My Ocean Ltd looks to attract burgeoning new markets
Serial entrepreneur and millennial myth buster Jonny Dodge opens up on the key to attracting younger audiences…
Jonny Dodge, CEO of My Ocean Ltd, has made been making headlines in numerous news outlets over the past couple of years and seems to have earned himself quite a few titles with ‘disruptor’, 'adventurer', and ‘explorer’, being just a few. A quick google search of his name will show images of him enjoying breakfast with Richard Branson on Necker Island, shaking hands with King Charles III, and posing by race cars with Mark Webber and David Coulthard. With over 30,000 Instagram followers, the 40-year-old CEO has deservedly earned his ‘influencer’ title, and he’s known in the industry for his little black book of millionaires. But who is this so-called disruptor, and how is he shaking up the superyacht industry?
Although his status and network are widely broadcasted, Jonny laughs off the labels that have been given to him by glossy business and travel magazines. “The disruptor thing is a funny one because we are really just bringing new customers to the market, we're not really here taking away existing clients. We don't really deal with the kind of typical 70-year-old guy buying a forty-metre Italian motor yacht - that's not our client. Our clients are usually a lot younger, and I believe that in the last couple of years the average age of an owner probably has decreased by about ten years. There are a lot of potential clients in their thirties and forties, and I think there's a huge difference between them and the older generation in terms of what they want and how they do business.”
My Ocean was founded just 24 months ago and is probably one of the fastest-growing businesses in the industry. Jonny’s first sale was the 38m Babylon by Rodriguez Yachts, and since then, the company has gone on to assist with a month-long charter on the 136m Flying Fox. The company communicates with its clients through social media and messaging platforms and roughly 75% of their payments are made using cryptocurrency. In short, their business model has been designed in a way that appeals to the spontaneous and casual nature of young UHNWIs, which in turn leads to stronger more intimate relationships.
The superyacht industry tends to tarnish client pools with the same brush, especially when it comes to ‘millennials’. Perhaps the most frustrating stereotype is that young people love technology, a recent survey by Deloitte revealed that both Millennials and Gen Z believe that they would be physically healthier by reducing social media consumption, most of them think it does more harm than good, and that two-fifths wish that they could stop using it completely. It would be safer to assume that young UHNWIs would rather use yachting as a means to get away from technology and experience a more nomadic, yet luxurious lifestyle.
Jonny believes that while this may be true, there is a balance. Young people do tend to enjoy those wholesome, soul-fulfilling, bucket-list-ticking experiences, but they also want to have the convenience of digital solutions if need be. Jonny explains, “It's about the intimacy of the relationship, that's what creates that environment where people feel comfortable talking about yachting and being a part of the industry. That gets lost in big glossy brochures that get sent over in emails and when clients get asked to offer a review or testimonial. People don’t want that, they want to live it and feel it”.
At first glance, you would be forgiven for assuming that Jonny Dodge’s social media presence resembles that of most male influencers - hanging out in private jets, jumping into pools in the Maldives, taking the chopper into Monaco etc... However, according to Jonny, this isn’t done to flex and flaunt, instead, it is a purely business-driven decision, he points out...
“People forget that billionaires have Instagram too.”
"I do joke about it, but they are getting to see the world through my eyes because I get to be on a different boat every day and it gives us a place where we can connect. It is the only platform, as far as I'm concerned, that is able to create that relationship because you can connect with the person offline while also having that instantaneous relationship online. It's absolutely fundamental, certainly from my point of view, it might not be for other companies, but for us, it's the way we connect with our consumers. We do have our business accounts, but I think again, as individuals, people relate to us personally a lot more. Booking a trip on a yacht through an Instagram DM is not a strange thing at all, in fact, it is pretty standard practice”.
The majority of the world's major CEOs have had to adapt their internal business practices in the post-pandemic era, and Jonny is no exception. Back when he worked in the London offices, he admits that he was the type that was always the first to come in and the last to leave, with his employees having no work-from-home options. He now operates a fluid and dynamic business, with his employees benefitting from a work-from-anywhere policy. The My Ocean approach to business is new and refreshing, but it is also in contrast to the usual old-fashioned connotations of the industry that the younger generation might not relate to.
Admittedly, the recent ‘Crypto Crash’ means that it might not necessarily be the finest hour to begin speculating further on the curious world of blockchains. The average crypto user will most likely be feeling down on their luck at the moment, especially if they came in at the top of the market, but that shouldn't distract from the fact that there is still a growing number of emerging billionaires who are using it to buy luxury products and experiences. At this stage, it is now more about holding on for the long run and using the currency to show clients that you are open to new ventures.
“People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Jonny explains, “It is not necessarily about selling what the boat is, but why you're selling this boat to them, as long as your team is clear about ‘the why’ then I think that inevitably produces passionate individuals. The process of buying or chartering a boat is a story, and that story needs to resonate with your employees and your customers all the way through, and that is really what it is all about”.
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