Humble Abode Tiny Homes New Venture team prepares for competition


Three Oaks senior Sarah Campbell and Harrison senior Jessica Koskinen are hoping their Humble Abode Tiny Homes business will become the second tiny home builder in the midwest.

They hope to achieve this through the New Venture Competition, which is offering more than $75,000 in awards on March 27.

Humble Abode Tiny Homes builds homes smaller than the average 1,200 square foot home. The homes will be 400 square feet and net-zero ready, or equipped to keep the home running sustainably and cost efficient, to keep the cost of utilities down. The stylish, efficient living will be close to Detroit. 

The team envisions building communities and supplying energy to them by using solar and wind energy systems, pumping the leftover energy into the Detroit energy grid.

“We chose Detroit as our main area to build because there’s so much land to build (on) and the old abandoned structures we could possibly use or tear down,” Campbell said.

Made of largely green materials to remain environmentally friendly, the tiny homes are set in a community-style living situation.

“We really wanted to emphasize the fact you can live in a nice home and have the same simple luxuries a regular sized home does as long as you do it with a little creativity,” Koskinen said. “You can still have space and move around and have a life.”

The team began preparing for the competition in fall 2014.

Central Michigan Life sat down with the New Venture competitors to talk about their work.

What have you completed since beginning in the fall semester?

Koskinen: The work you imagine in the beginning isn’t anywhere close to the actual work you end up putting in. We’ve completed the business plan, the financial statement for the next four years and our cash flow statement. Picturing all that done while just starting out our idea in the fall seemed impossible and I don’t think it would have been possible without the competition.

Campbell: We’ve gotten far enough that we found some locations to build the homes. Our business model has high-growth potential because we could go in so many different sectors. We could do rentals or go into residential homes. Maybe we could even do non-profit, where we can help people because it’s affordable housing.

How do you manage to stay organized and make time to meet?

Campbell: We’re roommates, so that helps. That’s been the easiest part for us. I don’t think it would work and I wouldn’t have entered the competition if I didn’t find a partner so close to me. It’s hard to organize. You just make a list and hope you get to check it off at the end of the day.

What is the pressure of the competition like?

Koskinen: There’s a lot of pressure to stay in communication with our mentors, which can be hard for students sometimes because you’re always thinking about doing homework, grades and exams, so this is just additional pressure on top of that. We won’t know what the actual pressure is like until the actual competition. Then the pressure is on.

What are you doing to prepare for the competition on March 27?

Campbell: We’re working with an architect to finalize our floor plans and model of the house. We can have a visual aid to show the judges.

Koskinen: We are finishing our presentation and getting set on our financials to make sure they’re all correct. We’re trying to get our name out there as much as possible. This isn't just about the competition. We’re going to run with it once we graduate, so we’re trying to get it out as much as we can. This competition is just our first step.