Some of the biggest and most successful tech-start-ups to date were launched during the 2008 financial crisis, and it appears that the current global crisis has a silver lining in the shape of Yachting Ventures – a newly launched 10-week online accelerator programme for the next generation of yachting entrepreneurs.
A start-up accelerator supports entrepreneurs through a fixed-term, cohort-based programme that includes mentorship, connections, educational content and investment. Yachting Ventures has been launched as an immersive experience, aiming to accelerate the growth of early-stage companies by compressing years’ worth of learning into just a few months.
Speaking to SuperyachtNews exclusively, Gabriella Richardson explained that she has founded Yachting Ventures to combine her experience in yachting with the positive effect she has witnessed accelerators having on a start-up’s chances of success. Richardson grew up in Mallorca, which ignited her passion for the sea and for yachting, and she then gained experience as a Yacht Charter Broker at TJB, and later Camper & Nicholsons, which confirmed her interest in the industry. “I was also sitting on the board at YPY at the time which meant I was meeting lots of people in the industry,” commented Richardson, further exposing her to various sectors and members of the superyacht sphere.
“I was quite young and I was at the beginning of my career, and I felt frustration towards the lack of openness and improving things through efficiency, automation, etcetera,” added Richardson, explaining the reasons behind her move to a VC in London. “I joined as number 11 in the team, and two years later we’re at 65 people, and we’ve recently closed a £4-million funding round with one of the biggest companies in Europe. We help companies close rounds of funding, so we work directly with founders who are looking to raise, and we help them secure investment, put paperwork in place, up until the point where they’ve closed the funding round.
"While working for a start-up and various accelerators, I decided to start my own accelerator to marry-up my experience in the yachting industry and the need for innovation there, with my experience over the past two years at SeedLegals" - Gabriella Richardson, Founder - Yachting Ventures
“While working for a start-up and various accelerators, I decided to start my own accelerator to marry-up my experience in the yachting industry and the need for innovation there, with my experience over the past two years at SeedLegals. At SeedLegals, we are currently closing two to three funding rounds a day, and there is just this massive investment industry that I don’t think is known to the superyacht industry,” emphasised Richardson.
The plan is for Yachting Ventures to bring smart people together and operate a mentor-driven approach with the opportunity to pitch for investment at the end of the programme. When looking at the furore owner-driven charter platform Ahoy Club has caused, Richardson sensed that there are key players in the yachting industry making it a difficult one to break into.
“There’s a mentality of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’, so I want to endorse that mentality of fostering entrepreneurial energy, supporting innovation and advocating for it, and helping people with start-up ideas break into this industry...”
“There’s a mentality of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’, so I want to endorse that mentality of fostering entrepreneurial energy, supporting innovation and advocating for it, and helping people with start-up ideas break into this industry.”
Current mentors who have already become part of the Yachting Ventures journey are Timothy Hamilton – Director, Luerssen Americas. “Hamilton used to have his own start-up within the property industry, so I contacted him. He was so keen and we had a really interesting chat about where he feels innovation can be brought about within the yachting industry,” added Richardson. “We also have Marcella Royer – Sales and Marketing Director for Icon Yachts and Founder of YPY Monaco, as one of our mentors, alongside many others. We have had lots of interest from yacht crew, so the right people are being so receptive and I’m shocked at how well it has been received!”
“The current crisis has also shown how easy it is to do business online – the world doesn’t stop and you don’t need to be in a physical place to do business...”
As the superyacht industry is very international, with various communication channels everywhere, it can be difficult for start-ups to find a central point or somewhere to go to as a resource, so Yachting Ventures is an online answer to this problem. “The current crisis has also shown how easy it is to do business online – the world doesn’t stop and you don’t need to be in a physical place to do business,” explained Richardson.
There is a huge potential for the many wealthy people involved in and around this industry who have an interest in certain aspects of it, to invest in solutions and innovations that can support their passion for yachting. This accelerator has been launched to provide a platform to these solutions as well as a way to ensure there is a future of yachting that is innovative, efficient and supportive of newcomers.
Each week of the 10-week course addresses a different topic. There is a dual-mentor system in place, in which a different mentor shares their knowledge each week with a cohort of participants, and further to this, a one-on-one element can be introduced. The mentor will be matched to the specific part of the industry the start-up is looking to break into, based on their experience and expertise.
“Yachting Ventures is for smart people who are ambitious, with innovative ideas, and smart people who can match that,” concluded Richardson. Applications for the September course are currently open, and Richardson is excited to have finally launched the business, hopeful that this period, in which people have had so much time on their hands, has encouraged reflective thinking and will pave the way for new ideas.
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