Jaclyn Baumgarten has many childhood memories of boating with her family, but as an adult she found it difficult to recreate those experiences.
“I always wanted the opportunity to get out on the water,” Baumgarten said. “But I didn’t have the resources to do it myself.” While she could afford a disposable income, thanks to her career in commercial real estate, Baumgarten said she always felt boating was out of her financial reach.
In 2012 Baumgarten sold his condo to get seed capital for his business plan which is now boat builder. The online marketplace is designed as a network hub for boat owners, charterers and captains with an inventory of over 50,000 boats in 700 locations across the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean .
Along with accessing finance, Baumgarten began to learn all she could about commercial marine and recreational marine insurance and underwriter presentation policies. “The biggest hurdle that boats faced, and that needed to be addressed, was that there was simply no insurance infrastructure in place for peer-to-peer boat rentals,” Baumgarten explained. “So I set about building it.”
Baumgarten worked with GEICO and BoatUS to develop what it called the first-ever peer-to-peer marine insurance policy in the United States. “Once we cleared that hurdle, I knew and saw that my yacht charter dream was actually within reach,” she added.
With the official launch of Boatsetter in 2014, Baumgarten highlighted how it recognized how limited boating accessibility was for the general public at the time. Although she discovered that small yacht clubs and locally owned boat rental fleets already existed, there was no single platform to access them.
“There’s a need for something similar for boat owners,” Baumgarten said. “It was a really exciting proposition, but certainly had many hurdles along the way.”
Another aspect of Boatsetter, according to Baumgarten, is that customers don’t need any previous boating or boating experience to rent a boat; the company has access to a wide selection of US Coast Guard licensed captains who can fly a sail.
The average citizen can also access their booking platform. Through their app or through their website, users can log into Boatsetter and search through categories titled Experiences, Places, Lakes, and Boat Charters. Based on availability, users can select and request to schedule a boat.
When making a reservation, “you will be put in touch with the owner,” Baumgarten said. Users will then receive an email confirming the date and time of their trip and where to meet the boat. Additional details in the email may include whether food or drink will be provided on board or what types of footwear passengers should wear.
The timing of planning a boat rental can depend on the activity; the website may list boats that are readily available. If you may wish to arrange a one week charter in the Caribbean or Mexico, your booking will require a little longer.
At the start of Boatsetter, Baumgarten said she literally walked along the boat docks with a cooler and approached boat owners to market her business. Now she connects with boat owners in other ways. One of them is through Discover boatinga promotional campaign by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
“We are also partnering with major marina owner operators and will share communications through marinas that owners are licensed and able to do this activity,” Baumgarten added. Interested boat owners can also apply via their website.
Inclusiveness at Boatsetter is also important. As a female-led tech company, Baumgarten noted that Boatsetter has employees who currently speak 12 different languages.
On the customer side, Baumgarten shared that in 2021, results indicate that 46% of their tenants were women. Additionally, over 75% of their users are under the age of 45, with the fastest growing segment being Gen Z, of which over 51% are women.
“So we’re absolutely creating the gateway to the boating industry and opening it up to a more diverse user experience,” Baumgarten said.