Online boat rental platform, Click&Boat was founded in 2013. The idea behind Click&BoatClick&Boat is simple: there are millions of boats that lie idle in Europeans harbours. That’s a considerable financial burden for their owners who have to maintain them.
So the idea was to help boat owners rent their boats to amortise maintenance costs and also share them with other people who love sailing.
Growth has been very fast, and they have completed three funding rounds of 200K, 500K and 1m euros respectively.
The acquisition of our main competitor in France, Sailsharing, in 2016 has been a decisive factor for growth and has given us an advantage over other competitors.
Currently in a phase of expansion all over the world, so Click&Boat is becoming a leader in global boat rental. By the end of 2018, they hope to have more than 30,000 boats in 25 different countries listed on the platform.
Of course in each new market, they have to align their business model with local legislation and business practice. That inspired them to go the extra mile and join forces with professional boat owners in order to broaden the range of their services and capture new niche markets, such as rental of boats without a skipper in Italy.
Team Bizztor had the opportunity to talk with founders of Click&Boat and in an exclusive interview, they shared some of their insights.
Q: So you were working as a financial analyst with MAZARS, then what led you to build the company and how did you came up with the idea?
A: First of all, our love of sailing. I have lived in Singapore and for a few months in Brazil and I always thought that sailing should be accessible to all, even to those who don’t own a boat.
The idea of the sharing economy, Airbnb and the like, was taking off at the time and we thought with Jeremy, “why not do the same in sailing?
Q: With such a unique and new concept, what difficulties and challenges did you encounter in the beginning?
A: At the beginning, getting people to use the platform. Don’t forget that it was early days for the sharing economy in France and Europe in general and not many people where familiar with the concept, particularly boat owners who tend to belong to an older generation that is not always familiar with this innovative business model. Then there was the challenge of securing funding, which we overcame.
And as it always happens with startups, the challenge of hiring the right people and building an international team and corporate culture that reflects our mission.
Finally, communication was and still remains important for Click&Boat as we are growing very fast, especially internationally.
Recently we formed an important partnership with Francois Gabart, a great sailor who broke the world record in solo sailing around the world. Francois embraced our ideas and invested in our company, becoming the official Click&Boat ambassador.
This partnership is really important for us, giving us more credibility and helps us build a global brand and raise awareness on what we do.
Q: If I am not mistaken, the company turned 4 this year. How much has it changed since you started off?
A: We have grown from a company of 4 people to one that is already a household name in several European countries, employing 40 people from 8 countries.
We have also built over time an international brand name and corporate culture that help us stay ahead of the competition and constantly innovate.
Q: What financing method did you choose to launch your company?
A: At the very beginning, we chose to receive funding from angel investors. Our choice with Jeremy had always been to be profitable from day one.
For three years now, Click&Boat has a balanced P&L and doesn’t burn any cash. For us it’s very important to have solid fundamentals and sustainable growth.
Q: How do you see your industry evolving over time?
A: If you mean boating, it is disrupted but also improved by technological innovation, as more people can afford to hire a boat and prefer to explore this way of travelling rather than have a conventional holiday.
In the broader area of the sharing economy, the sector is obviously having teething problems, as it always happens with innovation in business.
An important issue is legislation and how it evolves over time and in different jurisdictions around the world. To give you an example, the UK is a renowned tourist destination and in the boating sector a market not less strong than the French one, which is our « core business » at the moment.
The difference is that in France legislation is more flexible than in UK where the legislative framework is still rigid, although important changes may be implemented in the near future.
Q: What technological leaps are you most looking forward to in the next 5 years?
A: Blockchain could have a huge impact on the marine industry, and the same goes with trends such as AI, big data and the industrial internet.
Q: What’s next for the company? What are Click&Boat’s most immediate goals and challenges?
A: We are satisfied with what we have already achieved, because we are experiencing fast growth and expanding internationally.
Only 3 years ago it was just five of us, sitting around the same table. Today we are a team of 40 passionate people from all over the world. So we have to think of Click&Boat not only as a marketplace but also as a community where all members can share their dreams and are committed to one passion: sailing.
Our community consists of more than 150,000 members in 30 countries who have signed 60,000 rental agreements and have written 40,000 reviews, mostly positive.
Our main target is to become the leading boat rental platform all over the world before 2020. Our mission is to become a reference point for people who love sailing – or may love it but don’t know it yet!
Q: What advice would you like to give the entrepreneurs planning to launch their own startup?
A: Be humble but also ambitious. You need to have your feet on the ground and your eyes fixed on your goal, whatever that is.