done differently in the earliest days of your company when you were designing the structures?
[00:15:44] Jeff, I see that you're listed as Chief Design Officer in addition to being the CEO. So, maybe do you want to start, and then Natalie will go over to you?
[00:15:52] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. So, we went through Y Combinator Summer batch last year, and 90% of the company is on Y Combinator software companies. And there's a reason, right? It's just a whole lot easier to scale a software company, and it's a whole lot easier to iterate. And what happens to us in the hard tech space is just moving atoms around, having to occupy space time is a really difficult thing to do with fast capital, with venture capital. And one of these like main axioms is launching early, pushing stuff out earlier than you think it's ready. And I think we've really followed that with Jupe. Like we put our first Jupe out, that was one of our early prototypes, and I got the founder of Soilet to sleep in it. Like he had been eating his own dog food for a while as he was creating Soilet, and I'm like, bro, you can handle sleeping in a Jupe that's unpermitted in someone's backyard in L.A. for a week and give us some feedback.
[00:17:00] As long as nobody is going to get hurt in the process of what you're doing, I think my biggest encouragement is if you're building any kind of housing product, to get folks living in it, whether it's yourself or someone else, as soon as possible, and start that feedback loop between, hey, this is what the user says, improve the product. This is what the user says, improve the product. So, in brief, I think getting folks in your prototypes as soon as possible and getting them built is really important in this space.
[00:17:34] Natalie Rens: Yeah. I'd say we did a similar approach where we got our contract, like offer was built insanely fast, and we had no time. They came to us on a Friday, and we had to have the target done by the Wednesday next week. And so, it was just whole fire. And we went out onto that build, and we made a thousand mistakes because we were learning every single step of that process, and we were working with composite material, et cetera. And so, there was a lot there that was new, and I think that we went straight into doing that and we built it. And I think that was the most terrible thing we could possibly have done because I think even the intensity of having taken that route and we had a very strict timeline on the build meant that we didn't have that time to sit there and overengineer things. We had to really just make those mistakes and learn from them and then go again.
[00:18:16] And yeah, we took that and we went, we took lot of those learnings into our next alteration. And then while we’re in that next kind of design phase, we actually talked to some engineers, we just got this design, like the light bulb, and then went onto our third alteration. And very much we're a lot more oriented to so far in how do we actually build for the process. And so, we designed everything for the process and for the shipping. And then, ultimately, it'll be a little bit more mature in terms of, yeah, okay, let's start designing this more to a user experience side of it. But yeah, that's our main priority at this point in time.
[00:18:45] Jackson Steger: Thanks for sharing. Natalie, on your website, you mentioned that your homes are smart homes, they have their own operating systems and sensors. Can you elaborate on why your homes have an operating system and how exactly that works?
[00:19:00] Natalie Rens: Yeah. So, actually my background was in neuroscience and AI. And so, I actually came into Astreia very much more focused on, okay, if we're going to go to Mars, we probably want a really smart environment. You know, if any of these parameters, like oxygen, go wrong, you can fix this before it’s a little bit too late. And so, it was actually the first thing that I focused on. And I think, one, obviously it's super important for Mars because that is the environment where a single parameter going wrong is game over, and it's really hard as a human to keep an entire environment officially sustainable for that long. And so, we need to have that. But then also on Earth, I think there are two applications, the first is sustainability and resilience. Even beyond just energy efficiency, water efficiency, thermal efficiency, if you can detect if there are faults in a home and you can keep the people safe and you can detect their water leaks, it's actually what causes most of our water waste in the U.S. at least. And then if you're like us, I think focusing a little bit more on the climate vulnerable areas as well, then if something hits here, a little bit more likely to be safe inside of that home.
[00:20:02] And something also that we have that’s just a functional aspect here, but then I think the longer-term play would be how do you create a very intuitive home. So, we start moving on to what we have now, which is energy monitoring, water monitoring, and environmental condition monitoring, motion lights and you start being able to detect what do people actually want when they get inside their homes, what things should be turned on, what needs to be turned off. So, instead of having to go there and be like, hey, Alexa, turn on the light, you actually just have a house that understands your patterns of behavior. And so, I think that's the much longer term.
[00:20:32] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. Well, add to this, I think she's onto something really big here. No one has really Teslafied the home. People are laughing years ago when it's like why do you need an onboard computer on your car? What does Artificial Intelligence or machine learning, or why six cameras? This is ridiculous. It's a freaking car. What Tesla understood was that it was a computer on wheels and that they were essentially building an extension of that driver's experience in the car, almost more a gadget than a vehicle.
[00:21:10] And I think the way that Natalie is thinking about this, and the way we're thinking about it as well, we have a Raspberry Pi in these now, we're developing an operating system. You'll be able to preheat your Jupe on the way back to it in the woods. You'll be able to hit a button and your Jupe will light up in the woods. They'll play happy birthday. We have IoT in our bathrooms where like bird noises will click on and things. Like we're doing a lot of really fun stuff right now with this platform. It's almost like the fireplace or the fart noise in the Tesla, we're having some fun with this Easter egg-wise. But I think ultimately we need to build a computer and an AI and a machine learning algorithm with four walls around it, rather than, the way we think about technology and IoT right now is I'm going to stick this barnacle, this thermostat, on the wall, and then I'm going to put this smart speaker thing over on a table and they don't talk and they weren't integrated from the beginning into the UX. It's similar to almost like installing a dashcam on a Camry right now relative to what you get out of a Tesla. So, I think it's a really smart way, they're moving, and we see a very similar future.
[00:22:29] Jackson Steger: Yeah. I was going to ask you, Jeff, as well. Like the way you articulate it on your website is a universal autonomous housing vision, which I think is a really cool way to describe a shelter platform. I want to move away from software for a second just to the real world. So, you're both, to an extent, based in Texas and Cabin is as well. Our first, we call it Neighborhood Zero, is located about 45 minutes away from Austin. What is it about Texas that is so appealing to people in this space? Or is it just a coincidence?
[00:23:07] Natalie Rens: I ended up there a little bit by accident. I arrived in the U.S. end of 2019. I was in L.A., pandemic hit, and I didn't really know that much better, but I knew that Tesla was about to sit up in Austin, and if really smart people are setting up in Austin, why not? I got out and went there more just because I figured there was slightly better manufacturing and tech available there.
[00:23:28] Jackson Steger: Maybe the better question, have you faced any regulation? Either of you. And I guess that's where my question was leading. What have regulatory challenges been for either of you as you've started your companies, and what others might you anticipate as you continue to grow?
[00:23:45] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. So, from a regulatory environment, we have purposely chosen to literally go out into the woods, the desert, the mountains, the forest to build out our platform, our technology, and our business with the idea that later we will begin to move these around and potentially come back towards the cities. When you're out in a distant county that might be near a national park or somewhere where people want to stay, we don't have to go through the same level of regulatory process. We've also designed the Jupe such that they don't ever attach to the grid, they don't need a foundation, they're not on wheels, they don't have water in them right now, they set up an hour and a half and they take down an hour and a half. So, they're non-permanent. And so, that actually gets us around. The Jupe doesn't really fit into a category right now. And so, it allows us to go a little bit faster from a regulatory standpoint as well. That probably won't last forever, but that's been our strategy at this point.
[00:24:46] Natalie Rens: Yeah. I think Texas is obviously a little bit more of a regulatory haven than California is, especially for building. I think trying to build in California is impossible if you're, like even if you're trying to do water reuse, it can take you years to get permits there. And so, I think Texas definitely has an advantage there, and I'd say Florida as well.
[00:25:05] I'd say, in general, our approach has been to go quite top down. And so, we went and spoke to City of Brownsville coming into the first build, and I think I'm currently visiting Florida just looking at our next pipeline, and the first step was to meet with every single county down here and just see where are the housing crisis, what are the kind of drivers here for both workforce kind of housing or median’s affordable housing and also sustainability. And if you’re going from that direction, then you get a lot more buy-in to say, hey, we're actually coming to help your county, or we're coming to help your city, what can we do here to make sure that we're expediting this kind of problems that you have. And I found so far that it's a better strategy. And the U.S. is also not the only market. There are a lot of other countries where you can build faster because the bureaucracy is a little bit less. And so, we strategize moving out according to where we can build the fastest. And if you can then build in those places, you use that as a precedent to then go to places that are a little bit harder to.
[00:25:57] Jackson Steger: So, as you bring up other markets outside of the U.S. and just growing in general, the question that we have at Cabin is, not just houses or glamping units or any other number of individual structures be built out of prefab, but can we build entire prefab cities? And I know you both have your different approaches to this.
[00:26:25] Natalie, I want to start with you just with that as the question, but also as a follow-up, what is Habitat Zero?
[00:26:33] Natalie Rens: I think building the structure for a city is not necessarily the harder part, right? Like you do have to be able to build at scale and at speed if you’re trying to get this realized in any moment of time on the scale of the network states, et cetera. I think the problem with the cities is to be able to actually introduce the necessity for culture and schooling and work and et cetera, and it's much more a political, societal problem than it is a technical problem, I would say.
[00:27:01] Habitat Zero is, I think, obviously the zero or the first test for how do you start to build something that is at more a production level. We went in there. We did the entire site plan to make sure that it was sustainable. It's 125 homes. We do have two commercial lots on there. And so, we are trying to incorporate some other amenities, but really the focus for that was how do we reach production immediately, have 125 homes go up. They sit on their own microgrids, so it's all and that’s their energy. They're tied in with solar panels, Tesla Powerwalls, with a back-up on there as well. I think it’s step one in terms of how do you have a sustainable community. I think it addresses their residential portion. It doesn't really address the entire of their, the rest of what you need for a city to operate, but at least you have somewhere to live. We do have a space bar. So…
[00:27:50] Jackson Steger: Jeff, your website while there's no, I'm specifically talking about your TLDR/Notion page. While there is the word “earthlings”, there’s no specific mention of Mars, but instead you referenced the idea that you could put 300,000 Jupes on a ship and do like the sea setting approach. Why might that be a viable idea and a good one?
[00:28:15] Jeff Wilson: I want to go back to what Natalie briefly mentioned there, the network state. I think the thing that's been overlooked in the whole network state architecture is the actual infrastructure. And I think the way that we are approaching this at Jupe, if you are going to take the network state one commandment, I think it’s what it's called, not the first commandment, but what are you setting everything up on, I would say ours is non-attachment. And a non- attachment, not in just a Buddhist sense to material possessions or this world, but I think that means non-attachment to the land, non-attachment to the grid, non-attachment to any one particular climate or space, and non-attachment to any one particular resident.
[00:29:11] So, what we are building out is a dynamic fleet of not only tents right now, but then bathrooms, Zoom rooms, saunas, community areas, yoga areas, that is dynamic in space and time, such that that fleet does not ever have to attach to a specific archipelago of land. And so, what that makes us able to do is flex up and flex down as per the population wants to be migratory.
[00:29:44] So, I think we have a render on our website of a ship with 300,000 living units of Jupes. That may be a ship that's loaded up either to go to an archipelago of land, as they're called in Puerto Rico, or it could be re-deployed to hate in the sense of, say there's another earthquake, or loaded up and shipped over to Europe for a new network state that might be set up in the south of France. So, what we're really trying to do is build a fleet model of housing and infrastructure that's dynamic and not tied to, attached, if you will, to any one particular place per sole grid.
[00:30:29] Natalie Rens: How do you reconcile this kind of non-attachment theory with the requirement for infrastructure, like your energy systems, water systems, food systems, which all tend to operate much more effectively when they are at scale? So, to have your own water tank is actually much less effective than it is to have a water system, to have a connected microgrid for your energy is much more efficient than to have to have four days of battery or seven days of battery because you never know if there's…food systems are obviously very location-dependent still as of today. So, how do you provide all the actual infrastructures necessary for those?
[00:31:01] Jeff Wilson: Yeah, I was just off a call with our head of R&D talking about a water system. So, you're right, it's not efficient to put a water tank in every Jupe, or even when we have four Jupes together and a hard wall on top of it in a 400 sq. ft. like Jupe, it's not efficient to have a water tank in each one of those. It's probably not efficient to have a bathroom in each one of those. It's not efficient to have just one photovoltaic array hooked up to one battery in one inverter.
[00:31:30] So, the way we're thinking about this is one entire Jupe chassis, if you will, can hold 1200 gallons. Five of those stacked up is 6,000 gallons. You've got a water tank there that then could be distributed. We could have one central battery array with solar panels, where those batteries were transportable to the individual Jupes, or we could wire it up.
[00:31:55] So, I'm thinking that these villages of these not really network cities but network villages may be around 400 or 500 residents each, such that they could set up in this sort of micro-distributed fashion. It's a very hard problem. Anybody that's dealt with this, we might fail. I think it's possible per first principles, so we're going to go for it, but it's a really hard thing to do, especially to give people a latte and their deep nature and their off-grid thing as well, the comfort you want in a city that you wanted.
[00:32:31] Jackson Steger: Natalie, you mentioned, and also I love that you asked the question, one of the questions I was going to have towards the end, and maybe we'll still do it was, what questions do you have for each other. So, I love that you started with that. I also was going to ask a water question. I love it. You mentioned, or you said like Habitat Zero, Neighborhood Zero, this idea that it's the first experiment in your prefab city, so to call it. How might you select other habitats moving forward? What kind of criteria do you look for? I know in Habitat Zero it's proximity to Star base I'm sure is a factor. What might other locations for a habitat look like? And the same question could be asked of you, Jeff, and I'll let you go after Natalie.
[00:33:14] Natalie Rens: So, in terms of location or land selection?
[00:32:31] Jackson Steger: Correct.
[00:33:17] Natalie Rens: I prefer to build in places where you know that you're generally making an impact with what you're doing, and like the locations for us are where there is a massive housing crisis. And so, just demand for housing in that area is insane. We are moving towards a multifamily model in the future. And so, we will start stacking our housing as well because most places, where there's a crisis, they're running out of land. And so, they don't really want these sprawling cities. And in some ways, if you consider Mars, you typically picture these little round domes sitting on Mars. But if you think about what you're trying to do with a big city, you're actually trying to reduce the amount of surface area that you have exposed to this very toxic environment. And I think even for Mars, we're considering more of this kind of like condos on Mars approach. So, that's something that we're waiting to do in the future instead of selecting cities or areas of Miami, etc., or even around the (00:34:04) where there's a lot of space activity ramping up where there is a massive need.
[00:34:08] And then the other thing that is exciting for us is to build in places where if you build there, that you're protecting them from hurricanes or floods or, I think another key target for us is Poland-Ukraine because there's a massive need for housing there. And if you can come in and rebuild fast and they would otherwise have, then you're giving people a home back. And so, that's what we tend to focus on.
[00:34:27] Jackson Steger: That's awesome. Anything to add, Jeff, in terms of how you assess potential spots for a lot of Jupes?
[00:34:36] Jeff Wilson: Yeah. Right now, it's do they have L.A. weather, good weather, and it is near a kind of beautiful deep nature with a view. Again, ultimately, we want to house a hundred million people, displaced people. But what we need to do now is meet our Roadster market, which are folks that want to go into deep nature in a high design unit and pay for that experience.
[00:35:01] So, right now, the great thing about Jupe is we don't acquire to just add land. So, all of our partners, if somebody's got a nice piece of land with a great view and good weather, our business model is that we drop our units on their land for nothing, and then we just RevShare. So, we put it on our booking platform, and we take a percentage of the revenue rather than selling something that will be there forever. So yeah, that opens up a lot of options I think for us in terms of how we do this.
[00:35:33] Jackson Steger: Awesome. As we approach close, first of all, I just want to thank you both for joining. It's been awesome having this conversation and then also seeing the cross conversation too between you. I do want to ask that question, which is, what is the question that you have for each other. As you're in your sort of separate niches, building and building, I'm sure that there are like specific technical questions or other curiosities that I might not be able to think of, but maybe you have for each other. And if you don't, then great, we'll scrap this. But Jeff, maybe do you want to start anything that Natalie's working on that you want to ask her and then we’ll…
[00:36:11] Jeff Wilson: I think I would like to know, if you can only bring one thing to Mars, out of your house or bedroom to put in your house on Mars, what would you bring? It's a whole question of like your house is on fire and you've got to run out, but you're going to Mars to set up in your new house, what’s the one thing?
[00:36:28] Natalie Rens: If this this like a practical question, my laptop because that would be probably pretty useful.
[00:36:32] Jeff Wilson: Okay. That works.
[00:36:35] Natalie Rens: I don’t know. I'm actually one of those I pack up and I move. And I've done this. I've lived in seven countries. I've lived all over, and so I've never had really any material ties whatsoever. I think the one thing that I've carried with me through the countries is the tapestry from South Africa, like a big giraffe and I always put it up, but…And then I'm pretty low-key. So, I'd say laptop seems like the most, yeah, practical thing I could possibly bring, and then it has music on it. So, I feel like that kind of sets me up for life.
[00:37:02] Jeff Wilson: Awesome.
[00:37:03] Jackson Steger: I love that question.
[00:37:04] Jeff Wilson: That’s so inspiring.
[00:37:05] Natalie Rens: Are you focused on ultimately getting to space as well?
[00:37:07] Jeff Wilson: You know what, I, we will be listening for signals from space on how to further build out the Jupe platform, maybe SETI@home. We can tune into those guys and see if the aliens can just send us any instructions to help on Jupe, and then we can support all of the folks getting off, like yourselves. But for now, we don't have a many off planet ambitions. We're just trying to make it out in the desert, which may be similar to Mars.
[00:37:40] Natalie Rens: Yeah.
[00:37:42] Jackson Steger: Whether it's the desert or on Earth or the desert in Mars, I know my one item is going to be SPF, a million sunscreen, to survive those harsh marching UV rays. Thank you both so much for coming. Any call to action that you want to give to our audience in terms of next steps if they're interested in learning about either of your companies? I'll just go in the order I have you on my screen. Natalie, do you want to start?
[00:38:06] Natalie Rens: Yeah. We're about to do a re-design, but go to the website. It has relatively most of the stuff on there. So, www.astrea.com. We tend to post a little bit more maybe on Instagram. We should probably do a little bit more of that. But yeah, I think just in general, if you're excited about sustainability or space, then yeah, reach out. And if there's any ways that we can help out or engage, we’ll start to (00:38:25) that.
[00:38:27] Jackson Steger: Awesome. And for you, Jeff?
[00:38:28] Jeff Wilson: Cool. Yeah. I would love to have folks come down and visit our site south of San Francisco in the redwoods. We have a secret mezcal bar there and a really cool bathroom, we call the portal, that looks more like a time machine. So, if anybody is coming out to the Bay Area, we rent that place out to groups. We’re happy to give folks a tour. They can just reach out to me on Twitter @ProfDumpster or go to www.jupe.com and they can reach us there.
[00:39:01] Jackson Steger: Great. We'll have to do this again over mezcals in the redwoods. Jeff, Natalie, thank you both so much for coming.