We sat down with Guglielmo La Via, founder of Navia, 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?
I have always had a passion for boats and worked in the field, except for a three-year experience with a multinational corporation where I realized I couldn't conform to their rules. I proposed the idea of designing eco-friendly boats to a historical Italian shipyard, but they declined. Later, a friend introduced me to two partners in the energy sector who wanted to start a company to build electric boats. I perceived it as a sign coming from somewhere and later that week we incorporated Navia SRL and brought the idea to life.
Why does the industry need the solution you're providing?
The boating industry has a significant environmental impact, and I believe proposing sustainable solutions is the best way to accelerate the energy transition. Additionally, I am convinced that for certain uses, such as leisure boating or the daily rental market, electric boats are the smartest solution. They can be recharged overnight while docked, making them highly convenient.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
Launching a startup requires a tremendous amount of energy, especially at the beginning when the idea is still taking shape. Not to mention the fundraising part, which was a real rollercoaster. Having people put money into your idea is very rewarding and makes you feel like you're doing something cool. When you build something from scratch, you learn a lot, even about yourself. You start doing things you didn't think you could, and finally being able to realize your dream is priceless.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
As I mentioned before, the hardest part at the beginning was convincing investors to put money into something that was just an idea. Then, the real challenge was designing an electric boat with affordable costs because we all know that when it comes to electric motors and batteries, costs can quickly skyrocket. If we want to make our boats known, we have to ensure that people are able to buy them!
Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?
The advice I feel like giving is to study as much as possible what you want to do and the market you want to enter. Then, I'll say something obvious but true - never give up and always believe in what you want to do, but without getting too fixated on things. Sometimes, by talking and listening to people, you can learn a lot, and modifying the initial idea is not a failure - on the contrary, it's an extremely healthy thing for a startup.
Finally, surround yourself with the right people, starting from partners, investors, and the companies you want to work with - all fundamental players for the success of a startup.
What's the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?
We have a plan, but we also know that it's subject to continuous modifications. Our goal is simply to make electric boats that are easy to use with an incredible sailing experience. So far, we have started with a 7-meter RIB, but we plan to expand the range with larger boats. We will work closely with our partners to make this happen. We are starting with a rental business to introduce our boats to as many people as possible. Electric boats are a new concept, and we believe that introducing people through rentals is the best approach.