According to popular imagination, holidays are synonymous with luxury when we talk about boats. and this kind of vacation can only be accessed by people with huge bank accounts. However, the reality is so different. In 2015, the world of yacht and sail was worth about 35 billion dollars and is expected to reach 51 billion in 2020. A large part of this increment is due to interest shown by people who have never been on a boat and who are discovering, little by little, the world of the sea is accessible to everyone. There are in fact several experiences to choose from such as: ranging from renting a boat for sports, from hiking to mega luxury on board a yacht. Shortly, there are options for all tastes and also all budgets. Giovanni Alessi Anghini, founder of NowBoat, knows this well – the startup based in Hong Kong which is stimulating and simple for doing business. NowBoat was born with the intention of providing its customers unique experiences with competitive prices and with respect to the environment in the same time. The commitment to the protection of the oceans has attracted the attention of Ocean Elders, a group that brings together world leaders including one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, Richard Branson, with the intent to protect the world of the sea.
Business and Leaders interviewed Giovanni Alessi Anghini, to find out how new business models can be created both environmentally friendly and profitable.
Giovanni, How was NowBoat born?
After working for years as a product designer, I tried to build an alternative. I was in Fiji with my cousin, on a catamaran, looking for places to go kitesurfing. I did some search on Internet hoping to find someone who would combine the activities that can be on the water such as sailing, snorkelling, windsurfing and hiking but I could not find anything- if not aggregators of offers for renting boats: nothing. In short, it was linked to the world of experiences. I found a gap and decided to get to working on creating something useful for fans. Subsequently, I was observing the market then I realized that the platforms add a percentage to the commission on the booking which increases the cost significantly that the customer must bear. The commissions vary between %10 and 25%, high numbers being talked about.
How long did it take for NowBoat to consolidate?
We launched the prototype in 2015, while in May 2016 version 2.0 came into play, which we made more solid management tools available to operators. The software part then evolved, arriving in July 2017 to consolidate a different model. We are doing our best to improve our offers: for now I can say that if a customer wants to rent a boat and to do a search, the price on NowBoat is lower because there is no commission. 807 operators have chosen our platform to offer their services. Last year there were only 170: in just 12 months we witnessed an exponential growth.
Growth due, in part, also your attention to environmental issues. NowBoat donates exactly 3.5% of its profit to organizations that deal with the protection of oceans and biodiversity. In this way, we make our contribution to the environmental cause, where without a protected sea the industry would not be able to flourish and prosper. It is absolutely necessary to create virtuous business models from this point of view, we need to do business in a sustainable way.
On which areas of the world NowBoat is concentrated?
We offer around 2,000 adventures starting from USD 50 per person in over 200 destinations! So our market is global. Surely, we are focusing a lot on Asia Pacific which is a relatively neglected market in the sector.
What is your target audience?
The activities are most diverse. Therefore, we refer to a vast and varied public. The basic idea is to make everything available to the user in the yacht and sail sector. There are many variables and our offer is equally varied. For instance, it is possible to rent a boat with or without skipper, to choose a sport activity as hiking. These are services that generally people do not even know that they can choose a cabin and share a boat with other people.
Can we speak about a kind of seaside education?
Absolutely! Many of our customers are new to the idea of boat vacations and boat rentals. The boat trip has always been perceived as extremely luxurious, but in fact it is not anymore. On NowBoat, customers can go for packages suitable for every needs whether families or a group of friends or a couple who wants to devote some time. The platform offers the best solutions at the lowest prices.
Written by Gönül Gülce Işık
(Here you can find the italian version)