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In the pursuit of eco-friendly, affordable living, Sam Ausden stands at the crossroads of innovation and empathy. His journey, from navigating combat sorties in the USAF to transversing the realms of defense contracting, culminates in a venture that champions the harmony of humanity and the environment. This intimate conversation with Sam reveals the soul and structure behind Zero House Co, his brainchild aiming to resolve the duel of affordable housing and ecological sustainability in California.

Sam, could you unfold the journey and experiences that fueled your ambition to initiate Zero House Co?

Hello there, I'm Sam! As a USAF Veteran and C-5 Loadmaster, my experiences span over 90 combat sorties and travel to over 50 countries. The latter part was more enjoyable, yet the entire journey was thrilling. Transitioning from military life, I worked in defense contracting at Lockheed Martin for four years. However, the confines of a desk job didn’t suit me. My new chapter began with converting a van into a high-end camper, relocating to the West Coast, and joining Glampervan. Over the last four years, our team successfully built over 100 vans. My accrued expertise now fuels my venture, Zero House Co, dedicated to crafting net-zero energy tiny homes on wheels.

You've pinpointed a unique niche. What inspired this focus and how does Zero House Co aim to bridge this market gap, particularly in California?

Years spent building campervans led to a significant observation – a substantial customer interest in solar-powered air conditioning, now a feasible reality. This innovation laid the foundation for Zero House Co, intending to ease California's simultaneous affordable housing and environmental crises with our tiny, wheel-based homes.

Highlight the distinct and innovative solutions that set Zero House Co apart in the marketplace.

Each Zero House stands out as a beacon of innovation – fully energy-independent, fire and smoke-resistant, mobile, and affordable. This unmatched combination ensures our valuable customers not only receive excellent value but also contribute to reducing environmental impact, navigating the increasing challenges of our times.

Could you delve into a significant challenge that you encountered and your strategy for overcoming it during your startup journey?

Living in my self-built campervan for the last five years, primarily on the streets of San Francisco and Oakland, has been both an educational and challenging expedition. This journey fueled my desire to present effective and affordable housing solutions, especially focusing on aiding veterans facing housing insecurity and homelessness.

How does the culture within Zero House Co resonate with innovation, collaboration, and growth?

I take immense pride in the collaborative and familial atmosphere we’ve nurtured at Glampervan and now extend to Zero House Co. Here, every individual's vision is heard, and freedom is granted to explore and execute personal projects, balanced with an open dialogue to ensure optimal decisions for the company’s growth.

What significant milestones have you achieved, and could you share your immediate and future goals for Zero House Co?

Returning from a 17-day stint at Burning Man, the Zero House showcased its robustness by delivering seamless air conditioning, air filtration, Starlink internet, and power, all through solar and battery systems with zero carbon output. This success bolsters my short-term goal to secure funding for a successful product launch and pilot production. Envisioning the future, I aim to construct more than ten units daily, addressing California’s pressing affordable housing crisis proactively.

In light of your industry insight, what forthcoming trends do you predict, and how is Zero House Co positioned to leverage these developments?

The inevitable future is Net-Zero energy housing. With the swift advancement and affordability of solar and battery technologies, fully solar-powered houses will become the new standard. At Zero House Co, our clean-sheet designed mobile housing units are primed to exploit these evolving technologies, backed by our extensive experience and unique insights.

Your Kickstarter campaign is on the horizon. Could you share your thoughts on this and other alternative financing avenues?

The imminent launch of our Kickstarter campaign is a thrilling prospect. I foresee it as an invaluable platform for fundraising, enhancing brand visibility, and garnering crucial early product feedback.

What qualities would characterize the ideal investor for Zero House Co, and what additional support do you anticipate beyond financial backing?

The perfect investor for Zero House Co shares our passion for addressing both the affordable housing and environmental crises. I aspire for a resonant, candid, and productive partnership, where their seasoned expertise in business operations and management complements our specialized manufacturing skills.

Navigating the startup world is a formidable endeavor. Could you offer a piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs, especially concerning capital raising and overcoming challenges?

My candid advice? Brace yourself for the journey, it's not for the faint-hearted! ;)

For those eager to connect with you, what are the best avenues to reach out?

Feel free to drop me a line at, or give a ring at 510-274-1602. You can also connect with me on Instagram at @tallmaninavan. Your time and interest are greatly appreciated, and I assure a swift and enthusiastic response. Thank you!


Sep 26, 2023




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