Borrow a Boat expands Airbnb-style rental scheme from super yachts to kayaks

Matt Ovenden, founder of Borrow A Boat

Matt Ovenden, founder of Borrow A Boat - Credit: Archant

An Essex company offering an ‘Airbnb’ style platform for boat hires is now about to embark on a new marine venture - offering its platform to sailing dinghies, kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards, as well as yachts.

Yacht in Croatia. Picture: Borrow a Boat

Yacht in Croatia. Picture: Borrow a Boat - Credit: Archant

Borrow a Boat is the brainchild of Matt Ovenden, an entrepreneur from near Chelmsford who founded two companies in the renewable energy sector before forming his peer to peer marine marketplace two years ago.

The platform now boasts more than 17,000 yachts available to hire from £100 a week to £50,000 a day, in 60 different countries around the world. At the top end, Borrow a Boat features a super yacht with a jacuzzi and sun deck you can rent in Greece for £50,000 a day. “We are getting luxurious ones now and may create a different area of the site for them in the future,” he said.

This week Matt and his team announced their first foray into Japan, with a catamaran sleeping 10 people available at £2,551 for seven days.

And three of the boats on the platform are in Ipswich.

A yacht in Mallorca. Picture: Borrow a Boat

A yacht in Mallorca. Picture: Borrow a Boat - Credit: Archant

“We are pitching to the new generation - a lot of people these days are experience hungry,” he explained. “They don’t want assets so much. They want experiences at the touch of a button,” added Mr Ovenden.

Mr Ovenden says his aim is to dispel the myth that holidays in super yachts are only affordable to a “privileged elite”.

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“We are democratising the boat industry and making it more accessible,” he said. “Most people will have seen yachts in movies and felt a pang of envy. A lot of people think it’s unavailable to them because of the cost and qualifications necessary. But you don’t need qualifications, because we can get a skipper to you. For £1,000 a week you can stay in a yacht in the Med - it’s less than most people think.”

Borrow a Boat embarked on a crowdfunding round last year on Crowdcube which attracted 700 investors. “We went on there to raise £200,000 and it flew up to £470,000 - We stopped in the end to stop giving away too much equity. I think people liked the simplicity of the idea. It does what it says on the tin.”

Interior of a yacht. Picture: Borrow a Boat

Interior of a yacht. Picture: Borrow a Boat - Credit: Archant

Since then, Mr Ovenden and his team of five have been developing the website, and launched a mobile app in April that enables people to look for boats near them to book and collect. He explained: “The app sends push notifications, so when you land by plane to Majorca, it will tell you how many boats there are, where they are and how much they cost. That’s unprecedented for boating, it’s very exciting.”

Mr Ovenden and his team will launch their new category at the Southampton Boat Show this Friday, where they will also have 16 boats lines up with skippers for people to try a boat for free, in order to tempt people who have never tried yachting before to give it a try.

After the show, Borrow a Boat will embark on a series A. funding round in the hopes of attracting venture capitalists willing to invest several million pounds. “As a tech start up, we need it to get to that next stage of growth, so we can hire more people and do more marketing.”

The company has a turnover of between £1m and £2m, and has had more than 500 bookings.