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Don’t rock the boat: Queensland startup to help boat owners find a place to dock

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 | By Broede Carmody

An Australian startup is looking to connect boat owners with people who have a place to dock them.


Ejetty, based in Queensland, is an online marketplace launching next month for Australians who own a berth and are willing to rent it out to anyone who has a boat.


Founder Chris O’Halloran told StartupSmart the idea for the business came to him while he was walking along a stretch of water on the Sunshine Coast.


“I started thinking, why are there so many empty pontoons out the back of people’s houses? Surely they’d want to rent them out and make some money,” he said.


“So I did some research and it turns out there’s 10,000 boats in Queensland alone that don’t have a berth. I launched a quick landing page to attract conversion and got flooded with boat owners looking for a solution to berth their boats.”


The online platform is currently in private beta, however, it has processed around $6000 in transactions.


The website will go live next month, with the average boat owner paying $150 a week to rent a person’s berth. Both long-term renting and short-term stays are welcome.


“The berth owners select how much they want to charge, the facilities they want to have – if there’s a bridge or deep-water access – and we market that to our list and also to boat owners who come by looking for the solution,” O’Halloran said.


“The only way people do it currently is through ads on Gumtree or word of mouth and there’s no one-stop marketplace that connects the two together.”


O’Halloran says the startup is based out of Queensland, which is perfect because “there’s a good community” of boat owners and people who love to go fishing.


“We will take the marketing to the Gold Coast over the next few months and then move into Sydney, Melbourne and then New Zealand,” he said.


“Then we’ll look in the US … places like Florida, with strong boating communities.”


Like any early-stage startup, however, Ejetty didn’t come into the world without having to overcome a number of unique challenges – particularly when it comes to building a two-sided marketplace, according to O’Halloran.


“Getting the berths onboard is challenging,” he said.


“Berth owners aren’t actively searching for marketplace to rent their birth so we do have interesting campaigns under way … but we will be trying some non-traditional guerrilla campaigns to get the berth owners onboard.”


Another hurdle is one any short-term rental marketplace has to navigate: regulation.


“But that didn’t stop Airbnb or other marketplaces,” O’Halloran said.


“So while there are barriers there we can certainly overcome those and feedback from our customers to date has been very positive.”


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