Yachting Ventures: The start-up accelerator program for yachting entrepreneurs

21 July 2020 By Risa Merl

It’s no secret that the yachting industry has a reputation for being overly traditional, which means it’s not always the most welcoming place for fresh ideas to thrive. A new organization, Yachting Ventures, is looking to change all this and encourage innovation in yachting by supporting burgeoning entrepreneurs.

“It can be hard to break into the industry and bring new ideas to market,” says Yachting Ventures’ founder Gabriella Richardson, who has been working with start-up accelerators over the past two years and was inspired by what they do. “In other industries, entrepreneurs are supported, but not so much in yachting.”

Yachting Ventures will host the world’s first 10-week start-up accelerator program specifically aimed at the next generation of yachting entrepreneurs. What exactly is a start-up accelerator? “It is almost too good to be true,” says Richardson. The program will take successful applicants through a 10-week course, offering training, mentorship, and support for entrepreneurs to take their businesses from concept to reality. Participants will learn how to start, scale, and succeed in a new business, and be taught how to pitch their ideas and business plans to investors. Impressively, Yachting Ventures is also sourcing potential investors, so that at the end of the program the entrepreneurs will have the chance to pitch to them directly.

Officially launched in April 2020, Richardson founded Yachting Ventures in the hopes of driving industry innovation. She started her career working for Camper & Nicholsons and was a director of Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY) UK. Richardson also studied law, and for the last few years has worked with SeedLegals — a high-growth tech startup in London that recently closed a $4 million Series-A-Round with Facebook-backer Index Ventures. In this role, she worked directly with founders, startup accelerators, and investors to help automate the fundraising process.

Richardson is adamant that entrepreneurs drive change and hopes — Yachting Ventures can ultimately change the yachting industry for the better, creating many new jobs along the way. Yachting Ventures is also adding a purely fundraising arm to the business, aimed to help existing start-ups find funding to grow their businesses.

Yachting Ventures has attracted a slew of experienced mentors who will lead elements of the program, including Tim Hamilton, director of Lürssen Americas, Steven Myers, founder and CEO of YATCO, Marcela de Kern Royer, business developer for ICON Yachts, and Hadleigh Ford, who is former yacht crew and the founder of SwipedOn, a visitor management solution, which he sold for $11 million.

Applicants are encouraged to apply online by August 1, 2020. Approximately 15 spots will be open for those who have already started a business or who have strong ideas at the early stages. There is a flat fee of £200 to participate, and Yachting Ventures is also offering three free spots: one for a YPY member, for a woman, and for BIPOC/BAME individuals in order to encourage more diversity in the industry.

Richardson aims for Yachting Ventures to be a community as well, offering continued support. “We want it to be a place where people can come together and share ideas, think out of the box, and change the status quo,” says Richardson. “When you find the right people and bring them together, you can create a momentum and innovation will flow from there.”