Prasoon Kumar

Co-Founder and CEO, billionBricks

Prasoon Kumar is an architect and urban planner with over 15 years of experience with projects across North America, Asia and Africa. In his commercial design career, he designed over 10,000 homes, all for those who had one, never for those who needed one the most.

So in 2013, he founded billionBricks, a one-of-a-kind non-profit design studio that innovates shelter solutions with a vision to end global homelessness. Headquartered in Singapore, billionBricks’ work is driven by the ethos, ‘never design poorly for the poor’. Since inception, billionBricks has rehabilitated more than 4,430 homeless and disaster-stricken people in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Nepal and the United States.

billionBricks’ first product, weatherHYDE is an insulated, reversible, lightweight and women-friendly emergency shelter designed to save lives of the homeless in extreme weather. Ashton Kutcher called it, ‘innovation at its finest’. weatherHYDE was awarded the President’s Design Award for the ‘Design of the year 2018’ by the President of Singapore and Design Singapore Council.

billionBricks’ latest innovation, powerHYDE is the world’s first solar, smart, carbon positive home for the homeless which produces enough energy to pay for itself. It is under construction in the Philippines and India.

Prasoon graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning and an Outstanding Graduate Award for the year 2005.

Case study: Friday, June 14th 12:30
‘Social Startup: a journey like no other’

Steve Jobs, one of the well-known entrepreneurs of our times, could not only envision the future but realise it. But what problem did he solve? The world is full of talented people. They are looking for a purpose and meaning in their work and daily lives. They are well aware of the many global problems that exist and often want to take action. But they don’t know where to start and find the opportunities to make a difference

This is the story of a ‘social startup’. Founded with a foolish passion, an audacity to solve a global wicked problem, and with a spirit of perseverance through unknown challenges. billionBricks has a vision to end homelessness. Its work is driven by a simple principle, ‘never design poorly for the poor’. It started on the premise that ‘we (as humanity) don’t know how to end homelessness’. Therefore, everything had to be discovered from the first-hand experience: redefining the problem, building solutions from scratch, and backing those solutions by creative business models for scale and impact. Prasoon and his partner questioned everything.

Thinking social startup? This talk will answer your startup questions through Prasoon’s personal journey of successes and failures. What can you do if you deeply care about a social problem? Where can you start if you are ready to take the first step in making a difference? And most importantly, how will you make money while doing good? The talk will delve into real examples and experiences combining theory and practice. A social startup is a journey worth risking. If you fail, it won’t matter to anyone; but if you succeed, the world will change for everyone.