houston space center and the smartbeetle

How to build a Roaming Internet Vehicle in 2000 in 5 easy steps

1. Get yourself a VW New Beetle

1998 volkswagon beetle - blue, pre pimpFirst off, I already owned the 1998 Volkswagon New Beetle(blue in color). Y2K had just finished with little fanfare, the market was still holding strong and my technology partnership was on thin ice for both moral and ethical reasons. I was spending long weekends in Vermont in between travelling to San Francisco, Atlanta, London. IT Consulting was profitable and a very fun living; but driving the country fantastic would be a helluva trip.

2. Know your technology

tandy trs-80Well, i have often said, my father made decent money and i was just the right age in 1977 to put the Tandy TRS-80 on the Christmas list. The family computer was purchased and all my mother's hopes of seeing her son become an astronaut or stock broker or fireman were dashed. Bring on the Commodore 128 a few years later, a dual cassette drive, a 300baud modem, BBSs, Genie, AOL, the computer lab setup at elementary school, a Macintosh SE30 my frehsman year of college, the advent of Netscape, LAN2LAN, DDS circuit, Cisco, T1s, frame relay, ISDN, DSL ... you get the picture. The die was cast in 1977. I would embrace technology like an inquisitive kid embraces science fiction and Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings: read everything 10x over, don't be daunted by setbacks and try everyday to connect the world.

3. Find a carpenter friend with all 10 fingers (overlook the crooked pinkies)

dave houle applies the vinyl to the smartbeetle vickeryhill.com signMy buddy, Dave Houle, was up for the challenge. He knew wood and power tools and i was an old hammer and crescent wrench farmer from Michigan. Those two skills and my technology experience would prove the right chemistry for a couple of weeks of

  1. ripping apart the interior of the Beetle
  2. building the cabinetry and power system needed to energize the equipment for 40 days and nights, and
  3. juicing up the looks with some friendly-brother-provided decals.

4. Convince your future business partner that [INSERT DREAM HERE] is the future

model of the original SmartBeetleIn short, the vision was in my head and sometimes you need a physical represenation of it. So the future company plan (VickeryHill.com) was to build websites for anyone that needed one: ecommerce, extranets, you name it. If possible, we would build storefronts online and get paid with a percentage of sales. If not, then bill future clients by the hour. Give them help in this growing field. Give them advice. Have fun doing it.

I built a model of the dream car and got to finding some money, the first customer and a committment from a future partner. BayBank had my funds, Harpoon Brewery was the first client and Ilse Sigmund was my partner. That night in her Vermont home, her future husband, Don, had the look of 'who is this crazy babbling nut?'

5. Throw caution to the wind, quit society & hemorrhage money

Finished Smartbeetle, rearing to go from VermontThis step is crucial. There will be doubters on any journey of this type.
Ignore them and follow the dream.

It wasn't that society had let me down. It was simply that i had spent 10 years in Boston (and flying around the country and a little bit of Europe) and i was ready for a change. I had friends and family on both coasts and in-between; the Internet was just coming into it's own revision1; I had made decent money buying technology stocks low and selling high...

What better to spend it on than a little internet-inspired/funded R&R.

See the world, throw around some money, develop the mission for the future company, VickeryHill.com.

Technical Diagrams

  • Physical Layout
  • Service Providers
  • Data & Information Storage