Inspired by her experience on board and solving problems she faced over her seven years in yachting, former Chief Stew Ciara Farrow started working on what would become Sevenstar, the digital preference and provisioning software startup she founded in 2023. Sevenstar allows all guests’ preferences to be found in a centralized location.
“I worked on over a dozen vessels — doing everything from housekeeping to hiring and managing interior crew — and the thing that was consistent across every program was how many of our problems on board could be traced back to bad preferences,” Farrow says.
Preferences are the bible for the chefs and stews, Farrow explains. “Good preferences forms and profiles are highly detailed with everything from guests’ allergies and medications to their favorite brands of bottled water and the recipes their grandparents used to make for the holidays.”
Most programs start off with good preferences, usually printed or photocopied sheets in a binder, but always get lost and quickly fall out of date.
“So crew end up writing notes on Post-its or typing updates into WhatsApp groups that disappear when a crewmember leaves, which in yachting happens all the time. I thought there has to be a better way.”
Farrow started to build digital versions of preference forms and profiles that could be filled out before boarding and easily accessed and updated by crew while they are on board. “It started as something I built for myself to make my life easier, but I started sharing it with friends on other yachts and realized everyone was having the same problem and I could turn it into a real product.”
The first version of Sevenstar was built using Google Docs and spreadsheets, but Farrow taught herself how to build software. Now it’s a custom cloud-based app that can be securely accessed on any device, including computer, tablet, and smartphone. Using the app, stews can send out forms to owners and guests, which feed into detailed profiles that they can easily pull up, search through, and update with notes, pictures, and recipes. Preferences can also be printed as a PDF, so those paper binders are never out of date.
Sevenstar offers a bespoke look and feel for every customer, creating custom forms with options that reflect the features of each yacht and the supplies on board. A Sevenstar subscription allows for unlimited users, but customers can control which crewmembers have access to what information, giving captains or chief stews the ability to hide or block edit access to any sensitive information. After signing up, new yachts fill out a form and select different options of what is available to guests on board, and a customized app is set up and ready to use within 24 hours. All the data is securely stored on the app but can be downloaded if you cancel your subscription, so no valuable information is ever lost.
There’s a lot of software for captains and engineers but very little for chefs and stews. “As a former chief stew, I love talking to customers,” Farrow says, “When guests leave, they always talk about how amazing the food and parties and service were — but probably don’t realize how much work goes into the experience. Chefs and stews are the heart and soul of every program, and I built Sevenstar to make their lives a little easier and let them focus on what they do best.”
Now in her second year as full-time founder, she continues to improve the software based on feedback from how people are using it and how preferences are handled on different vessels. She hopes one day Sevenstar will be a tool for all preferences whether on land, air, or sea.
Sevenstar is offering an extended 14-day trial to Dockwalk readers at sevenstar.software/dockwalk.