The collaborative consumption space continues to grow, as startups drop the business model into new markets. GetMyBoat offers a boat-sharing service, where boat owners can list their respective watercraft for rental by those without.
The genesis of the company comes from two sailors and serial entrepreneurs:
About a decade ago, long before the days of the sharing economy and just as the internet was taking off, serial entrepreneurs and founders of GetMyBoat, Sascha Mornell and Rafael Collado, were on a sailing trip on the Atlantic Ocean and they both wondered: “Why can’t more people have the opportunity to experience the exhilaration of being on a boat?”
But as a boat owner himself, Raf knew firsthand the reason why – only a small portion of the population can afford the high purchase price, maintenance costs, and gas prices.
Upon returning to the marina, the pair noticed the many boats sitting unused - similar to parked cars on the street, they were assets waiting to be mined. The sheer amount of inventory is something that the site only begins to crack in its early phase - boats of all sizes and types are floating in lakes, rivers and waterfronts worldwide.
Thus the seed was planted for a platform to give casual boaters a cost effective way to enjoy luxury boating, while allowing owners to boost the return on their asset while not in use.
The site allows an owner to post their boats, state the rate and book via the website's verified interface and community.
Like other similar sites, users browse listings, check out photos, use search criteria, and contact the owner to find the best fit for their needs. Bookings and payments happen via the site, providing security for all parties.
The 12-person team has already raised an impressive $500,000, signifying just how much value may be unlocked in this space. Boats are expensive to both purchase and maintain, not unlike homes, and many owners will likely be eager to turn their boats into income-producing items.
The team's Q&A with Tnooz follows.
Describe what your start-up does, what problem it solves (differently to what is already out there) and for whom.
The Problem: Boats are expensive luxury goods that have an extremely high idle time - on average 92%. Many people cannot afford to purchase a boat because of high purchase price, maintenance costs, and gas prices.
GetMyBoat’s Solution: Like Uber for boats, GetMyBoat connects boat owners and boat renters by providing a free, safe, online marketplace to rent boats. Our vision is to bring boating to more people while creating a way for boat owners to make rental income on their unused assets (much like a car or a home). Unlike our competitors, GetMyBoat does not charge to sign up, list a boat, or book a reservation. GetMyBoat is also the only solution that is a fully optimized peer-to-peer boat sharing service to accommodate mobile users.
The Customer: As a renter, you can search our site to find and reserve the exact boat to rent in the location you desire. As a boat owner, you can set the price to rent out your boat, create a listing page for all watercraft you want to rent, and track all reservation/communication through our messaging platform.
What is your estimation of market size for peer-to-peer boating rentals?
While GetMyBoat is taking on the global boating market, these numbers only reflect one of our largest segments, the United States. The US recreational boating market in 2011 accounted for $32 billion in sales/services, recorded 16 million registered boats, and had 83 million people participating in boating that same year. On average, boats were only being used 8% of the year, which leaves them idle 92% of the time.
What is your competition in this space?
There are other players in this space, but each company offers something unique.
The majority of the online boat rental marketplace consists of sites that are tailored to the commercial charter experience like CharterWorld.com or Incrediblue. Charter-oriented websites are not operated on a peer-to-peer level and therefore do not incorporate individually-owned boats – the ones that we think will really make this segment take off similar to other sharing economy sites like AirBNB, Uber, VRBO, etc.
Qraft and Fun2Rent compete in the peer-to-peer boating marketplace but they have taken on the greater general recreational powersport rental market. While this does cover boating, it also covers other verticals like ATVs, motorcycles, RVs, cars, and planes.
Please explain your revenue model and strategy for profitability.
We are offering premium services for a nominal fee to all watercraft owners for advertising, featured listings, and additional marketing efforts. As the site matures, additional monetization options will be included.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
GetMyBoat helps boating enthusiasts get the benefits of worldwide inventory without the cost or headache of ownership – it’s quick, easy and free to use the platform for both boat owners and boat renters. Boat owners get the chance to make owning a boat more affordable and potentially earn some income. And because we’re the largest and fastest growing site in the world with over 9,200 boats in 50 countries, we provide both sides with the best possible platform.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
The most important way to raise awareness is to create the most user-friendly, satisfying and safe experience for owners and renters. That’s why we pay so much attention to creating an customer focused interface with high-quality photography, video, chat functionality, and specs that gives prospective renters an accurate sense of what boat they are be selecting.
Additionally, we offer a rapidly expanding Resource Center that offers applicable advice and how-to safety tips for beginners and seasoned sailors alike. Our website is easy to use and hosts various applications that will continue to evolve and make renting and chartering boats easier for both parties.
We also emphasize innovation. Currently, our site hosts a variety of tools to make the experience quick, easy, and painless. These include a currency converter, boat owner response rating, advanced pricing and scheduling system for boats, a mobile optimized website, an enhanced search experience, and an online messaging system.
But our goal for GetMyBoat is not simply to be a passive platform – we want to take an active role in the boating community. GetMyBoat participates in events within the communities around us, both in the physical and cyber spheres. We gain support and loyalty from our customers by engaging boating enthusiasts through community support such as partnerships, sponsorship of boating races, participation in forums and group discussions, as well as hosting and attending live events.
How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?
While peer-to-peer rental is certainly evolving in today’s sharing economy, GetMyBoat felt that addressing the entire boat rental experience would truly revolutionize the industry. So, just as Uber taps into the fragmented market of taxis and town cars, GetMyBoat aggregates an extremely fragmented boat rental and charter marketplace, offering not only peer-to-peer boat rentals, but commercial boat-chartering services as well.
GetMyBoat has created the world’s largest rental marketplace so that everyone (renters and owners alike) benefit. For the long term, we believe that maintaining a good mix of peer-to-peer listings and commercial charter listings is a firm strategy for a sustainable model.
Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?
GetMyBoat is already the leading boat rental marketplace, and in in 3 years time, will have over 250,000 boats in inventory in 100 countries. Visitors can come to GetMyBoat to find all their rental needs, learn about boating, engage in an active boating community, find new vacation ideas, share boating content, and book additional boating services.
Boat owners will find they can actually make enough money to pay for their boats and get introduced to a whole new world with their rental customers. And if we’ve done our job well, they will be guaranteed a pleasant, efficient and enjoyable experiences.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Boating follows the same trends as the travel industry in general. Consumers as a whole are more price sensitive, yet still want a customized, unique experience. Many existing companies in the travel space are chain operations with identical offerings with high prices that are passed down to the consumer.
The old ways of over consumption are out and the “sharing economy” or making use of idle goods, is the sustainable future of the travel industry. Large industry players cannot accommodate the level of customer service that is needed to make a website on the peer-to-peer level work.
GetMyBoat is not only aggregating a highly fragmented boating market but we are also forging the way for an entirely new concept of boat sharing. GetMyBoat owners can offer a completely custom vacation experience, at an affordable cost.
Just like accomodation and cars, boating is ripe for disruption. It's also unique, insofar as it doesn't explicitly threaten a large entrenched industry with ample resources to fight back.
P2P accommodation startups must fight both governments/residents and large corporations threatened by the decentralization of their business model. P2P car sharing must overcome either large inventory costs (in the case of Zipcar) or onboarding enough car owners to create critical mass of utility for renters (such as GetAround).
Boating is an inherently exclusive area, given the large costs of ownership and recreational nature of the product. This barrier to entry likely prevents many from making boating a regular hobby, and with P2P services such as GetMyBoat, boating might actually see an increase in popularity as it becomes more accessible downmarket for short-term use.
Boat owners will likely be eager to boost their return - however, it is not without risks. At the moment, GetMyBoat cannot match Airbnb's $1 million host guarantee and does not provide insurance for either renter or boat owner. Owners need to check their insurance policy for charter coverage, and must add additional coverage if they do not have it.
These challenges are common to these new P2P businesses, so wait-and-see will be the approach.