Toy manufacturing and consumer packaged goods business Zuru plans to disrupt the global housing market with smart, eco-friendly homes for under half current construction prices.

Zuru, the business founded by Kiwi siblings Mat, Anna and Nick Mowbray, has annual sales of around US$500 million ($725.9m).

It has been working on the project for 11 years, starting when Mat Mowbray decided that construction and property development was highly inefficient on a global scale.

Brother Nick Mowbray said more than 100 people were working in China, Italy, India and Vietnam on the Zuru Tech project to sell ready-made houses to the world by 2021.


Italy and China are Zuru Tech's dual headquarters. China is where all the factory design, automation and robots are being built. Italy and India is where the software is being designed, and Vietnam is where a full-size factory is being built, Nick said.

Mat has met the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc a number of times and Zuru has been granted favourable terms for its project in that country.

"We're putting plans together to build one of the biggest factories in the world in Vietnam over multiple stages," Nick said. "It's our long-term goal to build millions of houses. You will be able to use our platform and software to design your house, go through it in real time or virtual reality, even drag and drop furniture and move it in VR to get a fully immersive experience. The graphics are of perfect realism so you can experience your house in its entirety before it is manufactured.

Zuru's Nick Mowbray, crowned the EY Entreprenuer of the Year in September.
Zuru's Nick Mowbray, crowned the EY Entreprenuer of the Year in September.

"You will be able to go on our platform and browse thousands of houses that others have designed and choose to buy an existing design, adapt it, or do your own. The platform is truly incredible," he said.

Hundreds of patent claims had been lodged globally and the homes will be built completely by robots.

Nick, Mat and Anna appeared on the 2018 NBR Rich List with an estimated $1 billion fortune, based on toy manufacturing. Zuru is said to be the world's sixth biggest toy maker behind Matell, Hasbro, LEGO, Spin Master and MGA. Its biggest brand was Bunch O Balloons which became the best-selling item in overall toys in the US.

Zuru Tech says it develops the first software that crafts real buildings.

"Dreamcatcher is leading the next building information modelling revolution," the business says on its website.


"We have developed a way for you to design and manufacture buildings with just one app. Experience our advanced yet easy to use drafting system, which enables you to design your building and get it ready for manufacturing in a single, effortless step, while visualizing your future house realistically in real-time."

The business says it takes visuals very seriously and therefore wants interior design to be of stunning realism, all rendered in real-time.

Coatesville's ex-Kim Dotcom mansion is now the Mowbray Mansion.
Coatesville's ex-Kim Dotcom mansion is now the Mowbray Mansion.

"To do this, we leverage our Unreal Engine 4, with VR and AR simulation, to best represent your building concepts. Our cloud-based 3D objects, materials and projects library is the heart of Dreamcatcher, enabling you to browse the finest furnishing models with physically-based materials," Zuru Tech says.

Zuru Tech's project library shows house design concepts so people can get an idea of how the system works.

"Our system is created in a way that enhances the quality and completeness of your projects, enabling you to receive reviews and feedback from international architectural specialists, and keep your projects on track with a worldwide network of passionate designers that can help you finish your design as efficiently as possible," Zuru Tech says.

Photos show pre-fab house-building robots on factory floors.

In September, Nick Mowbray was announced as the New Zealand EY Entrepreneur of The Year for 2018 and he goes onto the world competition in June, 2019.

Two years ago, the Mowbray siblings bought the Mahoenui Valley Rd ex-Kim Dotcom Coatesville mansion for $32.5. Records show Mahoenui Valley Trustee is the entity which owns the property.

Zuru has 18 offices, employs more than 5000 staff and is estimated to make an annual profit of around US$180m.