By George Otto ~ April 17th, 2014. Filed under: Current Issue.
Southern Exposure’s Q&A Interview
Andy Sturner shares with Southern Boating why he loves his job and how he believes BoatSetter is making positive waves in the marine industry.
By Christine Carpenter
SB: What sets BoatSetter apart from other competitors in the field? How has it accomplished this and how will it continue to do so?
AS: First and foremost, our management team is comprised of seasoned veterans with decades of marine industry, tech and rental car experience. We recognize that trust dynamics are very different with boats than with houses and cars. We are the first peer-to-peer marketplace that makes boat rentals accessible to consumers regardless of their boating experience. Our captain-centric approach helps foster trust and provides the broadest boating access possible by allowing anyone to enjoy a great experience on the water even if they have no prior experience.
SB: How has the company developed and changed over the years?
AS: We are a new company (founded in March 2013) and just launched our service this year. Since March 2013, we have established a national network of marina owners and operators with some of the most well-respected names in the industry including Loggerhead Marinas, Marinas International, Flagship Marinas, Morningstar Marinas, Suntex Marinas, Almar Marinas, and Aquamarina facilities.
SB: What attracted you to work for BoatSetter? Can you tell me a few things that specifically ignite passion and excitement about your job?
AS: Our industry is at a crossroads—powerboat sales peaked in 1988 and have been on a downward trend ever since. In the same time, despite sales volume dropping, nearly 80 percent of dollar volumes are up, indicating over four-fold increase in price. Compound the aging of boat fleets with an aging boat ownership population (two times as many owners over 65 than there are under 40), and a drop in utilization to 20 days per year on average, and you can see that our industry needs to address access and affordability. At BoatSetter, we are creating a business that helps address these challenges and creates virtuous circles for our marine industry partners.
SB: What are you most proud of accomplishing as CEO of BoatSetter?
AS: The team that I have built. We have assembled a team of incredibly passionate and talented people that extends beyond our management team to our investors, advisers and marine industry partners.
SB: What do you love most about what you do?
AS: Providing great experiences on the water. The joy that our customers experience is the most rewarding part of my job!
SB: How has BoatSetter made a difference in the marine industry? I would love to hear specific examples of how you believe it has enriched mariners’ experience on the water.
AS: We help boat owners subsidize their cost of ownership. By providing a way to make boating more affordable and creating the right incentives for them to properly maintain their vessels, we are improving the quality of their boating lifestyle, which positively impacts the marine industry.
SB: What should we expect to see from your company in this upcoming year?
AS: We will be rolling out our service around the country and entering into more marine industry partnerships that will help accelerate our business plan.
SB: What is a product or two you would recommend for cruisers? Why?
AS: I would recommend the TidalWavez app from the Apple App Store. It is the first social media application for boaters and boating participants. It’s a lot of fun!
SB: Has BoatSetter won any awards? If so, please tell me about them.
AS: Yes, “Best Startup” at the Super Conference in Miami.
SB: Are you involved in any outside marine organizations?
AS: I am on the legislative board of the Association of Marine Industries.
SB: How involved in the boating and marine community are you? Do you own a boat yourself? If so, what is the name and what do you love the most about being a mariner?
AS: I am extremely involved in the boating and marine communities. Through Aqua Marine Partners, I own a portfolio of marinas on the East Coast of the United States and am actively involved in all aspects of our community. I have been a mariner for 30-plus years boating on the Long Island Sound and the lakes of Pennsylvania. I have owned a number of boats in my life—my first, the Net Escape was a SeaRay 27 Sundancer that paid homage to my early Internet startup days using the Netscape logo as the design. I owned Options, my 38 Sundancer and several Formula boats including Hull #1 of the 47 Motor Yacht. I am now an avid BoatSetter user and will live rest of my boating life in high style.