Sailing boat

Borrow a boat making waves in the yacht charter marketplace space

In late 2016 British entrepreneur Matt Ovenden founded www.borrowaboat.com (BAB). Short on starter cash, Ovenden decided to generate the start up cash he needed to turn his radical idea into fruition through crowdsourcing.

To date the company has raised £4.8 million in capital which it has put to use in offering a fleet of over 45,000 rental boats in 65 countries worldwide. How has the company that started out from such humble beginnings gone on to become a market leader?

What does the future hold for BorrowaBoat and their many investors? To find out the answers to those questions and many more, read on…

Analysing BorrowaBoat’s success

It’s a widely held belief that sailing holidays are for the super-rich and A-list celebrities, not for ordinary people, so why has a company that specialises in yacht hire experienced such phenomenal growth in 6 short years?

In short, it is because Matt Ovenden and BAB followed the blueprint for success laid down by AirBnb. In 2008 the San Francisco Company set out with the objective of disrupting the travel industry and making cheap holiday accommodation available to all.

What made AirBnB successful was their business model of establishing an online marketplace that connected renters with letters.  As the company’s portfolio of letters increased prices naturally dropped in a bid to remain competitive.

The result was that tens of millions of holiday seekers decided to cast off traditional travel agents and instead, find cheaper accommodation themselves on AirBnb.

Ovenden and BAB have used this principle to connect a whole host of boat letters and captains to a market they may previously have been excluded from due to their size, connections or lack of business acumen and digital expertise.

The result, much like AirBnb, is that BAB have made yacht hire affordable to normal folks for the first time in decades, exploiting a gap in the market that no one really knew existed before 2016.

(Promotional BorrowaBoat video showing the range of services that the company offers to consumers all over the globe)

Why are BAB market leaders?

Well, they were the first to try out the idea of an online marketplace for boats and that counts for an awful lot. In the 6 years since the company’s foundation they have forged a reputation as the number 1 place to go for boat hire.

In addition to that the company have been quick to follow one of the most basic and effective business tools – buying up the competition. In March of this year, BAB bought out another British boat hire company called Beds on Board.

This acquisition added 5,000 more boats to BAB’s marketplace and brought with it 30,000 users. It’s something the company has done before, buying out Dutch company Barqo a number of years ago, adding 5,000 boats to their fleet and opening up access to a customer base of 100,000 Barqo users.

In buying up these rival companies, BAB has become the biggest P2P boat hiring platform in Europe, gained a huge amount of customers and eradicated the competition.

(Beds on Board were a well-established, successful British boat hire company, which is exactly why there were bought out by BAB earlier this year)

What is making BAB so bullish?

Matt Ovenden and BAB have been so aggressive in their expansion because of the potential of the boat hire industry. Recent forecasts have predicted that the global yacht charter market could reach $25 billion by 2027 and then $30 billion by 2030.

With that bounty of money on the horizon, it makes perfect business sense to spend the coming years reinvesting profits into expansion so that BAB is in prime position to swallow up as much of that £25 billion in 2027 as possible.

There’s something else that is making BAB bullish though and that is the success that the company has already had in such a short space of time, which begs the question…

What makes BAB so popular with consumers?

As previously mentioned, most people used to think of yachts and boat hire as the domain of the rich and famous. In the past couple of decades however, the average person has seen their affluence increase leading to families and individuals having more disposable income than ever before.

In addition to this there has been a growing trend that has seen younger demographics of people deciding to spend their money on experiences, like exotic holidays, than goods like clothes and gadgets.

This has all happened at just the right time for Matt Ovenden and BAB, with the services they offer appealing perfectly to an emerging generation of young, affluent professionals. It’s a perfect storm of circumstance that saw BAB post quarterly revenue growth of 300% in the first part of 2022.

It’s also a perfect storm that Ovenden will be hoping his company can continue to navigate until 2027, when they hope to arrive at the other end as a towering industry giant in the mould of AirBnB.