Yachting Ventures’ startup enterprise
Gabriella Richardson explains the story behind her daring venture…
Mid-pandemic and in between jobs, Gabriella Richardson set up Yachting Ventures (YV), a business that aimed to fill a gap in the yachting industry by providing a niche service to startups. Richardson grew up in the yachting hub of Mallorca and worked as a charter broker for Camper & Nicholsons. Having studied Law at University, Richardson chose to leave Camper & Nicholsons to join SeedLegals. Backed by Index Ventures, one of the largest VC firms in the world, SeedLegals is a LegalTech startup automating the fundraising process for founders, startup accelerators and investors.
SuperyachtNews speaks to Richardson to discover more about the story behind YV. ‘I grew up in Mallorca so that was my introduction to the yachting world. Many of my friends' parents were yachties and I’ve done a number of school projects around a crew mess table growing up. I worked onboard a 30m yacht as a stewardess myself during one of my summer breaks from University, so I’ve experienced life onboard first-hand.’ Richardson explained. The entrepreneur elaborated on the moment she decided to work at a big brokerage company upon graduating: ‘I remember picking up a Burgess magazine whilst working onboard at the age of 20, which opened my eyes to the onshore industry’.
Two years later Richardson began work at Camper & Nicholsons. Inspired by her entrepreneurial parents, Richardson decided to set up her own venture dedicated to helping start-ups in the marine industry. Richardson explains it was the combined experience of working in the yachting industry, followed by moving into the tech-scene in London and witnessing the support for entrepreneurs and startups in other industries that instructed and inspired her to set up her own venture: ‘I wanted to bring some of that energy to the leisure marine and yachting sectors, and help drive real change.’
‘We're essentially building a scalable global network of the most talented entrepreneurs, supercharging their growth by colliding them with validated corporate opportunities, revenue, customers, data, expert knowledge and investment.’ - Gabriella Richardson
Forbes picked up on the work that YV was spearheading and published a piece about the company last year. Richardson had identified a funding gap: ‘we need to have the conversation about how founders are actually supported financially to help bring new innovations to market. Early-stage startups are often supported by passionate angel investors, so I think we need to educate and support potential angel investors in this space and build a framework to help direct more startup capital into the industry’ says Richardson
Speaking about said educational opportunities Richardson elaborates: ‘whilst we used to offer a finite program with a start and end date, we found that in order to add real value, startups need support on a more consistent basis, through the entire lifecycle of launching and scaling a startup.'
'With that in mind, the YV Community is designed to act as an accelerator on an on-going basis, offering startups access to a large network of industry professionals, regular workshops, resources, founder meet-ups, discounts and editorial opportunities. The YV Community is the only purpose-build platform for founders in the leisure marine and yachting industries, and we already have +60 members signed up after launching less than 2-months ago.'
Richardson initially grew the business part-time, whilst also qualifying as a maritime lawyer in London, explaining ‘although this was a bit of a juggling act, it gave me breathing space and allowed me to organically build the business and the brand, without having to rush towards profitability.’ Richardson has been working full time on YV since August 2022.
The entrepreneur details YV’s current work alongside event organisers and corporates interested in highlighting startups. This year YV have partnered with the organizers of METSTRADE to host a startup gathering with the view to catalyzing collaboration and conversation within the global startup ecosystem: ‘we’re also supporting boot Dusseldorf with the organization of a pitching event during the show next year, as part of their Blue Innovation Dock initiative.’
When asked what plays on her mind when considering current yachting practices, Richardson citied a BlueFIN conference organised by the World Ocean Council in Barcelona. The focus of discussion was on the $3 trillion Blue Economy and various investors were present, including ocean funds, family offices, philanthropic investors, institutional finance and government funding agencies. Richardson asserted ‘it was absolutely fascinating to hear the amount of money VC funds in this space are raising and how they’re combining financial returns for their investors with real positive impact on the environment. It really is possible to do both!’
Richardson pictured with co-founder and CEO of Hullbot Tom Loefler at the BlueFIN conference organised by the World Ocean Council in Barcelona
Richardson points out the need for a pioneering spirit to generate greener practices: ‘although there are various corporate initiatives to make the yachting industry more sustainable, the development of new technologies to address the environmental impact often falls on entrepreneurs willing and able to take the personal and financial risks associated with launching a startup. The risks are particularly prevalent where there are long R&D periods required to bring a new product to market (before the business can start generating revenue).’
YV represents a much needed service for the industry encouraging economic growth and breaking from tradition in order to engage angel investors to put the resources into innovative services and designs. While Richardson admits that she was first put off by reluctance to innovate in some parts of the yachting sector, she describes a shift in attitude over the past few years: ‘the industry as a whole is definitely starting to realise the importance of supporting startups and entrepreneurs trying to bring new products and services to the market, or iterate on existing business models to raise user and customer service standards. Several yacht shows, for example, have been doing a great job of showcasing startups.’
Click here to become part of The Superyacht Group community, and join us in our mission to make this industry accessible to all, and prosperous for the long-term. We are offering access to the superyacht industry’s most comprehensive and longstanding archive of business-critical information, as well as a comprehensive, real-time superyacht fleet database, for just £10 per month, because we are One Industry with One Mission. Sign up here.
Reference checking is perhaps one of the most important parts of the hiring process across all aspects of recruitment
Lidija Jakovljevic, Marketing Manager at YPI CREW, speaks about the launch
A Facebook group titled ‘Yachties: Name, Shame and Fame’ is being used as a platform for victims of abuse
Melanie White reveals her motivation for releasing a book about her experience on board superyachts