This boat rental founder is making this activity more publicly available

Jaclyn Baumgarten has many fond childhood memories of boating with her family, but as an adult she found those experiences difficult to replicate.

“I still wanted the ability to get out on the water,” Baumgarten said. “But I didn’t have the resources to do it alone.” Though she has the means of disposable income through her career in corporate real estate, Baumgarten said she still feels boating is out of her financial reach.

In 2012, Baumgarten sold her condo to raise seed capital for her company to found what is now Boatsetter. The online marketplace is designed to be a networking hub between boat owners, charterers and captains with an inventory of over 50,000 boats in 700 locations throughout the United States, Caribbean, Mexico and Mediterranean.

In addition to accessing funding, Baumgarten said she has begun learning all about commercial marine and recreational marine insurance and successfully introducing it to insurers. “The biggest obstacle that boats faced and had to overcome was that there was simply no insurance infrastructure for peer-to-peer boat rentals,” explained Baumgarten. “So I set out to build it.”

Baumgarten worked with insurance companies GEICO and BoatUS to create what they described as the first-ever peer-to-peer marine insurance policy in the United States. “Once we cleared that hurdle, I knew and I saw that my boat rental dream was actually within reach,” she added.

With the launch of Boatsetter in 2014, Baumgarten pointed out how she learned at the time how limited the boater demographic was. While small boat clubs and locally owned boat rental fleets already existed, there was no platform to access them before.

“Something similar is also needed for boat owners,” said Baumgarten. “It was a really exciting endeavor, but one that undoubtedly had many hurdles along the way.”

According to Baumgarten, another aspect of Boatsetter is that customers don’t need to have any sailing or boating experience to rent a boat; The company has access to a large roster of licensed US Coast Guard Captains who can pilot a sailboat.

Through their app or through their website, users can log into Boatsetter and search under subcategory tabs labeled Experiences, Places, Lakes, and Boat Charters. Based on availability, users select and book a boat to schedule.

When you make a booking, “you are put in contact with the owner,” says Baumgarten. Users will then receive an email confirming their trip and the location to meet the boat. Additional details in the email may include whether beverages will be provided on board or information about what types of shoes passengers are required to wear.

The timing of a booking depends on the activity; The website may list boats that are immediately bookable. However, if you are interested in planning a week-long charter in the Caribbean or Mexico, this will require a little more lead time.

In the early stages of Boatsetter, Baumgarten said she literally went to boat docks with a cooler and reached out to boat owners to market the company. Today, she develops new business relationships with owners through Discover Boating, a promotional campaign of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

“We also work with the operators of large marinas and share communication through the marinas that the owners are allowed and able to carry out this activity,” added Baumgarten. Interested boat owners can also apply through their website.

Inclusivity is also important at Boatsetter. As a technology company run by women, Boatsetter has employees who speak 12 different languages. On the client side, Baumgarten shared that the 2021 results show that 46 percent of her tenants were women. Also, over 75 percent of their users are under the age of 45, with the fastest segment being Gen Z, of which over 51 percent are women.

“By doing so, we are absolutely creating the gateway to the boating industry and opening ourselves up to a more diverse user experience,” said Baumgarten.

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