By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Thanks to Boca Raton-based Yachtico you can hit the high seas for your next vacation through the click of a mouse.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Steffen Brünn, the online booking portal connects sailors and vacationers to the boat of their liking for an excursion in one of 40 countries.
Pick from 16,000 vessels and destinations like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Thailand or Malaysia. Have a boating license? Navigate by yourself or add on a skipper, also known as a captain, or a deck hand for help during your trip.
The company launched in 2011 and has helped streamline the charter business and introduce people to renting a boat as a vacation. They are located in Research Park at FAU.
“Forget Disney,” Brünn said. “See the most beautiful places from the water.”
The inventory of boats is mostly sailboats and catamarans. There are some with motors, some houseboats and a selection of super yachts that are over 150 feet.
Brünn said the two most common people booking on his site are families or a group of friends. About 40 percent of the bookings come from Europe, where the company has an office in his native city of Berlin.
The idea was to replicate what hotel booking sites do for vacationers but for those who want to travel by boat.
A customer of booking rental boats himself, he said he knew how frustrating the process could be. He remembers calling a travel agent who would come back with three boat options only to find out one or two aren’t even available.
His goal is to provide transparency and ease for customers. You can see what boats are available and when along with pricing and information on what each boat comes with.
You pay for the excursion in two installments, one at booking once the company confirms the boat is available and approves your request and then eight weeks before embarkation.
Brünn works with local companies that own fleets of boats, not individuals. All boats are vetted by Yachtico.
Yachtico is not Brünn’s first business. He has started and sold several companies. His first business out of school was a company that refurbished computer servers. The company would clean and then sell servers, of course this pre-dates the cloud.
He sold that company and created a video transcoding software that took videos and formatted them in over 100 ways. That company was bought by a subsidiary of Random House Publishing.
Then, he worked with several European CEOs on projects before he decided to work on his own project.
“I wanted to move the needle,” he said.
He was between car leasing, which is a different model in Europe, and boat charters. Ultimately, he took the waterways over the roadways.
He said the business has seen a 50 percent increase annually and he has a strong repeat customer rate.
From the French Riviera to the Azores, he said charter trips provide flexibility and the ability to see and do as much or little as one wants.
“You decide when to go and where to go,” he said.
The typical trip lasts a week and people book in advance up to a year especially during peak holidays.
For more information, visit https://www.yachtico.com