Our new startup focus aims to turn the spotlight on ambitious new companies and ideas, starting with this Lake Balaton venture.
With sailing gaining momentum nationwide, it was only a matter of time before a startup was ready to tap into the opportunity to ride the waves of growth of this trend.
The online platform of Boatly connects private and corporate boat owners with those who would like to rent a sail or motor boat, with or without a captain, during their stay at Lake Balaton.
“Boatly is an amazing opportunity for owners to make money during periods when they don’t use their boats, through which maintenance costs can be cut,” founder Márton Deák tells the Budapest Business Journal.
“And for users it doesn’t get more comfortable than this, since they can select and book their dream boat with just a few mouse clicks.”
The venture was launched with a selection of just six boats, but it became clear fast that demand would explode once word got out about the new service.
“We quickly faced capacity problems, as demand outpaced our speed to register boats in our system,” Deák explains. “Therefore, our main task now is to boost their number further.”
Hiking the number of available boats is made difficult by administrative and expense-related hurdles. Still, for now some 50 units can be chosen from, with more in the pipeline.
As the founder explains, demand varies very much, so Boatly is in the comfortable position of being able to target different niches. Bigger groups of people seek larger units of more than 35 feet (10.6 meters), but mid-sized ones of up to 25 feet (7.6 meters) are also popular. Families would be best off with renting 18-feet (5.5 meter) powered boats, Deák says.
Interestingly, Boatly is no competitor to charter companies. In fact, it provides an extra sales platform for them, with charter companies now registering their boats to benefit early from the evolving market traction.
“The market potential is vast. Compared to its size, Balaton has way too few boats, counting around 3,000,” Deák estimates. “Even Lake Fertő, on the Austrian border, has more than that.”
Considering the fact that ever more people seem to be getting into sailing, this provides ample room for boosting revenues. As far as further expansion is concerned, building a Europe-wide presence could be a realistic plan. A similar service exists only in France on the continent, so if the scheme proves viable, there is no reason to keep within the borders of landlocked Hungary.
“The word is spreading about Boatly, which was apparent at the latest boat show at Balaton,” Deák says. “Winter is expected to be rather quiet, but interest should pick up as early as April, since that is when many people start making arrangements to make their summer sailing dreams come true. We expect there will be more and more of them and that they will remember where to look for the right boat to get the most out of their money.”
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