Tubber co-founder, Ron Spoelstra, tells about the developing process behind Tubber, his vision for the future of the company, and why Tubber is not a “standard startup”.
What inspired you for this Startup?
I saw that there was a need for a new way to go boating. People don’t want to own boats anymore, they only want to sail them. There are still many people who want to rent a boat via charter companies, ask lots of questions, advice, and extra services. It will remain for long, but it will die slowly. We saw that people were interested in peer-to-peer market and there was a demand to create something like that. We noticed that few companies were experimenting with it, but they could not get their value proposition right. Not only that, but we could see their mistakes, but we didn’t want to enter the market at that point in time. After two years, there was still something missing, and we decided to create Tubber. We knew how to fix it and make it better because we already had contacts on the market.
People don’t want to own boats any more, they only want to sail them.
How do you see Tubber in 3 years?
Tubber will be at least one of the key players in the boat-sharing market. It is already a well-known platform among people, without making a big noise. I see it in a Top 5 boat sharing companies. I see it as a global brand. The headquarters will stay in the Netherlands because it actually works. Dutch people are well known for sailing. Locally, we would need some people to check boats and to help customers. For practical reasons, we can stay in the Netherlands forever.
What do you think about sharing economy trend?
I am also a boat dealer and it ‘s hard for my boat selling business. I understand that it is important to accept and to go with it. I would love for people to contact me regarding the purchase of a boat, but I understand that less and less people will do that. I also understand that renting a boat will allow you to see more in the world and you don’t have a commitment to one place only. When I was young it took me a week to sail from the Netherlands to Denmark. I could not see that much, but having airplanes allow us to travel further in a short period of time. Now you can see much more in one week.
What is the competitive advantage of Tubber?
We are not a standard startup. We know how the market works and our other company, Nationale Watersportbank, is making a profit already. Not only that, but we can offer low commission rates to our clients because we don’t need big investors. Our competitors have to go to investors and as a result, they ask a very high commission from their customers to bring a return on investment in a very short period of time.
We can offer low commission rate to our clients, because we don’t need big investors.
What advice would you give to people who want to rent their boat on Tubber website?
I would say, make sure you have a nice picture with the name of your boat. It should be your own picture, taken in real-time. A detailed description of the boat will help renters a lot. Let it be known if your boat is in a good condition. You can explain the way the boat works, what type of safety equipment you have on board. Basically, you need to make sure that your renters will have the best time of their life on your boat. It will also help to get good reviews. If it is a performance boat you should talk about technical specifications. If it is a luxury boat you can talk more about the places to visit, food to consume, or what activities are possible while renting a boat, like water-skiing, stronger outboard, snorkeling gear, etc.
What advice would you give to people who want to book a boat on Tubber website?
You need to book a boat that you understand and can handle. Make sure you are experienced enough to handle the boat you’re renting. For example, if you only have experience on a small open boat, I would not advise you to rent a very large yacht.
You need to book a boat that you understand and can handle.
What is the best decision you’ve made so far for Tubber?
I believe the best decision was made when we created a value proposition to our customers. We took the interest of boat owners into account. It is already difficult for them to survive in this economy, and we need to work together to help each other. We ask them how we can help them and assist them during big boating events in Düsseldorf and Berlin or small private events. We keep very personal contact with them in order to understand their needs and later apply it on Tubber.
Can you shortly describe your past career?
I used to be a banker. After the crisis in 2002, I ended my career as a banker. After that, I went sailing for a year and I thought it was nice to have a few boats and rent them out. So I did. It was a very successful business, and it got noticed by two French men. They were inviting me to see their boats in order to make promotions for those boats in the Netherlands. At that time Anne de Vries asked me to teach him sailing and he became my first client by buying my first Allures boat. He also wanted to combine business with sailing together and from then on our partnership has begun.