Nowboat: Seafaring Adventure Platform

A tool connecting travelers with extraordinary yacht and sail experiences, with environmental NGOs getting support along the way

Yacht and sailing adventures represent one of the fastest growing categories in travel. In fact, it’s forecasted that by 2020, $51 billion will be spent on seafaring and everything that accompanies it. An avid kite-surfer and world traveler, Giovanni Alessi Anghini looked at the industry and found a lack of innovation, awareness and uniformity when it came to booking. To combat this (and the extreme legwork it comes when searching for a charter service) he founded Nowboat, an all-in-one platform for discovering and booking adventures at sea—all with an impactful, environmental surprise. Anghini has spent years building a system through which vendors can apply—vetting them, and then connecting them with consumers. Tangentially, he’s opened his doors to NGOs who receive a share of the profit.

Nobody has done what Anghini is doing (in this category) and by thinking 10, 15 or 20 years ahead, he believes through customer service he can build a loyal clientele and ultimately impact the earth.

“We now work with more than 300 charter agencies,” Anghini explains to CH. “We offer more than 1000 adventures around the world. 900 more operators have registered on Nowboat who are being vetted—a process that includes checking insurance, how contracts are handled, and listings. The number of adventures they will have to offer in the coming months is huge.” To best understand what Nowboat delivers, one can easily look at the interests of Anghini himself, as he explains how he has adventured in the past. “If you want to kite-surf in Indonesia or dive in Greece, you go to Google and search those key terms. Basically, you end up with dozens of websites, from both small and medium-sized charter agencies. You have to browse all of them. Get in contact with all of them. After they send all the offers, you have to regroup and start comparing, finally choosing the right one.” Nowboat’s platform does all of that through one easy, intuitive search. Users can further indicate budgets and get adventures that match.

“We are not a charter agency,” he continues. “We are a marketing and tech solution for charter agencies. We ended up splitting the payment in a different way.” Nowboat makes 10% from each booking, a relatively small sum in the world of Airbnb-level fees. Initially he had planned on Nowboat processing all payments for excursions, but because of mom-and-pop charter services, the tremendous variations in laws between nations, and that impact on lack of universal contracts, they let customers finalize their reservations directly with the charter agencies. Paying the 10% to Nowboat does secure the reservation, however.

The duty of our generation is to create business models that are really able to give back virtuously and transparently

When Anghini says, “The future of this project is to create a new standard for the entire industry” he doesn’t just mean for consumers or companies looking to rent out their boats or plan adventures. While developing both the B2B and B2C sides of the business, he incorporated one final element: charity. “We are in a position to make change,” he says. “The duty of our generation is to create business models that are really able to give back virtuously—and transparently.” Here, this means that 3.5% of a booking (drawn from Nowboat’s 10%) goes directly to an NGO.

“When you are at checkout, after accepting the terms and conditions of the charter agency, you can not proceed any further unless you select the local NGO that you want to support,” he explains. “NGOs register on the platform, and when you geo-locate your experience, describe your projects and make the booking, 3.5% automatically goes from the traveler directly to the NGO.” This means travelers arrive to a destination where they’ve already put money into a local environmental cause. “We are trying to make the industry itself contribute to ocean protection where the adventures in yacht and sail happen,” he says. Anghini notes that yes, this does reduce profit margins but this is a model everyone in the travel industry can consciously support and adopt.

Anghini hails from the Alessi Italian design family and it’s through lessons learned in childhood that he approaches entrepreneurship. “I started thinking a couple of years ago, why don’t we try to merge the understanding of design beyond product design into services and businesses?” he says. “The way I understand business design is by taking an industry—in this case yacht and sail boats—finding out who the stakeholders of the industry are and bringing design to craft a business solution to add value to everyone involved.” Naturally, the stakeholders include charter agencies and customers, but the ocean and its biodiversity also factor in substantially. Through years of dialogue with all parties involved, the platform was built. “The technology itself is not designed by us, but by the players in the industry that are asking us,” he says. And through its honed, accessible nature and all legwork that went into affiliate vendors, it’s become the best (and most responsible) place to book a boat and all that comes with it.

Images courtesy of Nowboat