Episode 26: Tiny Homes, Dumpster Living and Minimalism | Jeff Wilson

Professor Jeff Wilson tells us how his experiences of “living small” helped spark his company Kasita, which is changing how housing is built, and solving problems of urban density and overcrowding. This was a crazy fun interview where we learned about his experience of living minimally, and living in a dumpster for a year. Wilson founded a company based on 350 square foot houses that stretch the boundaries of what we actually need to live a good life, including innovative living, wardrobe and meal plans, etc.

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Key Takeaways:

[:38] Today our guest is Professor Jeff Wilson, founder and CEO of Kasita Tiny Houses, aka Professor Dumpster.

[1:58] Jeff was born in Boerne, Texas, and went to Texas A&M. He went into the business world and ended up in Silicon Valley in the late 90s, and then went into academia. He came back to Austin as a Dean and Professor of Environmental Science.

[3:42] He had a lot of prior experiences, living in strange and small places. He lived in a closet, his office, and couch surfed all around 40-50 countries. His innovative living ended up being one of the ingredients in developing Kasita.

[5:00] He had three younger sisters and they took over the bedrooms in their farm house, and he got the closet!

[5:37] He slept in his office while at the University of Texas at Brownsville, and his apartment lease ended. He got rid of everything but a sleeping bag and backpack and bribed the night security with chocolates.

[7:01] The original idea was to test the lower limits of how much “space” is needed to have a home. The dumpster was 33 square feet, 6′ x 5 ½’. He is 6’1″.   He wanted to see if he could get by on 1% of what is the space of an average household.

[8:40] Figuring out what he actually needed in the dumpster was very difficult.

[10:51] After six months of living in the dumpster he got air conditioning, which was good because it was 132° outside!

[12:51] He has less stuff now then he did in the dumpster. He has one pair of pants, one T-shirt, one dress shirt, two jackets, a pair of shoes and one hat.

[14:43] A lot of previous leaders, like Steve Jobs and Einstein, just had one go-to outfit, rather than draining creative energy on picking out something different daily.

[16:21] Jeff discusses the “dumpster diet” of a ton of coffee and only one meal a day (not for everyone!)

[17:09] Texas State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez suggested he spelled Kasita with a “K,” to give it a modern twist.

[17:38] Kasitas are designed by product designers, twice the size of a small shipping container, but feel large and roomy. They are 352 square feet. Every cubic inch is thought about very carefully, to fit the user experience.

[18:37] Thank you to our Sponsor, the Papasan Properties Group.

[21:03] The Kasita factory is located in East Austin. You can stack them like legos, and fit them in very small spaces. Because of the small footprint, they can be developed in small lots of land otherwise untouched.

[23:27] They are permitted to be dropped anywhere in the state of Texas as long as they are zoned accordingly.

[24:19] Kasita converges with the tiny house trend. Millennials that want to have more experience and less stuff are moving towards small user friendly homes and Kasitas.

[26:04] They have a unit right next to the Scoot Inn, that people can go and check out on designated tours, Thursdays at 10a.m., or anytime just to check it out themselves. They also have a 3D tour available on the website.

[27:02] The Kasita is built with a lot of smart technology integrated into it.

[31:18] Favorite taco is on the secret menu at Torchy’s — the green chili pork.

[33:09] Next week we are joined with Matt Hullum, CEO of Rooster Teeth.

The Taco:

Torchy’s Tacos | Green Chili Pork Missionary Style

Mentioned in This Episode:


Texas A&M


Scoot Inn


Torchy’s Tacos

Quickie Pickie

Jeff Wilson’s Twitter

Download link | iTunes | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn | Google Play

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