Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

The Future of Homes

It’s no longer about a big house with a 4-car garage on a boring suburban cul-de-sac.

The 1960’s California suburban world I grew up in was one where success was defined by the size of your house. The family up the street from us had four bathrooms, two family rooms, and a 4-car garage. That’s how we knew they must be very successful.

Today, some of the most successful people I know brag about their home’s compact floor plan, cozy corners, and energy efficiency. It’s a different world.

There’s a bunch of macro trends driving this, of course. Personal mobility is different today (we’re not a car culture like we once were) and so 4-car garages are out, and energy efficiency is in. Families are, on average, smaller than they once were. Demographics have created a lot of empty-nesters in recent years, and millennials are seeking a much different lifestyle than their parents did.

Home by The Sound Life

Anna Watt, an entrepreneur in Puget Sound, WA, has launched a new startup named The Sound Life, to build small energy-efficient homes (using reclaimed lumber and sustainably-sourced materials) which align with these trends. They are starting on the Olympic Peninsula, and intend to eventually scale the operation nationally. Each home is typically around 700–800 square feet.

There is another big macro trend that we all unexpectedly find ourselves in as we slide into 2021: The Covid pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the notion of where work happens. Knowledge workers today can work from anywhere, as long as they have a decent internet connection. And it seems 100% clear at this point that this trend will continue long after the pandemic is over.

Home by The Sound Life

And so professionals who once thought they’d be living in the urban areas where the jobs are are suddenly envisioning life in the forest. Or a second home near the mountains, maybe, where they can live and work part of the year. Anna’s small homes are a perfect fit for these scenarios.

Consumers today place a premium on making purchases that align with their personal values of environmentalism and sustainability. Homes produced by The Sound Life are designed to reflect this, certified by a regional green building program that signifies a holistic, environmentally friendly approach in addition to using sustainable materials and other green technology methods.

It’s good for the earth, and it’s aligned with what consumers today want.

A venture is always more likely to succeed when it’s taking advantage of existing macro trends. And Anna’s startup is right smack at the middle of several salient trends. Plus their small homes are very cool. I want one.

Anna Watt is currently in the Female Founder program at the 4thly Startup Accelerator.



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Bret Waters

Bret Waters

Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, run the 4thly Startup Accelerator, and coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center. Also, I love fish tacos.