Airbnb of the sea: France’s Click & Boat secures $200K to expand its peer-to-peer boat rentals marketplace
A Q&A with Click & Boat co-founder Edouard Gorioux. The Paris-based startup, which is a peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace, announced the closing of a €200,000 Seed funding round last week from unnamed Angel investors. It was founded late last year by Gorioux and Jeremy Bismuth, and is currently available in Europe.
SUB: Please describe Click & Boat and your primary innovation.
Gorioux: Click & Boat is the French leader in the peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace. Our main innovation is that we offer daily insurance to reassure both the boat owner and the renters. We are the first in Europe to provide this insurance solution by the day.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Gorioux: We pretty much target everybody owning a boat, even those who are trying to sell it. We try to convince them that selling is not the solution if they can’t afford the huge expense that comes with owning a boat. Instead, we explain to them that with us, they can rent it, make some money to pay the charges, and most importantly, they can still sail when they want.
For the renters’ side, we target the sea lovers, even if they don’t know how to sail. Indeed, on Click & Boat you can rent a ‘boat-hotel,’ meaning spending the night on a boat without leaving the harbor. You can even sail with the owner through a co-navigation contract. For the others who are used to sailing, they simply fill in their nautical experience and knowledge when booking a boat.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Click & Boat from the competition?
Gorioux: Collaborative consumption is really trendy nowadays, just look at all the businesses that emerge since Airbnb was successful. Therefore, the market attracted some entrepreneurs and sail lovers who created peer-to-peer boat rental in Europe, but this competition is only made of startups. We differentiate from the competition with our insurance by-the-day. This is a real innovation, and we are the first to offer it. We also like to think we are really responsive and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. No one is really leading the overall market right now, but we surely aspire to be the one who does.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised €200,000 in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Gorioux: We believe this is the perfect time for fundraising because we had already been testing the market and the concept for about seven months, so we had tangible proof to show to our private investors that the idea was working. But this is also a particularly good time because the most important period for this kind of sector is coming. We are slowly entering the season, which will last until September. We need to be strongly present this spring and summer, and the fundraising will help us do so.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Gorioux: We will use the funds mainly for marketing, commercial and IT purposes. We intend to improve our website and to develop a mobile app. Right now, the fundraising will be sufficient to develop Click & Boat in France and internationally, but we never know what tomorrow will be made of.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Click & Boat? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Gorioux: We couldn’t stand seeing so many harbors full of boats standing still without ever moving when we know how much a boat can cost every year to its owner. On the other hand, we knew that during summer, there are never enough boats for traditional rentals.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Gorioux: We started by implementing an efficient insurance solution, but one of our first steps was also to confirm that the concept was actually answering boat owners’ needs.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Gorioux: We wanted to simplify the yachting practice, so we needed a simple and convenient name to remember.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Gorioux: Our startup is young, and nothing is easy, but we move on fast and well. For now, we haven’t faced any insurmountable obstacles, but we keep our fingers crossed that nothing will happen.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Gorioux: We generate revenue through a commission between 11-and-15 percent on every transaction. Basically, we have the same business model as Airbnb.
SUB: What are your goals for Click & Boat over the next year or so?
Gorioux: Right now, we are focusing on international development. Our objective for this summer is to become the leader in the European market. We are currently translating the website in many different languages—English, Spanish, Italian, German—and we are working on getting more boats from foreign seas. We are building a special team for this internationalization.