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How Yachting Ventures Can Help Crew Launch their Startup

18 November 2021By Laura Shaughnessy
YV Meet Up
YV Meet Up: Joseph Adir (founder of Winterhaven Technologies), Rossella Del Gaudio (founder of Yachting and Co.), Gabriella Richardson, and Tim Fletcher (founder of Workrest)
Courtesy of Yachting Ventures

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd. Email Laura at laura@dockwalk.com.

On November 15, Yachting Ventures launched applications for their third cohort, which is going “bigger and better than ever before,” says founder Gabriella Richardson. Her company, Yachting Ventures came onto the scene in 2020. They’ll be accepting 15-20 startups; applications close on November 26, and once cohorts are chosen, they’ll build the program around who is participating in the six-week program. The cohort takes place from January 17 to February 28, 2022. 

What You'll Get Out of the Program

“Yachting Ventures (YV) is the worlds’ first startup accelerator for the leisure marine, yachting, and superyachting industries,” says Richardson. In the short time they’ve been around, they’ve already worked with 50-plus startups from over 20 countries thanks in part to the completely remote, pre-recorded sessions that allow participants to go at their own pace. The fixed-term program includes mentorships, connections, and educational content, which comes in the form of an immersive experience with the objective of accelerating the growth of early-stage ventures by compressing years’ worth of learning in less than two months. “We recommend setting aside five to six hours per week to fully engage with the program and get the most out of it,” she says.

Each of the six weeks represents a different stage in the startup process, from initial idea validation through to growth strategies and attracting investment.

  • Week 1: Validation
  • Week 2: MVP & Business Model
  • Week 3: Branding & Marketing
  • Week 4: Sales & Scaling
  • Week 5: Financials & Legal
  • Week 6: Funding Options & Getting Investment Ready

There’s a £995 flat fee for the six weeks of full support. In addition to everything else, this includes an average of three YV live sessions per week, weekly educational content, useful templates, and video resources, as well as regular check-ins with the Yachting Ventures team, and brand exposure through their network, partnerships, and social platforms.

Why Crew Are Built for Entrepreneurism

Gabriella Richardson, founder of Yachting Ventures

Take the founder for example: Richardson is a former stewardess for yachts ranging from 25 to 35 meters. She also worked as a charter broker for Camper & Nicholsons before joining SeedLegals, a high-growth tech startup in London that recently closed a $4 million Series A Round with Facebook-backer Index Ventures. At SeedLegals, she worked directly with founders, startup accelerators, and investors to help automate the fundraising process. YV is a culmination of those two experiences of working in the yachting space initially, followed by an immersion in the startup ecosystem.

She says there’s nothing similar to YV on the market. “There are plenty of startup accelerator programs, but none that are tailored to the leisure marine, yachting, and superyachting industries. Some of the most famous startup accelerators include Y-Combinator, Techstars, and 500 Startups. Examples of successful startups that have graduated from such accelerators include Airbnb, Dropbox, DoorDash, Coinbase, and Stripe,” she points out.

“There are plenty of startup accelerator programs, but none that are tailored to the leisure marine, yachting, and superyachting industries.” 

YV is an industry-specific organization, which is really important because it means they can educate their startups on everything you need to know when setting up a business. Plus, they can make connections with relevant and meaningful mentors and experts who can help would-be entrepreneurs take their ideas and businesses to the next level. “Over the course of the accelerator, we cover everything from initial idea validation and finding product-market fit, through to branding, growth, scaling, and raising investment,” Richardson says. “Crew are really great people to start business in the yachting space because they have a unique insight into the pain points that exist in the industry and how things could be done better than they are currently being done.”

Crew are a major target market for Yachting Ventures. “I believe they have the initiative, resources, and risk-averse personality to transition into entrepreneurship post-working on board,” Richardson says. “Around 50 percent of those who participated in previous YV cohorts (and many of our mentors too) are ex-yachties, so we can really vouch for the work ethic we've witnessed since launching Yachting Ventures in early 2020.”

As for crew who have successfully launched their own businesses, YV has a lot to be proud of, whether its with current crew or former crew who built up their entrepreneurial vision. Among the many examples are:

  • C-Quest Yachts — A captain aboard a motor yacht based in Monaco founded this company to help remove the unknowns that can cause expensive-build errors. As an experienced superyacht captain, he has world cruising experience combined with practical knowledge of running superyachts, which is why they’re confident that they can deliver perfection when building dream expedition yachts.
  • Plan M8 — Founded by a chief engineer on a 40-meter motor yacht, this company provides easy planned maintenance for yachts. It improves reliability, saves time, and creates transparency and was designed for marine engineers, captains, and owner/operators.
  • HULA Wellness — A chief stewardess and chief officer aboard a 60-meter motor yacht created this company to help maximize your body’s natural potential. Their products help cultivate making lasting lifestyle and wellness improvements.
  • Virtual Pursers — Two former superyacht purses founded their company as an outsourced solution for purser support.
  • Workrest — The former deckhand worked on various motor yachts before building Workrest, which offers tools to help simplify crew management while providing a collaborative and efficient environment that helps surface issues like crew fatigue and rotation clashes.

“For those still working on board, participation in the YV accelerator gives you the chance to develop your idea, validate the concept, and understand the steps needed to develop into a fully operating business,” says Richardson. “This removes the risk of leaving your position on board to go full-time on your business idea, before you’ve had a chance to really test it.

YV Mentors and Ambassadors

As with their graduates, many of their mentors are current or former crew, including:

  • Charlie Birkett, who co-founded Y.CO (The Yacht Company) in 2004. The company is recognized as one of the leading full-service yacht companies around, and it supports more than 100 large yacht operations globally.
  • Hadleigh Ford, the founder and CEO of SwipedOn, a visitor management solution with over 6,000 subscribers worldwide, including dozens of superyachts. Ford spent seven years aboard superyachts.
  • Edward Thomas, the founder of Gym Marine, the superyacht industry’s first specialist gym designer. The former crewmember spent six years on board before founding his company in 2014.

They also have a growing network of YV Ambassadors to give insight and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to run their ideas by experts to see if there is a viable place in the market for them. YV Ambassadors are experts in their respective niches within the broader yachting industry. “They are not necessarily business experts or entrepreneurs, but they have a unique insight into a certain segment of the market and are available to have ad-hoc conversations with the entrepreneurs on our program, as they try and find product/market fit,” Richardson explains.

“Giving the entrepreneurs the opportunity to engage and have productive conversations with our YV Ambassadors should help speed up the validation process and ultimately make sure that money, time, and resources are only poured into a product or service that people will actually pay for.”

Follow them on Instagram @YachtingVentures.

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