Meet the CEO making construction easy with modular wooden buildings
Earlier this month, we had a chat with Thomas Gschwendtner, CEO of Wood_Space, one of our first portfolio ventures. The corporate venture produces versatile, modular wooden buildings and strives to make construction easy.
Since joining Wood_Space as CEO, Thomas Gschwendtner and his team have had their fair share of successes: opening a brand-new facility that will increase production capacity by 400% and securing a 7-digit investment from Tauros Capital. In this interview, we sat down with Thomas as he approaches his first anniversary at Wood_Space to discuss the company and discover what made those achievements possible.
From business opportunity to rapid growth
But first, let’s take a step back and see how Wood_Space started. In 2019 Rubner International Group, one of Europe's largest timber construction companies, partnered with WhatAVenture to identify new business opportunities. The idea of modular timber buildings kept coming up and, after successful validation, eventually became the basis for the joint venture: Wood_Space. What’s their mission? Make construction as easy, quick, affordable, and sustainable as possible. How do they do this? With their modern, modular buildings made of solid wood. Together with Rubner, WhatAVenture built the company: developing the MVP and brand, securing the first paying customers, and setting up the company structure, including finances, funding, and operations.
Fast forward to early 2022, and Wood_Space has set up over 250 modules across Europe, building everything from kindergartens, seminar rooms, tourist chalets, second homes, hotels, and fully automated supermarkets. On average, the adaptable, modular design takes three months to produce, deliver and set up. As well as being fast, they are also sustainable. Building in this way saves 1,200 tons of Co2 from being released into the environment each year. With this impressive track record behind them, it was time to scale the company – that’s where Thomas comes in.
“I always dreamed of starting a second career building and scaling a company, and Wood_Space had everything I was looking for: A unique product that addresses problems in a very specific area, a fantastic founding team, and a great story,” recalls Thomas. Having spent most of his professional life scaling and optimizing industrial production, Thomas was exactly the right fit for this scale-up phase.
Taking Wood_Space to the next level: Production capacity increases by 400%
Opening a new production facility in Austria was a significant step in this scale-up journey. When asked about his proudest milestone building the facility from scratch was the obvious answer for Thomas. The new facility enables the team to increase production capacity by a massive 400%. This means they will be able to produce 250 modules per year when fully operational, thanks to intelligent, automized processes. Alongside this state-of-the-art technology, the facility represents Wood_Space’s core values of craftsmanship and sustainability: the office buildings are made up of their wooden modules, and solar panels on the roof provide green energy. Coming from a fast but large corporation, Thomas has been surprised at “How much you can achieve with relatively few resources and a lot of creativity.”
Why the team is everything
And where does this creativity come from? The team. They have been vital to the success of the new production facility and, indeed Wood_Space’s other achievements. When asked what advice he’d give others looking to follow in his footsteps, Thomas answered, “Select your team wisely; it makes all the difference. I am extremely lucky with the team I work with; find one that is equally talented and dedicated.” But it’s not only the core team that’s been important. Wood_Space continues to work closely with WhatAVenture. Thomas explains, “There is a lot of know-how we can access. It saves us a lot of time and probably also trial-and-error. Not having to worry about all the basics such as accounting, marketing, and HR has also been invaluable.” As Wood_Space grows, WhatAVenture’s role has become less operational and more strategic, for example connecting Wood_Space to its network of industry experts.
7-digit investment sets Wood_Space up for the future
As Thomas approaches his first anniversary with Wood_Space, his vision for the company’s future is clear: “I see Wood_Space as the digital leader in the modular construction industry, providing a distinct and premium product to our target markets,making building easy, quick, affordable and sustainable.” Investors have noticed Thomas’ ambitious plans. The latest, Tauros Capital, recently provided fresh 7-digit funding. The revenue-based investment “helps us to continue our growth without selling shares. With the funds received, we will continue our expansion in Austria and Germany. In addition, we use the money to expand our production and further develop our products," says Thomas. With this backing behind them, the future looks bright for Wood_Space, and we at WhatAVenture can’t wait to support them along the next step of the journey.
Curious about what your own Wood_Space could look like? Check out their configurator on their website.
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Senior Innovation Manager
How to choose the right approach to venture building
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