- Singapore-based Nestron is now shipping its prefab tiny home Cube One and Two models to the UK.
- The company expects to sell over 100 units in the UK by the end of 2021 following massive online interest.
- Take a look inside the two AI-powered models with smart furniture.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Interest in prefab tiny homes skyrocketed during COVID-19. Now, one Singapore-based company is looking to capitalize on this trend by introducing its artificial intelligence-powered tiny homes to the UK. Meet Nestron, the brains behind several wildly popular tiny homes that have since become a "worldwide phenomenon," Choco Toh of Nestron's marketing team told Insider in December.
Source: InsiderIts tiny homes were such a hit, Nestron's website crashed for a while, likely due to an influx in webpage visits and "extremely overwhelming" popularity, Toh said.
Source: InsiderTo expand its reach, Nestron is now in the process of preparing its debut in Northampton, UK, a little over 65 miles from London. Toh says Nestron will close about 10 deals before the homes actually debut in Europe … … but estimates that by the end of the year, it'll sell over 100 units in the UK. "We believe with the increase in marketing activities upon our debut, there are nearly 100,000 potential users in the UK, which will bring explosive and continuous growth to our local distributors," Toh told Insider in an email statement. Like other companies that ship products internationally, Nestron has struggled to move its tiny homes in the face of jammed ports and shipping delays. But before we dive into how the company is overcoming these issues, let's take a look at the two futuristic tiny homes that will debut in the UK: the $34,000 to $52,000 Cube One and the $59,000 to $77,000 Cube Two. These prices vary widely due to a list of possible extra add-ons, such as solar panels, heated floors, and additional smart appliances. The Cube One is more popular with solo occupants, while the larger Cube Two has been a hit with families, couples, and as a backyard unit. Nestron debuted both units well before its UK plans but has since made sizing changes ahead of its overseas delivery: the Cube One's size was boosted about 16.2 square-feet, while the Cube Two was expanded by about 25 square-feet. Let's take a closer look at the Cube One, which stands at about 156 square feet. This square footage holds the living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen space (which comes with cabinets, a sink, and a stovetop, according to renderings of the unit). Like any typical home, the living room has a dining table and sofa, while the bedroom has a side table, closet, and of course, a bed. Moving towards the bathroom, the tiny Cube One comes with a shower, towel rack, and sink, all in one enclosed space. The little living unit also has built-in necessary amenities like lights, storage units, electric blinds, and a speaker. There's even room for a modern-day must-have: air conditioning units. Now, let's take a look at the larger Cube Two, which can accommodate three to four people with its two beds, both of which sit on opposite ends of the tiny home. Like its smaller sibling, the almost 280-square-foot Cube Two has a living room, two beds, a kitchen, and a bathroom, all with the same furnishings as the Cube One. However, the dining table in the Cube Two is noticeably larger, and there's a skylight for added natural light and stargazing. Both models come insulated and have smart home capabilities using Nestron's "Canny," an artificial intelligence system. Canny can complete tasks like brewing your morning coffee or automatically adjusting your seat heights. Everything is "smart" these days, which means the Cube One and Two can also come with motion-sensing lights and smart mirrors and toilets. You might be wondering how Nestron plans to move its Cube One and Two tiny homes overseas in one piece. Well, let's move on to everyone's favorite topic: logistics, and how the company managed to ship its tiny homes despite global delays. According to Toh, Nestron has had a "solid foundation built in the industry ... allowing it to have a good relationship with experienced and professional forwarding partners." Despite this foundation, like other companies, Nestron has experienced delays related to the global supply chain jam, specifically congested ports in the UK. As a result, the company's forwarding charges were tripled what it initially expected, according to Toh. But instead of charging its clients extra money for immediate shipping, Nestron decided it would pause shipping until costs were lowered. To bypass these congestion issues, Nestron also decided to reroute its original plan to ship straight to the UK. "In the end, [we] decided to travel over to Antwerp, Belgium, and then land in the UK," Toh said. "This way, by the time we reach the UK port, the congestion would've been clear." Despite this detour, shipping costs were still higher than expected, in part because the company and its distributors still wanted to make the debut timeline. "Since the demands are growing and people want to experience touch and feel with Nestron, we took the chance and sent the units off earlier this month, expecting them to arrive late July [or] early August," Toh said. To aid in the transportation process, the tiny homes have built-in retractable hooks to help make it compatible with cranes. The homes' structures are also stable enough to withstand the stress of moving, according to Toh. And all the little living units are also packaged in waterproof fabric to both avoid rusting and to allow for easy inspection. Being in the UK will allow potential consumers to "engage with Nestron units directly," Toh said. "The experience will definitely influence the market interest and purchase power."
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