The Seattle company, recently moved from San Francisco, is trying to develop marketplace for boat renters and rentals. Its database contains 12,000 boats — from sailboats to megayachts — that can be rented.
What: Boatbound, a boat-rental marketplace
Who: Aaron Hall, co-founder and CEO
Mom-and-pop shops: Hall has boated with his family since he was a kid growing up in Central California. When the family traveled, they would rent boats. In 2012, they tried to rent a boat at a Texas lake but found that most people who rent boats don’t have websites or reliable ways to find them.
An idea is born: Hall figured there needed to be a place where people who wanted to rent a boat could find one. Such a place could also help boat owners who wanted to rent out their boat.
Airbnb for boats: Boatbound works a lot like Airbnb. Customers search Boatbound’s database of more than 12,000 boats — from sailboats to megayachts — to find the right rental. The boats come with or without captains.
Sailing to Seattle: Boatbound moved its offices from San Francisco to Seattle in December. The company is growing, Hall said, and needs to hire engineers and other staff. Seattle’s lower cost of living makes it less expensive to hire here, and the talent pool and boating scene, he said, are just as strong.
Quote: “Coming from San Francisco, all the things that we were used to from a tech perspective — networking, culture, mindset — it all feels like home,” Hall said. “But it feels better to us.”
Boating liability: Boatbound underwrites every boat rented through the service. The boats have to meet certain standards, and some require the Boatbound team to perform an in-person inspection. Boatbound works with Geico Marine to insure the boats and get liability for the renter, similar to renting a car.
Working on the water: Boatbound has seen many owners get licensed to serve as captains of their own boats, Hall said. “It’s a great source of income for owners,” he said.
Sunny year-round: Boatbound’s biggest market is South Florida, where the sun shines most of the year and boats are plentiful. Seattle is the second-largest market.
Support from boaters: The Boatbound team consists of nine employees working at the WeWork co-working space in South Lake Union. It has raised more than $4.5 million from investors, including Expansion Venture Capital, Accomplice, OurCrowd and Brunswick, which has a large boating division. It has had more than 25 million booking requests from renters since the company’s start in 2013.
— Rachel Lerman