We sat down with Gerben Visser, founder of Aquator Marine, to talk about the journey to date and plans for the future of the business.
How did you come up with the idea for the business?
From a young age, I enjoyed being out on the water, growing up my interest in boats evolved and I started to sail competitively. I was part of several sailing teams and experienced first-hand the challenges of operating a yacht, managing the crew, and the organizational requirements needed to run it efficiently and effectively.
Concurrently, I started my professional career in finance, moved to financial technology start-ups, and gained experience in building companies and developing technology platforms. I realized that a number of the problem statements and challenges present in managing a yacht could be addressed by applying similar types of management applications built in the financial industry.
Subsequently, we conducted a feasibility study, mapping the yachting landscape by verticals, players, and solutions and sizing the market opportunity. At a certain point in time, I concluded the proposition was strong, the evidence was clear, and the opportunity significant to move ahead and started to build the company.
Why does the industry need the solution you’re providing?
In business, people need to make informed decisions, we believe the same principles, methods, and applications apply to operating and managing a yacht. We think the availability of accurate, timely, and interpretive data is critical to a yacht’s safety, operability, and longevity. Our objective is to develop data-driven solutions, that improve productivity, are more cost-effective, and provide interactive ways to manage yacht-related activities.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
The opportunity to combine our passion, and interests to further our knowledge in yachting, technology, and entrepreneurship is very enjoyable. Furthermore, assisting to drive innovation forward, trying to improve technology adoption, and aiming to play a part in shaping the future of the yachting industry is also very rewarding.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Throughout the life cycle of a technology start-up, there are ongoing and ever-changing challenges to overcome. They range from people management to product development, capital requirements, and building out operations. We work on a project-based approach to address most of these challenges and therefore we are also constantly iterating. We lock down our value propositions and our capabilities, but within that, we are constantly doing sprints.
We do weekly sprints, so we can learn quickly, reduce time wastage and move on. On top of this, is the learning curve, which is very important and challenging not just for an individual, but also for the company as a whole. We visualize our learning curve within the organization and therefore determine the intrinsic value and growth trajectory on an ongoing basis.
Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?
I believe you need to have a vision and a mission that is driven by passion combined with a purpose. If you do not have a long-term goal that is fuelled by the right purpose then it is very hard to have the staying power to play the long game required to build a company. Moreover, you need to develop the ability to persuade others to join you on the journey and hire team members foremost with the right attitude and aptitude. Furthermore, each member should bring particular domain expertise to the team, and getting the right mix of complementary skill sets is key.
In addition, you need to practice what you preach. Are you able to lead or manage a team? Can you set the right culture? You need to be able to clearly and openly, and in a consistent manner communicate with your team. A technology start-up will face many challenges, pressures, and conflicting priorities. As you are working in a constant state of flux, you need to be able to manage, structure, and enjoy operating in such an environment.
What’s the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?
We are excited about building out the company, delivering on our product roadmap, and further developing our relationships across the yachting industry. In the next few years, we aim to become a leading company in the yacht management software space and be able to demonstrate product-led growth with a strong value proposition.