Scott Flynn is a low-key guy with big-time ideas about disruption. His first company, Flynner Design+Build, is a certified B Corporation that has been recognized as a Best For The World Company (Environment). His new venture, which he co-founded with Pete Gombert, is indieDwell—a public benefit corporation that’s gaining lots of attention for its innovative approach to addressing the housing affordability crisis.
What life lessons did you learn from your parents?
I learned to have the courage to never take anything at face value. They taught me that the true treasures of life are the qualities that can’t be seen with the naked eye. With this outlook on life, judgement fades away and compassion arises.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, of course.
How’d you catch the social enterprise bug?
I don’t think you catch it…it’s already contained in all of us. There just comes a time in one’s life when measurable action is required for positive social impact. For me that trigger was in 2008 when the fabric of society was ripped apart in the housing crash, exposing the public to the uncertainty in the world’s economic model. Ever since then I have been striding to obtain an equilibrium consisting of people, planet, and profit.
What was the inspiration for indieDwell?
It arose from the value system of my first company, Flynner Design+Build. At Flynner, we cater to the top end of the income spectrum, to those who want a custom, beautiful, healthy, high-performance home.
I challenged myself to see if I could create a healthy, energy-efficient, durable, sustainable home that everyone on the income spectrum could obtain through either ownership or renting, which led to indieDwell.
To do this, the current status-quo business model of construction, which is to put as little into the structure as needed and sell it for as much as possible, had to be disrupted. At indieDwell, we are just the opposite of this status quo, while still operating a healthy financial model.
Homes made from shipping containers have been around for a while. What makes indieDwell homes different?
Yes, they have, but they have been primarily custom homes—a lot of one-off’s (and some pretty bad-ass ones at that).
Our homes are designed to serve the massive housing crisis we are facing in this country. They are designed to create a positive impact on the occupant, society, and the environment. Typically, homes built for citizens on lower income levels are constructed very poorly and dilapidate quickly. Our homes, which range from 320 sq. ft to 960 sq. ft., are designed to last and to create wealth empowerment, not take it away.
What types of customers are showing interest in indieDwell homes?
Just about all walks of life can find a purpose for one. Because of this, we have to stay focused on our mission to make a significant impact on the massive group of citizens being left behind. With this vision, we are working with like-minded entities such as cities, foundations, and developers to make the largest impact.
Is the tiny-home movement of downsizing and simplifying also playing a role in demand for indieDwell modular homes?
Yes, but its not our primary mission to serve this group of income earners. Typically, those looking to downsize don’t fit into the affordability category.
We’re not only big fans of what you do, but how you do it. Beyond your products, what makes your company different?
That we are leading with our values, which is the basis of a solid company culture. The best part about it, Pete (my partner) and I don’t spend anytime contriving or strategizing on “how to build” our culture…it just comes straight from the heart and is effortless.
What’s your recipe for making housing affordable?
Disruption. We looked at every aspect of the typical construction business and changed it. From the materials, process, product, and business model, every facet got a facelift. It’s true innovation.
What’s something besides housing that should be affordable, but isn’t?
Organic food (our grandparents use to just call it ‘food’). The most important decision we make every day is what we put into our body. The food industry is so subsidized that you would hope the subsidies would tend toward making quality food more accessible. Most mental and physical illnesses stem from the crap society eats every day. Change this and watch obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, etc. plummet.
On the flip side, what’s something that should cost more, but doesn’t?
Meat. Animal agriculture is the most destructive industry on the planet. It is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, and ocean “dead zones.” I am not saying we should not eat meat, I am just saying it needs to pay its own way.
What’s your favorite tool—and why?
A left-hand monkey wrench. The integrity of its construction and the material combination of wood (handle) and steel make it a fine tool. The ‘left-hand’ is due to a whimsical reference made in the Grateful Dead song Greatest Story Ever Told.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
The same thing I have been eating for the past 10+ years, a homemade vegetable-fruit smoothie. My kids think they are disgusting, which is how I know they are good for me!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To taper the frustration that arises when I see our local, federal, and global leaders continue to repeat the same train of thought, and assume these repetitive-ideas will lead to new horizons that will change humankind for the better. This type of status-quo leadership fits perfectly with Einstein’s definition of insanity: “To do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
The massive inequality throughout the world. At the core of what really bothers most people is that we live on a planet of great abundance, especially when it comes to wealth. Yet a significant amount of the global population still lives in squalor, with virtually no hope of escaping it. I am not advocating for total financial equality, which is also unhealthy. There always needs to be potential in the system for people to do better today than they did yesterday. But mechanisms (probably more like a conscious shift) need to arise that smooth out the inequality curve. I believe that mechanism is the rise of the social and environmental entrepreneur.
What are you reading right now?
How to Change your Mind by Michael Pollan. I dare you to read it!
What are you listening to right now?
As far as new music it would be Greta Van Fleet…but don’t get me wrong, live Grateful Dead is always on the top of my playlist.
Rock, paper, or scissors?
Paper. I am a hugger, so I see a similarity there…with the rock that is. Damn scissors.
How should people connect with you on social media?
Personally, you can find me on LinkedIn.