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Boat sharing service looking to float to the top at Balaton

Hungarian startup Boatly has launched an online platform where boat rental at Lake Balaton becomes easy as 1-2-3. This could well be only a start, though.

With the sharing economy gaining ground in a growing number of industries, the list has now expanded to include Balaton boat rentals.

The online platform of Hungarian startup Boatly connects private and corporate owners with those who would like to rent a sail or electric boat, with or without a captain, during their stay at the “Hungarian Sea”.

“A startup contest gave us the idea where service providers were invited to offer solutions tapping into opportunities in the realm of the sharing economy,” founder Márton Deák says. “Since I love sailing, it was pretty obvious that we would try to do something in this direction.”

The market niche is a given in Hungary as there is no similar service today. In the United States and France there are some startups specializing in the area, but the market potential is vast on the global scale. That’s what Boatly is banking on.

For now, selection is restricted to the seven boats on Boatly’s website, but the number is continuously growing. The initial plan is to hike it up to 50.

“Boatly is an amazing opportunity for owners to make money during periods when they don’t use their boats, by which maintenance costs can be cut,” Deák says. “And for users it doesn’t get more comfortable than that since they can select and book their dream boat with just a few mouse clicks.” Capital stems partly from Hungarian venture capital fund, Core Venture.

“This year we would like to assess the viability of our idea at Balaton, since it is beyond any doubt that sailing especially is gaining in popularity, so many people would like to rent a boat on an ad-hoc basis,” the founder adds.

“Next year we are planning to extend our service to other European lakes as well; however, due to market maturity and the bigger risks related to services, expansion to sea-going boat rentals is off the table.”

Boatly’s long-term ambition is to become a dominant player of the European boat rental market.