By George Otto ~ November 21st, 2013. Filed under: Current Issue.
Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO & Co-Founder of CRUZIN
Jaclyn Baumgarten, Cruzin’s CEO &
co-founder explains what’s behind her
company’s innovative way to charter boats
By Christine Carpenter
SB: Tell us a little bit about your company, Cruzin. When was it founded and how did the concept of boater-to-boater chartering come to be?
JB: CRUZIN is America’s leading fully insured, peer-to-peer boat rental and charter marketplace. Boat owners can turn their boats into sources of income by renting them to pre-screened, qualified renters at www.Cruzin.com. Both owners and renters are protected by $1 million in insurance and the towing services of BoatUS throughout the rental. Cruzin was founded in the Fall of 2012. My two brothers both own boats, and found they weren’t able to spend enough time on them. At the time, they were considering selling their boats, but I suggested they rent their boats to other boaters instead. My brothers could then generate income from their boats on the days they couldn’t use them. However, there was no vehicle to do this, no peer-to-peer rental community existed. That’s how Cruzin was born.
SB: What attracted you to work for the marine industry? Can you tell me a few things that specifically ignite passion and excitement in working with/for Cruzin?
JB: I have 13 years experience working in Strategy and Operations for a number of Fortune 500 companies in non-marine industries. When we began developing Cruzin, I saw the opportunity to help keep people in the boating lifestyle, and help bring back some of those boaters who were no longer active. We have a dynamic, passionate team behind Cruzin, and as we developed relationships with industry people, companies and organizations, we found many whose mission equaled ours. The excitement comes from offering boaters a means to offset some of their boat ownership costs, and to help get and keep more people in boating. We have the ability to help change the industry through this nationwide online community at Cruzin. It’s amazing.
SB: What sets Cruzin apart from other charter companies in the field? How have you accomplished this and how will you continue to do so in a growing market?
JB: Cruzin is different from traditional charters, boat clubs and fractional ownership. Since all rentals are done directly boater-to-boater, there are no geographic, vessel type or time limitations. No other online rental marketplaces match the full services offered by Cruzin. Insurance is not included in some competitive programs, requiring participants to secure it through third-party providers. This can be expensive and difficult to secure. Cruzin includes primary, exclusive insurance coverage during the rental. Some companies don’t require boating experience; we require 2 years. Cruzin has the most robust screening process on the market, including a 2-part Experian ID and fraud prevention check, creating a safe and secure community for owners and renters.
We’ve worked hard to create a safe, simple-to-use online marketplace. Trust is important in the peer-to-peer economy; you need to provide security to those who participate. We very carefully selected our partners and worked with them to craft solutions that are properly suited for the boating sector. Our members’ satisfaction and security are our top priorities.
SB: What are you most proud of accomplishing in your position thus far as CEO/Co-Founder of Cruzin?
JB: It’s been exciting to develop relationships with industry leaders, such as the one we have with Westrec Marinas. They are helping introduce Cruzin at their marinas, and have been invaluable in their support.
SB: What do you love most about what you do?
JB: Talking to boat owners and industry people, who appreciate what we’re doing at Cruzin. They have supportive comments, welcome the concept and most importantly, share ideas about how we can continue to make Cruzin better. To get positive feedback from people who love the boating lifestyle is energizing and validating.
SB: How has Cruzin made a difference in the marine industry? I would love to hear specific examples of how you believe your Cruzin has enriched mariners experience on the water, and will in the future.
JB: One of our Cruzin members, who had been out of boating for 6 years, recently rented a boat through Cruzin, and subsequently bought another boat. Stories like these show how Cruzin can help grow boat ownership.
SB: What should we expect to see from Cruzin in the upcoming 2014-2015 year?
JB: You’ll see continuously expanding listings of boats nationwide, as our membership grows. We are also exploring partnerships that will further enhance the Cruzin value for both boat owners and renters.
SB: What is a product or two you would recommend for cruisers? Why?
JB: Any tool or resource that enables cruisers to better enjoy their destination is valuable. The RBFF’s Take Me Fishing site has a great interactive map of places to boat and fish: http://takemefishing.org/community/places-to-boat-and-fish/. Services like Marinalife make it easy to find guest moorings and great things to do locally. There are also many online resources about cruising destinations, and reading travel reviews in boating magazines helps provide personal perspectives on what might appeal to someone.
SB: How involved in the boating and marine community are you personally? Do you own a boat yourself? If so, what is the name and what do you love the most about being a mariner?
JB: I don’t personally own a boat at the moment, though my family, friends and Cruzin team members own powerboats and sailboats. When I’m able to spend time on the water with them, the sense of fun, relaxation, community and freedom are revitalizing.
Photo Credit Liza Gershman