Every year Ryan and I house-sit for some family friends. We stay at their house, about 45 minutes outside of town, watch their dogs, and drink pretty much all of their coffee. What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, Stackhouse was only a few months old. We spent the week in a frenzy of research, patent design, and trying to reassure each other that Stackhouse was a great idea. We had just recently met with lawyers who taught us about defensibility and how, in practice, a patent is really just considered a license to litigate in court.

But this year. On our second day here we found out we advanced to the semi-finals of the Idea Funding Pitch Competition here in Tucson. As an entrepreneurial venture, Stackhouse has been solely funded by Ryan and myself.

We were in the semi-finals for the Denver Startup Week Pitch Competition two weeks ago. What an incredible learning experience. Luckily, the format for the Denver and Tucson competitions are the same. We got great feedback while we were in Denver and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have another pitch opportunity so soon.

While in Denver we had the opportunity to be interviewed on the Denver Startup Week Live podcast. Along with three other semi-finalists, we were given a platform to talk about our goals as a real estate development company — to make homeownership truly affordable for people who want to live downtown. I also attended a workshop entitled The Many Shades of Women in Entrepreneurship — Finding and Creating a Sisterhood. This panel discussion started with a dance party to Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and ended with a networking session.

During the networking portion, I had the pleasure of meeting Emily Snooks. Emily is the Founder and Principal at Ascend Communications Group. While telling her what Stackhouse is all about, she asked if we had ever considered using the phrase “Vertical Communities.” Chills ran down my spine as I smiled and said, “Wow! That is the perfect way to succinctly describe what we do.” I immediately texted those two words to Ryan and his response? “Perfect.” Thank you, Emily, for giving us the language we weren’t able to find ourselves. ❤️

Returning to my reflections on this year, on our fourth day of house sitting this week we have a conference call scheduled with our container home manufacturer to order our model unit. That’s right — after months of hard work, we will have a beautiful, custom-built container home to show our future residents. We will have more details after the call, but trust me when I say we are planning an amazing open house!

This year, the dream is inching closer to reality. This time, when I set up shop at the small kitchen table, it was with a sense of anticipation, rather than trepidation. We still have a long way to go, and the next 6-9 months are crucial for the growth of Stackhouse.

As we enter the last 90 days of 2018, it is important to look back on how far we have come and gear up for everything headed our way.