Entrepreneur’s idea gives homeowners luxury of more room, flexibility
David Windle’s idea for a portable extra room wasn’t borne out of the pandemic. Still, when he mentioned his fledgling Popup Hut company among North Dallas NextDoor neighbors a few months in to the safer-at-home orders, it captured attention.
The story, however, starts in 2017 when Windle and his wife decided to host their families for Thanksgiving. They didn’t think everyone they invited would RSVP. When they did, their three-bedroom home suddenly became a tight fit that culminated in his sister-in-law sleeping in the utility room.
I built the first prototype, and we used the heck out of it. It actually became my office for a while.
“We tried to make it as homie as possible, we blew up this mattress, put a couple of candles in, and lots of flowers, but I guarantee you she was pretty miserable for the three nights she was at our house,” he said, ruefully.
That need for the occasional extra room didn’t leave when his relatives left that year, either.
In 2019, after leaving a decade-long stint in finance and traveling a bit, Windle discovered his next venture — creating a prototype (and eventually a business) of a portable room that was better than a tent in terms of comfort but just as easy to put up and take down.
His first idea was a kind of accessory dwelling unit that would be easy to construct. Meetings with the city of Dallas (and a look at other cities permitting processes and ordinances) left him realizing that he wouldn’t be able to scale and expand the project easily.
His epiphany, he said, came one day when he went to pull in beside his wife’s car in the garage.
“I’m looking in the garage, and the light bulb goes off, and I’m thinking like, this has some potential, there’s your roof, there’s already electricity running to this thing, there’s a nice concrete foundation,” he said. “I could build something that I could just quickly set up and take down when we don’t need it and be able to park the car in the garage again.”
What resulted (after several months of research and prototypes) was Popup Hut, a portable room that you can install in your garage that can be heated or cooled, has electricity, and can be an additional guest room, workout room, or home office.
“I built the first prototype, and we used the heck out of it,” he said. “It actually became my office for a while.”