Why I founded OneIsland

Daniel Larkin
Published in
7 min readOct 9, 2018


Growing up in New Zealand I had a naturally privileged life.

I grew up on a small farm just out of Wellington where we had endless space to run around as children and explore the world which surrounded us.

My parents were very hard working people — it was quite normal for at least one of them to start work before I went to school, and the other to finish well into the night.

I went to what were considered good schools with other children who often came from even wealthier backgrounds than my own.

I would constantly compare my family’s wealth to the other families of children I went to school with, feeling that we were inadequate because they always had “more”.

School was never a nice place for me and I was constantly bullied by other students and often teachers.

At the beginning of my teenage years, my parent’s relationship suddenly ended causing a relatively unsteady beginning to my teenage years.

My grandad whom I was incredibly close to began developing an intense strain of Leukemia.

I lost a close friend in a mountain biking accident.

I began to uncontrollably question the world I lived in and fell into a rather deep depressive spiral.

The remainder of my teenage years were filled with intense waves of depression and hopelessness as I struggled to apply myself to the things I had previously loved such as academics and athletics.

I found an escape from my suffering in gaming — Runescape to be precise.

I’ve always been a competitive person, so I wanted to be the best at it.

I wanted to have something that the people who bullied me didn’t have — this began my journey into software.

Automation has always been an interesting thing to me, so I began teaching myself how to create software to automate playing Runescape for me.

Throughout my teenage years, I spent endless nights without sleep as I began teaching myself how to create software and products.

I grew out of gaming, I had much more of an interest in making products and companies.

I founded a software consultancy company which I’ve used to learn and improve my skills in software and relationships.

I developed a deeper passion for learning over education, and a love for entrepreneurship, software and technology that will stay with me forever.

At 19 I hit the lowest point of my life as I lost some of the closest people to me in my life, including my grandad.

I felt the true pain of loss, and for the first time in my life, I truly questioned whether it was worth living.

In the most ironic way, I came to realize that the only thing which kept me living was my love and compassion for the world — quite a bizarre feeling when you feel you hate the world and don’t want to live.

When the scaffolding which holds your life together keeps collapsing it’s much easier to redesign a new structure rather than trying to put it back together again the same way.

This period of my life began a new journey as I consciously came to discover my fundamental principle, values, and beliefs which continue to drive me in the world.

I made some major lifestyle changes — I turned to meditation, yoga, veganism, and a strain of psychedelic-esque culture as I emphasized self-acceptance and self-awareness.

I began to see that many problems in my life and in the lives of others could often be changed by a mindset.

My approach to life completely shifted as I lost my drive to be better than other people and rather embraced being different, yet the same.

I came to realize that competition is actually cooperation through a different lens.

Polarity is what defines balance, and balance is what keeps things steady and prevents them from falling.

All of the most innovative companies are driven by competition, and when competition dies, innovation dies with it.

I grew tired of hearing people around me telling me that the world had run out of ideas — people were losing hope in everything just as I was beginning to find it.

I began to see that although I was so privileged growing up in New Zealand my family had actually struggled financially to support my sister and I and give us the lives which we are both so grateful for.

I came to realize that there were people all around me who struggle far more than my own family.

Spending some time in the developing world really showed me just how hard life can be, yet it also showed me how much happier people can be with what the developed world would consider “less”.

I continued to see systematic failures in New Zealand society, and how such issues as homelessness and poverty were resonated globally.

It’s August 2018, and I’ve recently founded a new company, OneIsland.

Our goal is simple, yet complex — to fix the global housing crisis!

For hundreds, if not thousands of years our houses haven’t changed, we still build square-shaped blocks with pointy roofs.

Houses still leak, they’re damp, cold and they collapse in earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

As our world undertakes climate change we’re also faced with increasing concerns about the sustainability of food production, and our freshwater and energy supplies.

While there have been some major innovations recently in clean energy and food production, we haven’t really found a way to connect them into our wider model of society.

People still cannot afford homes, let alone any other innovations that can improve them.

I believe that to solve the problems with housing we need to take a first-principles approach and ask ourselves what the root cause of the problem is.

As we’ve built our team at OneIsland we’ve dug deep into the causes, and what we’ve found is that our homes are failing us because the traditional industries involved haven’t really had any major incentive to evolve and innovate.

Architects, engineers, builders and landscapers can continue to make a fortune off houses which fail to meet the fundamental needs of people because there are no other options.

We believe that taking a software-first and human-centered approach to redesigning housing and that looking deep into the purpose of the family home will provide a solution to our global housing crisis by first addressing the needs of the people who live in our homes.

In my belief, to survive people need water, food, shelter, and warmth, to thrive people need connection and self-sufficiency.

OneIsland is focused on building homes from the earth up, using nature to define our structure and designs using sacred geometries.

Our first model, the “OneIsland Oasis” is a geodesic dome structure which provides the stability and security that every person needs to build a community.

Within the “Oasis” lies a private ecosystem which provides the framework for self-sufficiency by creating food using vertical farming technologies, energy using solar and wind turbines and freshwater from rainwater collection and well technologies.

The “Oasis” will provide a connection to nature more than ever, while creating a positive environment for greater connection to each and oneself.

The world’s housing crisis is an epidemic, a systematic one which will take a lot of patience and discipline to solve.

I believe that every step in the direction of self-sufficiency is a step in the right direction.

Humans, like all species on Earth require connection to thrive — love is everything!

We cannot simply create better housing or cheaper housing — it will not fix our problems!

Instead, rather, we require a better existence!

I’m excited to see more innovation, and for competition and cooperation to arise in this industry in the years to come.