2020 was a ‘record-breaking year for us' despite the pandemic: Boatsetter Founder, CEO

Founder and CEO of Boatsetter Jaclyn Baumgarten joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how the pandemic impacted peer-to-peer boat rentals in 2020.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Boat demand has surged during the pandemic as more and more people look to spend some time in the water. It allows you to socially distance, in some cases. So here to talk a little bit more about this is the CEO of one company that has certainly been capitalizing on this trend and has benefited over the last 12 months.

We want to bring in Jaclyn Baumgarten. She is the founder and CEO of Boatsetter. It's a peer-to-peer boat rental platform. Jaclyn, great to have you on the show here. This caught all of our attention because it's a really great idea, especially for people who are looking to get out on the water, and maybe they don't want to invest in their own boat. What kind of traffic have you seen on your platform over the past year? And I guess, explain to us exactly how this works.

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: Well, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me, Seana. Let me start by explaining what Boatsetter is about, and then I can talk to you about the traffic. So Boatsetter exists to enable incredible experiences on the water for anybody anywhere. So what we do is we can offer experiences that range from fishing to sailing to the luxury yachting. And it's all very simple. At the click of a button on your phone or computer, we can get you out on the water in over 600 locations globally.

So whether you want to go for half a day, a full day, or a week-long charter, we can accommodate any request. The thing that truly sets Boatsetter apart is that we are the world's first and only legally compliant peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace. So what that means is, Boatsetters offers insurance through our exclusive partnership with Geico and Boat US that allows private owners in the US to list their boats to offset the cost of ownership, while at the same time, we can provide access to really fun and affordable rentals.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So let me ask you this because I think it's a great idea-- hold on, because I think this is a great idea. I got a pal. She is building a tartan yacht, which is no cheap thing to build. She's going to put it in Belmont Harbor in Chicago. I will ride for free on a visit after vaccines. But if she wanted to then rent that out, we're talking about, I think-- I don't know-- but, like, half a million dollar investment just for that boat, if not more. Did she have to do the Geico insurance for you guys? Or can she-- could her insurance cover her? Because I know a lot of sailors who don't know what they're doing when it comes to sailing. And I would be worried.

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: So this is at the crux of what makes Boatsetter unique. Your recreational insurance policy as a boat owner excludes coverage the minute you rent or take $1 in exchange. And what's unique about what we do is when your friend in Chicago will list her boat on Boatsetter, it gets approved by our partner and Geico. And when it rents through Boatsetter, our policy with Geico becomes primary and exclusive to protect her only during the rental. And then when she goes back to using it for her own recreational use, it's on her primary policy.

SEANA SMITH: Jaclyn, we're starting to see maybe a shift in behavior as more and more people get vaccinated. Any indication or any sign as to what kind of impact that could potentially have on your business?

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: Absolutely. You know, it's really interesting. You mentioned about the desire during the pandemic for people to look for safe ways to get out on the water. And 2020 was truly a record breaking year for us. Even despite the pandemic, we supported over 120,000 hours on the water for over 150,000 passengers. And our fastest growing segment was that peer-to-peer segment. That grew 90% in revenues year over year.

So far, this year, '21 is trending even better. I can tell you that so far, this month, for the month of March to date, we've had over 400% revenue growth in confirmed bookings for the same time last year. And we're on track to more than double the business this year. So we expect to see a lot more utilization of boats. Something that many people don't know is that most Americans live-- 95% of Americans live within a one-hour drive of navigable waters. So Boatsetter can offer them a wonderful activity near where they live on the weekends.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You have my word. I'm calling my friend in Chicago to tell her about you folks. Because she's taking the boat up, I think, in another month. But that the way you describe the way the Geico insurance works is ideal. That's really a great system you've got in place. I am curious, though because-- so my friend is a woman. She's a captain. She's a sailor. The majority of your clients are women, right?

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: So, you know, at our core, when we built Boatsetter, it was about inclusivity and providing access to these experiences for anybody anywhere. You know, historically, the boating industry has had a lot of challenges with diversity. Boat ownership historically has been men as-- you know, 58 years and above with high net worth individuals. And I am super pleased to share with you that through our customer-friendly technology, we're expanding who the average boater is. Nearly 80% of our renters are under the age of 45. Half of them are millennials. And the best part is that over 40% of our renters are women.

SEANA SMITH: So Jaclyn, when you talk about that demographic change, aside from the technology and just making it easier to rent, what else do you attribute that to?

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: We also provide captains. So you don't have to have prior experience to accessing a boat. And we can create amazing experiences. We have bachelorette parties. We have sand bar hopping. We have sunset cruises. So, you know, the activities are diverse, and the technology makes it easy, seamless, and accessible.

ADAM SHAPIRO: The best part of boating, quite honestly, is the glass of wine and then watching the boaters who want that experience trying to dock. You've covered us with insurance. You've talked about the potential growth and where you're headed with this. Is the sky the limit? I mean, do you see a peak at any point in the next year or two?

JACLYN BAUMGARTEN: No, I think we'll continue to grow. And we're only scratching the surface. This is a new concept. And awareness is something that we're just beginning to scratch the surface on. There are over 12 million registered recreational boats here in the US. They get used an average of 12 days a year. So the opportunity for owners to offset the cost of ownership and the desire for people to get out on the water and have an incredible experience is endless. And we're looking to continue to grow organically for many years to come.

SEANA SMITH: Jaclyn Baumgarten, thanks so much for joining us, founder and CEO of Boatsetter. We certainly wish you all the best.