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Startup Spotlight: CaptainBook

This week's Spotlight features CaptainBook, the startup company that is on a mission to streamline the booking process for water-based activities and tours. We spoke to Co-founder and CEO Jerome Bajou to hear about the journey so far.

How did you come up with the idea for the business?

Jerome operated a sailing tour service, and Luca was involved in managing his wife's travel agency. Essentially, Luca spent his days reaching out to Jerome for information on prices and availability. However, sailing and constantly answering calls weren't compatible activities. To solve this, we created a simple web page allowing Luca to directly book Jerome's boat. When the pandemic struck, we found ourselves with ample time on our hands. This period allowed us to completely overhaul the application, transforming it into a platform accessible to all — from providers of experiences like sailing boats and motor yachts to resellers such as hotels and travel agencies.

Why does the industry need the solution you're providing?

The industry requires CaptainBook because it addresses a fundamental inefficiency in the booking process for water-based activities and tours. Traditionally, these bookings have been managed through manual coordination and direct communication, which is time-consuming, prone to errors, and inefficient for both service providers and customers. By automating the reservation process, our platform streamlines operations, reduces the potential for mistakes, and significantly enhances the customer experience. It enables instant access to pricing, availability, and booking capabilities, thereby eliminating the need for back-and-forth communication. Additionally, our comprehensive management tools for resources and staff, coupled with secure digital waivers, cater to the unique needs of the maritime activities sector. In a landscape where efficiency and security are paramount, our solution empowers businesses to optimize their operations and focus on delivering exceptional experiences to their clients.

What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?

Over the years, we've established more than six companies across three different countries, so embarking on a new venture isn't uncharted territory for us. I even launched my first tech company at 19. The aspect we find most gratifying is the independence that comes from steering your own ship. Additionally, it's incredibly rewarding when customers approach us with their challenges, and we're able to provide them with the perfect solution. Witnessing their satisfaction is genuinely fulfilling for us. Moreover, the thrill of developing and introducing something novel to the marketplace fuels our dedication and hard work.

What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

The competition is rude in this space. Other platforms don't do exactly the same things as we do, but they were here before us. We needed to show more value, while earning trust of our early adopters. It means a more expensive product to build for us, to offer the innovation we are providing on top of the normal consensus set of functionalities provided by the market in general.

Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?

Our nugget of wisdom: launch early, launch quickly. Unveil your creation with just enough features to see if it sticks. Scoop up that feedback, tweak, and refine. Embrace the flops—after all, the shots never taken are the goals never scored.

What's the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?

ChatGPT In the coming years, CaptainBook is setting its sights on revolutionizing its platform with a deep dive into artificial intelligence. We're venturing beyond the typical realms of customer support and marketing, focusing our AI integration into core operations like the booking process, inventory management, and dynamic pricing strategies. Imagine a world where every operator has a virtual assistant at their side, providing real-time decision support, and making them feel supported at every turn.  

Additionally, we're turning our attention to the realm of financial services, recognising it as a critical pain point for operators. Whether it's facilitating advanced payments, financing new equipment, or assisting in hiring optimal staff, we're exploring ways to offer substantial support. Stay tuned as we decide which of these innovative paths to embark upon, aiming to address the top challenges faced by operators in our industry.


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