Boatwyze is Canada’s first insured boater-to-boater boat rental marketplace that allows owners to list their boat and rent it to qualified renters. This concept helps boat owners offset their steep costs ($4K per year on average!) and allows them to share the joy of boating with the 9.4 million people who go boating in Canada each year, many of whom can’t afford to own.
Boatwyze is raising funds through FrontFundr to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible—with a proven concept in Vancouver and a nation full of boat lovers and unused boats, they are ready to take their business to the next level. We had a chat with Co-Founder Sean Eikerman to speak about the business, raising funds as a startup, and why Boatwyze is excited to work with FrontFundr to reach their next milestone.
FrontFundr: Your business is a marketplace, which likely presents both opportunities and challenges when compared to a product. What would you say those are?
Sean Eikerman: The positive is that a marketplace can take on a life of its own and can be handsomely rewarding to its users. For example, one of our boat owners made enough money to recoup half the value of his boat in just 36 days over the summertime. That renter is now a Boatwyze brand champion and has converted several of his friends to rent their boats through us. Another positive is the sharing satisfaction owners receive by providing their boats to renters who use them on their family vacations— this helps create brand champions who are excited to spread the concept.
From a challenge perspective, there’s a need for demand traction, where you’re trying to find people who want to rent boats, and there’s also the supply side where you’re ensuring there are enough boats listed by owners. It’s a constant balancing act, but it’s one we’ve done a great job navigating so far.
FF: What is your primary goal in raising funds through FrontFundr?
SE: We have a proven concept here in Vancouver, and we’re in a marketplace that is extremely greenfield. There are so many boats here in Canada that sit unused and so we want to get going as quickly as possible, and that’s the reason we’re raising money—to throw gasoline on the fire.
FrontFundr is a great place to funnel conversations that we’re having on the periphery so that we have one common place that houses our documentation and allows people to hear and reference our story. FrontFundr is also a marketing megaphone to broadcast our brand to the investment community—it allows us to amplify our message and reach new investors we might not otherwise be able to.
FF: So you’re looking to tap into regular investors who can also serve as brand champions?
SE: Exactly. A lot of boat owners who list their boats with us who have disposable income. So FrontFundr is going to funnel those folks who want to invest a little bit of money in a concept that is providing very direct and immediate value to them.
FF: Have you raised funds prior to your FrontFundr campaign?
SE: So far, we’ve done a friends and family round. We closed about $60,000 from people who have been ambassadors right from the start, from friends and family and boat owners who were passionate about our concept.
FF: Have you pitched any accredited investors yet?
SE: We’ve had several pitches to VCs and angels— we’re in discussions with several accredited investors and angels right now. We also recently did a roadshow in Western Canada where we pitched to an angel forum.
We’re learning a tremendous amount as we go. We’re learning that investors are different and each has their own decision-making style. We’re navigating not only the how-to aspects of pitching, but we’re also navigating the personalities of different investors.
FF: What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs, or what would you do differently if you were starting over?
SE: I would have started to develop relationships within the investor community a lot earlier. Don’t feel like you need to have a polished product before you begin speaking with investors—it can just be an idea. Have conversations to learn what these investors want and what they’re looking for or potentially what their trepidations are—don’t necessarily ask for money. As the adage goes: ask for money and you’ll get advice; ask for advice and you’ll get money. Constantly ask for advice. And when the time comes when you do need to raise money or close a round, you have an established network and a great sense of the KPIs needed to follow up with.
Whether a business is listed in Prospect Lounge for potential future investment, or is listed as a live deal in Pitch Place, FrontFundr creates these critical introductions for start-ups. We help early-stage companies build traction with investors and the public and establish key relationships, all before you even begin your raise. To get started with a listing in Prospect Lounge, contact Ross Mackay.