Boatbound sees opportunity in peer-to-peer
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.”