Boatbound sees opportunity in peer-to-peer

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Peer-to-peer is growing, and Boatbound founder thinks that the marine industry is ready for it.

By Jonathan Sweet
June 6, 2013
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Whether its cars or houses, the peer-to-peer rental economy continues to get a lot of buzz.

This collaborative consumption model is a natural for boating, where many vessels sit unused a good portion of the year, said Aaron Hall, CEO and founder of Boatbound, the latest company to jump into the space.

The idea for Boatbound came to Hall, who has run a number of tech-oriented businesses, last year when he was on vacation in Texas with his family.

“We were at a lake trying to rent a boat, and the marina there had four or five boats and they were all booked,” he said. “But you look around and like every marina there were 500 boats sitting there unused.”

So, Hall figured, how do you connect those boat owners with the opportunity to make more money from renters looking for a boat? He took the idea to his colleagues and investors and launched Boatbound late in 2012.

Hall said he has been boating all of his life, but never owned a boat because of the headaches involved. He thinks there is a great opportunity in people just like him out there.

“These are people who could afford a boat if they wanted to, but because of where they live … they prefer to rent and consume as they go,” he said.

The company is currently in a limited private beta with a small group of boat owners, but plans to roll the program out to a wider audience later this year. The service will be available nationwide, but its strongest marketing efforts will be focused on California’s Bay Area, South Florida and New York.

Other companies, such as Fun2Rent and Cruzin are also entering the peer-to-peer rental space in the boating industry, but Boatbound feels that its comprehensive insurance policy separates them from the competition.

The Boatbound team spent several months working on finding an insurance provider to make sure boat owners are protected, Hall said.

“The first question is what happens if someone damages my boat,” he said.

Besides the included insurance, Boatbound also prescreens renters by looking at their driving record, criminal history and boating experience. A number of red flags, such as a DUI conviction, can keep them from renting. The company is also exploring programs that would incentivize safety training for renters.

Companies like Boatbound are an important of bringing younger people into boating, and hopefully turning them into future buyers, Hall said.

“We’re being aided by these other industries that are … making collaborative consumption more mainstream,” he said. “The latent demand is there. As we start to do this it will help the whole industry.”

Comments

6 Responses to “Boatbound sees opportunity in peer-to-peer”

  1. Stuart on June 7th, 2013 6:24 pm

    Is it just me or does this program seem anti-dealer? I am not saying that there is not a need for a program to capitalize on under used boats, but using the “avoid the headaches of ownership” angle is not good for the industry. I feel that the promotion of peer to peer rental will result in a loss of sales and will negatively affect established rental facilities. I am not sure why this is being promoted here?

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  2. AABAD on June 12th, 2013 4:36 pm

    STU,

    Why can’t the dealer make it part of the sales pitch? The dealer can now tell buyer that the cost boat ownership and maintenance may now be offset by using the boatbound platform – now purchasing/ownership is not as daunting and not nearly as costly. The entrepreneur should turn this purported obstacle into opportunity. Dealers, please don’t be short sited. This is an industry game changer. Another way to view BB is as the “gateway to ownership”.

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  3. jack silver on June 18th, 2013 1:01 pm

    peer-to-peer a terrible idea for a number of reasons. First and simplest is competence… boat skills are not the same as driving a car (and i am really speaking of sail boats). i have taken many people out who have their asa 101,103, 104 who did not know the pointy end of the boat from the other end. AND there is a question of size and sophistication of the boats. AND the sea and sailing area in question vs what they may be used to. AND when you talk about damage you need to include a very very compreshensive BEFORE and AFTER inspection AND then you will or can still miss things… AND the list goes on. The simple question is: would you let a total stranger who has never been on your boat, take it out? Be honest.

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  4. Scott MacFarland on June 22nd, 2013 1:59 pm

    I think the peer-to-peer rental model could be a successful one. However, there are a few issues that would need to be addressed. One is how to measure the competency level of the captain or so-called captain who would be operating the rented vessel. Depending on the size of the boat and where it will be on the water makes a huge difference. Also, safety knowledge when out on the water would be another primary concern.

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  5. Brian Siekierzynski on June 22nd, 2013 3:49 pm

    I certainly see the good and bad to this, as anything. It will depend on size of vessel and area how a program will work for anyone. In the smaller lake areas, like mine in northern midwest tourist country, its called rental business. Rental companies or dealers put in new units, rent them for a while and resell them as more affordable used, thus still making sales. Sometimes rentals can absorb non-current models from inventory, and allow new models to be demos or tried out. The insurance can be addressed in many ways, having the consumer obtain it for the rental duration thru their own home owners or short term policy. Or many just pay out of pocket for damages! Risky maybe but most damage is less than the damage deposit.
    As far as the larger unit or water, much more research would have to invested and risk being higher the cost would follow. Still would be a cost savings and would allow those competent enough not to be shunned out of the “hassle”. There will always be those who don’t want to ‘share’ their boat and continue to purchase and outfit or customize to their personal liking.
    Again it seems like the boating industry is always behind the home and auto industries, which, granted have had much more volume and time to have had experience and success and failures to learn and tweak from. But condo situations and auto leases work quite well, and, depending on the economy and industry supply and demand, don’t so much take from the new unit sales as add to them as an added segment. A lot of people own multiple cars or homes and supplement income with additional home ‘rentals’ or lease work vehicles. A lot of people (most) can’t afford say a Escalade new, but could lease or rent one and buy one pre-owned.
    I agree, not everyone can pilot a sailboat or yacht, or should. Same could be said for backhoes and Lamborginis. But if you could, why not have an avenue in to the marketplace…

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  6. nxtboat on December 23rd, 2013 12:41 pm

    Boat rentals are very tricky especially when an individual is doing it. All these new companies say that they will insure you but that just seems a bit off. Renting boats to inexperienced people is a huge liability. I have see 3 boat accidents on the lake I live on and heard of countless others in our city. Best leave it up to the professional who have more control over who rents their boat, the insurance for the company as apposed to thousands of individuals, etc…. If you have a rental / charter company or are selling a boat another FREE alternative is listing on NXTboat.co

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