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Zionsville entrepreneur creates Airbnb-like concept for tiny homes

Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 08:58:01-04

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – Within less than 400 square feet lies every item needed to complete one’s daily routine – a bathroom, bed, kitchen and living space: This is the average tiny house.

One Zionsville woman wants to upgrade the tiny house experience and help dwellers change their scenery with her new business, Try It Tiny.

In short, Maggie Daniels, the mastermind behind the company, describes the concept as “Airbnb for tiny houses.”

Both the tiny house movement and the Airbnb concept are fairly new to the housing market, but are quickly picking up steam.

New tiny house TV shows are springing up, and in Indy alone, Airbnb hosts collected more than $4.5 million in 2016.

“Like many other people, I have been very intrigued by Airbnb so I listed my home,” said Daniels. “I’m in very rural Zionsville and didn’t expect much, but I was getting booked every week. It got to the point where I got tired of leaving my property.”

From that moment on, Daniels discovered the tiny house movement and decided she would purchase one and list it on Airbnb in place of her primary home.

“As long as I didn’t rent them out at the same time, I wouldn’t have to leave my property,” she said.

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Many people who own tiny houses like the idea of mobility, said Daniels. Though she discovered a great deal of owners do not have a place to park their homes.

“The tiny house movement is rooted in folks wanting to live a more self-sufficient and minimalist type of lifestyle. I think it’s more about the mentality than it is about the small structure. Those types of trends are moving into broader applications and are probably here to stay,” she said.

Tiny homes on wheels can be parked practically anywhere – if they are allowed. This is where Daniels hopes to solve the nagging problem dwellers find.

Try it Tiny allows owners to list their house or land for rent. This includes any tiny home less than 400 square feet on wheels and the company’s definition of land includes parking lots, front yards, backyards, driveways and golf courses among others.

The service is not limited to Indiana borders.

Daniels said “the smile of the country,” also known as the coastal regions, are more progressive in certain aspects when it comes to welcoming the tiny house community. However, she believes there is an importance in focusing on places like the Midwest to offer the concept to those that live here, too. 

During research for her own tiny home, Daniels also learned people are very much interested in these petite spaces, but not always as their primary home. She found some people may use a tiny house as a secondary home or take it along for a weekend trip.

She said most people can find a reason for a tiny home, whether its purpose is for a hunting, camping or "glamping" trip.

Try it Tiny focuses on short term rentals, and those seeking a space are able to search by time period or destination before hitting the road.

“It’s free to list and it’s your property, so you set the terms, the availability and what you are willing or not willing to offer. It's cancelable at any time. It’s very low risk and it could be great for someone who was interested in Airbnb, but was not comfortable with having someone stay in their house, but are OK with having someone park in their driveway,” she said.

Daniels credits most of her knowledge to the American Tiny House Association where she got the opportunity to network with builders.

Once learning the demand for tiny homes and spaces to park them, the IU grad and daughter of Mitch Daniels, knew she had to dedicate more time in order to make her Try It Tiny dream a reality.

After spending seven years working on Wall Street, Daniels returned to Indianapolis where she worked at Kite Realty before Try It Tiny was born.

During the research phase Daniels worked full time, but at the end of the year she made the decision to leave the company and run full speed into the life of an entrepreneur.

“From the research I’ve done, tiny houses seem to attract millennials and baby boomers,” she said. "Statistics find two in every five tiny house owners are baby boomers. But because it’s such a new industry, I’m sure things can evolve with time.”

Daniels hopes Try It Tiny will be the solution for those who want to become mobile in their tiny houses.

“There have been some steps in the right direction as far as zoning is concerned, but until those get sorted out, it’s case by case in terms of jurisdiction.”

Learn more about Try it Tiny here.