My-Villages buys DockMaster
After several months of discussions, marine software startup My-Villages Inc., announced this morning that it has purchased Exuma Technology and its flagship DockMaster, an information management solution used by marine dealerships, marinas and boatyards.
As part of the surprising industry announcement, the Exuma name will disappear, and DockMaster and The Boat Village products will be combined in an effort to merge front- and back-end solutions into one product. The goal is to revolutionize how the marine industry connects with itself and its consumers, with a goal of transforming the industry in a similar way to how Amazon.com has changed online shopping.
Cam Collins, president and CEO of Exuma Technologies, will become president and chief operating officer at My-Villages, while My-Villages founder, Kevin Hutchinson, will remain CEO of the combined entity.
Boating Industry spoke with Collins and Hutchinson in a joint interview the day before the announcement. Below is an excerpt of the interview, as well as the full press release and FAQ released by the new company.
For our previous story on My-Villages, click here.
Boating Industry: How did this sale come about?
Kevin Hutchinson: This is something that Cam and I talked for the last many months about integrating our two solutions. We had joint customers involved in that [who] wanted to see our forward-thinking solutions with the consumers and the ability to have consumers and boat owners coordinate service with service yards. … The more we started talking about the level of integration between back-end systems, where DockMaster kind of dominates within the marine industry, and the innovative solutions that we’re just now bringing into the market through our innovation partners and now through a public launch, as we talked more and more about it we … shared a common vision as it relates to the needs of the sharing of that information for transacting business 24/7. We see that in a lot of other industries where you can transact business from a front-end to a back-end relationship. Cam and I’d vision is very complimentary to one another, very focused on the use of mobile technology and very focused on what information needs to be shared and how the marine industry can engage with its customers in a different way.
BI: How does this mesh with your previous long-term plans for the company?
Cam Collins: This is really kind of a meeting in the middle whereby Kevin and I could actually envision a place where we could actually fill a void across the entire supply chain from the front end to the back end.
BI: Where/when was this idea first discussed?
KH: It’s kind of funny. We have a common individual involved. Jim Bronstien is an advisor to us in the marine industry, he’s a good friend and he’s an advisor to Cam as well, and he kind of brought the integration needs between our two companies, and then our customer base brought [up] the integration needs between the two companies … The more time Cam and I spent together in those conversations, him more or less mentoring me on the marine industry and how it works, it just seemed like we had this symbiotic view and relationship and we just kept it going until one day we said you know it seems to make sense that we do this together.
BI: Was making a major acquisition like this always part of your plan for My-Villages?
KH: Definitely. I’ve done several of these companies where key strategic acquisitions are accelerants in the ability to fulfill that vision, that mission that we knew we were tackling for the marine industry. I didn’t know because these opportunities don’t just come by every day, so you never know if one of them is going to be available or not. Obviously having Cam be interested in something like this was very, very important, and you just kind of feel your way through them. I was never going to build a back-end solution, especially when there’s a dominant player like DockMaster in that marketplace, but I always knew that we could accelerate the vision if we had those worlds together.
BI: Why was DockMaster the right choice for your future plans?
KH: DockMaster is a dominant player in the industry for the solutions that they provide into the marine industry, and not just for service yards but marinas and dealerships and a lot of the different organizations that we wanted to reach into. What really sold it for me was talking to a lot of the DockMaster customers and their level of satisfaction with the products, with the team, their relationship with Cam, the shared vision they had with Cam on some of the things he’s going to do with the mobile products as an extension into DockMaster, that really sold it for me.
BI: Cam, how does this dovetail with your preexisting long-range plans for the company? Does this require a totally new plan?
CC: No, this is not really a new plan. What this really does is it helps us accelerate and grow the business in ways that I don’t believe that we could’ve done organically on our own. … I kept getting phone calls from my customers, primarily our service yard clients saying we just talked to the My-Villages guys and it looks like they have a really interesting product out there, what do you guys think of them? … I believe our industry is really ripe for this right now to kind of take things to the next level instead of just continuing to improve at a small incremental way.
BI: How are things going to change for users of either The Boat Village of DockMaster?
CC: The first thing to note that the DockMaster product itself will continue to be expanded, continue to be advanced, we’re in the process of pushing our new 8.0 DockMaster technology out, we’re shooting for an early 2014 beta release of that. The great thing about Kevin and his team is they bring additional resources and processes in to us that we didn’t have before to really help improve our quality control components of our business. We’re really focused on continuing to improve and sell the DockMaster product, because at the end of the day that’s still the foundation back office management system of the solution.
BI: Is the DockMaster name staying?
KH: The DockMaster brand will continue to be the brand for those solutions. The My-Villages product is called The Boat Village, and we have a consumer side to that and we have a professional side to that. We’re going to look at what kind of branding extensions we can make to DockMaster on a professional side so we make it very clear to customers, the separation between the consumer services and the professional services of the application. We’re still working through some of those branding things, but the DockMaster brand will definitely be a flagship for us from a product standpoint equal to The Boat Village product.
BI: How do you see this combination playing out in the near future?
KH: You’ve got to imagine a world … where a customer sends a service request electronically, a service manager reviews that service request, asking questions for clarification electronically, and then can hit a button and turn it into a work order in the DockMaster system. No phone calls or emails or verbal conversations that have to turn into handwritten notes and have to get interpreted. It’s going to improve the efficiency of communication, the efficiency of the operation, but the clarity of what the client, the boat owner is going to do, the clarity of the service manager working with the back-end solutions with respect to how work orders and billing and service history, which is where a lot of data for that boat is, and Cam brings this up to me all the time, is locked up in DockMaster. Let’s unlock that for customers that want to share that information.
BI: Cam, how are you selling this to your team?
CC: The thing that I’m most excited about is that this helps to jump-start the whole initiative that I started into the mobile world. I saw mobile as being the ideal device to really help dealers and boatyards and marinas just get that much more efficient. If you think about, half the people if not more than half of the staff members, call it three-quarters of the staff members of any marine business, they’re on the go, they’re in boats, they’re in front of customers selling boats, renting boats out, renting out slips, whatever it may be. Being in front of the computer and being tethered to a monitor is … a drag on their efficiency. So we really wanted to bring mobile devices and the promise of mobile into the marine industry, and this just helps accelerate this in terms of my own personal vision tenfold, because that’s exactly where Kevin’s company, and now our company, is focused.
BI: Kevin, you’ve previously mentioned a desire to branch out into other industries. Is that still on your agenda?
KH: Our focus is the marine industry without question. That’s where the DockMaster product is such a huge success and where The Boat Village … is so focused on providing that level of extension of DockMaster into the consumer world. … Cam and his team have actually developed is a product for the RV industry called RVMaster, just like DockMaster. … Obviously we would have to make changes to our front-end facing solution … to be able to make it something that would work for the RV industry, but it’s nice that Cam had that same vision on other industries and in fact he’s already gone beyond vision, he’s executed on having a product available and ready for the RV world. As Cam and I went through these discussions, we were very clearly focused on the marine industry and that is going to be our zero target to be successful in that industry, and we’ll continue to monitor other opportunities in the RV industry as well as in other industries, but right now our sole focus is on the marine industry.
BI: What’s the plan to grow your company from here?
KH: We’ll drive a continued focus into the DockMaster install base that there are 600 locations not only throughout the U.S. but in other countries as well that are using DockMaster products. Obviously through this transaction and the really great relationships that the DockMaster team has with those 600 locations, that’s a huge boon to us to be able to drive in The Boat Village product into those locations.
BI: Same question to you, Cam…
CC: We are going to stay focused on the DockMaster product as well as the mobile build-out that I was telling you about. And the mobile side on ours, the components that we’ve been focused on would mostly be centered on things like our new time clock app that we’ll be bringing out that will allow service techs to actually clock on and off the job and to scan parts onto a job from a smartphone either an Android or an iPhone. The apps that we’re going to be bringing out are going to enhance the use of DockMaster within either a dealership or a boatyard or a marina and as Kevin said we’re also continuing to focus on this new version of DockMaster called 8.0, which brings to the market a new user interface and UI (user interface) improvements, but it’s also going to be enhancing the cloud offering that we brought to market at the beginning of the year that we’ve soft launched and slowly brought customers on, because we didn’t want to put too much pressure on our staff converting customers over to the cloud. It’s just about ready for full-time deployment.
BI: It’s surprising to see a new startup like My-Villages acquiring DockMaster, such a large, established brand within the industry. What do you think about that?
KH: I hope what it shows to the industry is the real commitment that we have. … I told you a while back our level of commitment was very strong to bring innovative solutions to the marine industry, and when I enter into an industry, whether in my past life I’ve been in healthcare industries, retail industries and other different industries, but we come in and we commit and we stay dedicated to that industry. We do what it takes to be successful in that industry, and I think this is a major step forward for the combined organization.