Dignified and Affordable Housing: People Pods

The mission of PeoplePods is to provide dignified and affordable housing to low-income workers.  

The Southeast Asian economy is booming. However, worsening traffic and the lack of affordable housing in industrial and commercial areas force low-income workers to spend several hours daily commuting to work or living in sub-standard housing. In urban centres, this means living in the slums which have no running water and intermittent electricity. Dwellers live in unsanitary conditions and are exposed to danger from poor construction, potential fires, frequent storms and physical harm by neighborhood gangs.  

PeoplePods will provide clean bed-space, running water, electricity, 24/7 security, and other comforts not found in traditional low-cost housing.  

What I did over the summer  

In the last couple months, I gathered data to assess the willingness and ability of customers to pay; obtained enough customers to build the first site; found suppliers of materials and labor; developed rules/policies to manage tenants; secured a strategic partner; and refined the financial model.  

The stipend was used for marketing documents for strategic partners and clients; market intelligence through a consumer survey of 300 workers; and meetings with suppliers, real estate and tax professionals.  

What this social enterprise means to me  

My mother is a humanitarian. She founded a non-profit TV channel and online media platform that supplements the Philippine public-school system. In partnership with the Department of Education, her foundation reaches 4 million school children in over 3,000 schools. She showed me the importance of improving people’s lives. She also taught me that I wouldn’t be able to sustainably improve lives without financial resources. Thus, any organization that I built aimed at social impact should have a robust business model and the potential to scale to attract funding.  

How INSEAD prepared me  

INSEAD helped me round out my finance-heavy background with classes in marketing, operations and organisational behaviour. However, most enriching for me is learning from my classmates with diverse skills, experiences, and viewpoints. The MBA program also gives me the opportunity to practice what I have learned in a low-risk environment: simulations and competitions.  

PeoplePods won the 2017 Kellogg Real Estate Investment Competition. The competition was structured as a real estate idea tournament. We competed against 14 teams from MBA programs around the world. We pitched our business idea on a stage in front of ~200 real estate experts and students. And defended it against challenging questions thrown at us by the judges who were heads of private equity firms –Blackstone, Green Courte and Blue Vista, etc.  

Coming from family business backgrounds, my teammates and I shared the belief that our companies thrive because of the diligence and loyalty of our employees. Thus, we built this for-profit business model designed to positively impact employees.  

I would like to thank our classmates, partners, and professors who challenged, guided, and helped us with the competition and during the execution this summer.  

What’s next  

PeoplePods allows me to maximize my impact on the world, fully utilize my skillsets in investments and construction, and express my personal and family values. My mission is to help thousands of bottom-of-the-pyramid workers all over Southeast Asia.  

My next steps are to create a hiring plan; properly structure the social enterprise; work with an architect for the exterior lay-out and room interiors; engage construction suppliers; begin the building permitting process; create a marketing video for future sales; and, of course, build the first PeoplePods.  

Advice to others  

If you feel the responsibility to leave the world better than you found it, do it. If you keep your determination, you can achieve more than even you believe you’re capable of. And don’t forget that the world is full of good people who will help you when they see you helping others.  


Daniel Layug, MBA '17D Before INSEAD, Dan worked in the M&A team of ING Bank and the equity capital markets team of Maybank. His investments include the rehabilitation of two light industrial warehouses. Dan graduated from Georgetown University with degrees in Finance and Chinese. He competes in triathlon and will be running the 2017 Berlin Marathon this September 24 to raise funds so that Smile Train can give every child the chance to smile. He’ll run the miles, we fund the smiles. To donate, click: