With an Apple Store designer on board, Juno raises $20M to build

juno, a proptech startup that aims to build more sustainable and affordable apartment buildings, has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round.

Comcast Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Real Estate Technology (RET) Ventures co-led the funding, which brought the company’s total since its 2019 inception to $32 million. JLL Spark, Vertex Ventures, Anime, K50, Foundational and Green D Alumni Ventures also participated in the Series A investment.

Juno co-founder and CEO Jonathan Scher said the San Francisco-based startup plans to build all-electric properties Assembling the “First OEM Ecosystem for Ground-Up Development”. (For those unfamiliar, OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”.)

“Were…Treating housing development like product development, a process we call ‘productization,'” he told . “By building repeatable buildings, tools and systems can be created to continuously improve and increase efficiency. If buildings are considered or designed in a one-time context, learning from one project to the next will cease to exist. “

Note that Juno’s productization can be equated to the more commonly used term prefabrication in some aspects. While prefab construction company Katera crashed and burned down, several other companies in the space continue to raise funds and grow, including Abodu and Mighty Buildings, backed by Khosla, but with more focused ancillary housing units and single-family homes. Huh. There’s also the North Carolina-based presenter, which is also building multifunctional accommodations and hotels through prefabrication.

image credit: Rendering of the Austin Project; Engraff Studio / Juno

Juno’s theory is that through “production,” it can create tools, systems, and processes that can lead to things like shorter design timelines, increased accuracy in estimation and scheduling, and a “significantly accelerated” manufacturing process. All of this, Sher said, could lead to more affordable housing options for people across the United States. In addition, Juno claims that its design process is, for example, 60% faster than traditional real estate development.

Like other players in the space, Juno certainly conveys a vision that is far more sustainable than traditional construction methods.

“Today, construction waste is literally 2x that of all municipal waste in America combined,” Sher told . “The Juno system creates efficiencies in the design, supply chain and construction of buildings that reduce waste and energy use.” Features include low-carbon, all-wood construction, more exposed wood (which Juno says is anti-microbial) and completely gas-free buildings, for example.

Sher said thanks to a focus on all-electric buildings in cities that have established roadmaps for clean energy generation, the Juno residential system is moving toward the net zero target for carbon embodied in its multifunctional residential units.

Sher founded Juno with BJ Siegel, a designer of the original Apple Store, and Chester Chipperfield, who currently serves as an advisor to the company. Chipperfield previously served as global creative director at Tesla, head of special projects at Apple, and head of digital at Burberry. Scherr has worked as a venture investor and advisor to several companies.

As the concept architect for Apple’s retail program going back to 1999, BJ [Siegel] Thought about how to create an identity for the built environment, which needs to be replicated,” Sher said. “By doing this, he and his colleagues at Apple began to think of Apple retail like Apple’s products: based in a decentralized supply chain.”

image credit: Left to right: Chester Chipperfield, Co-Founder and Advisor Jonathan Sher, Co-Founder and CEO BJ Siegel, Co-Founder and Head of Design/Juno

Juno was created with a similar model in mind: with the goal of designing “better” housing that could be replicated so that the company would be able to “build a supply chain and foundation for a learning system that could never be better.” Not possible earlier,” said Sher, whose father was a real estate developer.

Juno is starting out by building what is described as the first national network of large-scale timber apartment buildings with all-electric buildings in cities across the United States. and partnering with Swinnerton And Ennead Architects To put your model into practice. The startup has also broken ground on its first project – an apartment building in East Austin – and currently has over 400 units in development. The East Austin Building is expected to open in 2022. Juno also has sites planned for Seattle and Denver.

Looking ahead, the company plans to use its new capital to continue building its product, breaking down its first set of projects, and engaging with more developers.

Juno investors are naturally excited about what the company is doing and plans to do.

Evan Moore, partner at Khosla Ventures, said he generally does not invest in real estate development companies or builders or architects.

“But when a strong team is working on a dramatically different product in an important industry, I will get behind it,” he wrote via email.

Historically, Moore said, apartment development has been a finance-driven industry rather than product-driven, despite the fact that apartments are consumer products and derive their value from their use.

“So there is a tremendous opportunity to design buildings with the customer experience at the fore,” he said. “What if Apple built apartment buildings? For me, that means working backwards from the experience you want to create, designing the components, supporting the supply chain and systems, and without a constraint. It’s an ambitious idea, and well worth an experiment.”

Comcast Ventures principal Sheena Jindal said America’s housing stock is increasingly out of date and in short supply – making it difficult for people to buy homes. That said, her firm believes that everyone deserves access to an affordable home.

“When we first met the Juno team, we were impressed by their first principles approach to construction,” she wrote via email. “Juno basically understood what was broken in multifamily housing production and took it forward by focusing first in the value chain with its design and OEM sourcing strategy. Juno partnered with existing players across the value chain rather than displacing them. does.”

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