I had my first interaction with Smart Car while living in Austin, Texas in 2004 during a promotional event at a local bookstore. Afterwards, I thought the Smart Car had great potential to become a permanent fixture on urban roadways. In 2009, the car sharing service known as Car2Go came to Austin and I became a member. I had become an avid cyclist by that time and came upon the situation where I needed to get somewhere faster than my bike could take me. The problem, however, was that a SmartCar is simply not made to hold a full-size bicycle and I did not want to buy a collapsible bike or attempt to cram my bike into the back. I knew there had to be a better solution.
In 2011, a startup project I was working on was cancelled. I was temporarily out of work and still no closer to figuring out a way to fit my bike in a Smart Car so I decided to create a solution. I quickly latched on to the idea of creating a bike rack that allowed a bicyclist to easily carry, install, and uninstall it as needed. At the time, Apple had created the MacBook Air and they advertised how light and useful it was. I looked it up, and the Mac Book Air weighed 2.4 pounds. That became my target. If I could create a solution for a bicyclist to put his or her bike on a Smart Car in a simple and reliable way and make it lightweight, then maybe others would find it useful as well.
I worked with a team of designers to create what came to be known as the Free2Go bike rack. When it came time to select a manufacturer, my wish for a USA-made product was fulfilled in the form of 2 brothers from Kent, Ohio. Together with them and the help of a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, the first Free2Go units shipped out in May of 2015. However, with other new job commitments, we didn’t begin manufacturing in earnest until mid-2016 when we could dedicate the time required to get all suppliers and manufacturing processes in place. With the success of the Smart version we turned our sites to Mini-Cooper and BMW models in 2017 and created another version for those that released in earnest early 2018. Since then we have begun design work on additional products that leverage the platform created by Free2Go.
My Uncle Albert, a wonderful Italian man and “solopreneur” himself, always told me that success in life does not begin and end with money, it is about the experiences you have, the knowledge you gain, and the people you meet along the way. Every time we ship a Free2Go, a part of us goes with it. This journey has brought us many new friends, unexpected experiences, and wealth that we don’t count in dollars or cents.
As of mid-2019 we have shipped thousands of units across 39 countries.