Tubber founder, Anne de Vries, shares his journey of creating a new boat rental platform, thoughts on sharing economy trend and his future plans. Discover what tips does he provide to boat owners and renters.
What inspired you to start Tubber?
I already own a good working charter company, Nationale Watersportbank, where a lot of older people book their sailing holidays. However, I really wanted to show to younger people that sailing can be fun and cheap. A lot of times people think that sailing is only for the rich, but this is not true. I have built good connections with the boat owners. For many years at my company, Nationale Watersportbank, we did a lot of communication between customers and boat owners. Now I see that with the help of internet and an excellent communication platform the boat owners can talk directly to their customers. In the end, they have a more advanced knowledge about their boats and places to see in their area. Just a couple of years ago this concept would be difficult to execute since not many boat owners from Italy, France, Greece or Croatia spoke English. Now things are changing and I see a lot of opportunities.
I really wanted to show to younger people that sailing is fun and can be cheap
How do you see Tubber in 3 years?
I think more and more people will book boats online. The expectation is to have around 5,000 to 10,000 boats on Tubber. I hope to have lots of boat’s reviews and a good selection of boats on the site. I see that Tubber will grow steadily since the boating market is different than the hotel market. When you book a hotel room, you don’t even know who your neighbour is, but in marinas, sailors are always talking to each other. Together with other players on the market, we can make sailing more open and fun for younger people. I expect to have more customers from Eastern Europe. In the past 10 years, their income has been increasing, and more people are willing to travel to Europe. Their advantage is easy access to the Mediterranean Sea by car.
We will automate the routine job as much as possible at Tubber, but I don’t want to lose the personal communication with the users. I want to keep the personal touch. There is no way we can build a successful boat sharing platform by copy and paste.
I think more and more people will book boats online
What do you think about sharing economy trend?
It is not a new trend. I believe it is named differently. However, it is getting more and more mature and plays a significant role in the economy. I personally love and use Airbnb a lot, because I don’t like hotels. I always rented small rooms, even before the internet. In the old days, I would search in the newspapers or look for the signs in the city about the accommodations for rent. I believe that the quality of service and rooms will get better and better on Airbnb. You can read reviews online, and only the best places will be successful. It also means that to keep a high ranking score will be more and more difficult. The prices are low now, but I expect them to go up in the future.
What is the competitive advantage of Tubber?
The team behind Tubber knows a lot about boats and sailing. We built over the years a personal relation with many boat owners that we see every year. We know what companies are reliable and which are not. The biggest advantage is that we love sailing and we are spending time on the water. In the past, we did a lot of communication for boat owners, and now we believe they can do it themselves. Therefore we ask them very little commission. It allows us to pay people in our office to provide a safe and functional platform.
What advice would you give to people who want to rent their boat on the Tubber website?
As a boat owner, you need to provide as much information as possible about your boat. The type of information, of course, will be different for a motor boat, sailing boat or any other boat type. If you have a motorboat, communicate the amount of horsepower it has, what license you need and where you are allowed to go. For instance, if the boat is in Mallorca, let clients know if you are authorized to take it to Ibiza. You can also leave your suggestions about different places to visit, people love that type of information.
If you have a sailing boat then tell the users about what type of sails it has, how old they are, what the color of your boat is and if the navigation is inside or outside. Be very clear about what is allowed and what is not allowed on your boat. Do not promise things which are not possible. In case you receive the same question all the time than it would be good to update your boat profile on Tubber.com.
What advice would you give to people who want to book a boat on the Tubber website?
It is actually the opposite of the previous question. You can ask as many questions as you want. You need, to be honest about your experience of sailing or boating. If you say that your sailing experience is 5 years and you went sailing only for one week a year, it means your sailing experience is only 5 weeks. You need to ask for as much information about local weather and areas for sailing. You might have sailed a lot in the past, but you don’t know in particular about the local conditions. Again you can ask locals for advice where to sail, where to eat and what places to see.
What is the best decision you’ve made so far for Tubber?
To stay with my thinking. I don’t check other companies, but I stay in contact with my users all the time. If people call me at 9 in the evening, then I will still answer all of their questions and advice on the best sailing locations. What I like is giving customers personalized advice, not only the standard replies. I want to put my love and feeling about sailing in my company.
I stay in contact with my users all the time
Can you shortly describe your past career?
I studied International Marketing and Languages in Groningen. Despite the fact that all the marketing theories from my study are outdated and not applicable anymore, I can still apply my knowledge of Italian and English at my work.
My first post-graduation job was at the Yellow Pages, where I discovered my passion for sales. After that, I had a successful career at the Nationale Vacaturebank, a well-known company in the Netherlands for job searching. When the enterprise was sold to new owners, I decided to go for a long 6 months sailing trip. That trip has inspired me to start my own company, Nationale Watersportbank. Today it is a successful company in the Netherlands, and in 2015 we decided to expand to the British market. Now I am busy with promoting Tubber on the global market.