Stonehill, Jules Verne, and Tampa Bay

Over the past few months many people have asked me why we named the company Stonehill.  They comment that is seems to be a very boring name for a company that is involved in such exciting projects.  With the work that we do in data analytics, customer experience, automation, and growth they would have expected something a little cooler.  Everyone is surprised when I explain the story.

When I was growing up I was fascinated by the innovation in the late seventies and early eighties.  My first few science fair projects investigated solar energy, robotics, ocean currents, and outer space.  I was mesmerized by the writings of Jules Verne, the experiments of Thomas Edison, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the futuristic vision of Walt Disney.  My time was filled daydreaming about how we were going to live in the future and the changes that were to come.

I was very fortunate in my career and spent time with a top five consulting firm and a top 20 digital agency.  When the time came to open my own firm, I was excited about the possibilities of helping business owners see the future of business.  The firm would draw on my childhood passions and incorporate data science and creative vision to create change and growth.  When it came time to name the firm it was a challenge.

I spent some time thinking about our mission, vision, and values.  I came up with multiple ideas, but wanted something with an historic connection to innovation and the Tampa Bay area, where the firm was founded.  During that time, I found myself reading the work of Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the World in 80 Days.  I was shocked to learn that From the Earth to the Moon had a connection to Tampa Bay.

From the Earth to the Moon was written by Jules Verne in 1865.  The story centered around a group of businessmen who wished to send a man to the moon.  The businessmen searched diligently for a place to launch their rocket and start their mission.  After a long search, it was decided that the rocket would be launched from Florida at a place outside of Tampa Bay.  The place was named Stonehill.

The amazing thing about this story was that Jules Verne took on the role of prophet when he wrote this book.  In 1865 he selected a location that would be less than 100 miles from Cape Canaveral – where the first rocket to the moon (Apollo 11) would be launched in 1969.  It seems that Jules Verne pulled information from leading scientists of the time to determine a location that would be more than just a fictional idea.  He combined vision, creativity, and data to select a location that would be culturally accepted and scientifically viable.  He chose to place the launch site in the United States as he felt that the culture was that of optimism and determination.  He chose Florida as the latitude gave the best launch point to springboard to the moon.

The combination of vision, creativity, and data science demonstrated by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon was exactly the culture I wanted for my new consulting firm.  The ability to correctly predict and influence the future, with both storytelling and technology, was what I wanted the firm to help companies achieve.  With this idea in mind we named the firm Stonehill as a nod to Jules Verne and optimists who look to change the world!