Solana Beach resident Tariq Amassyali has a day job, but he‘s found a way to supplement his income doing something he loves – being on the water. Amassyali owns five boats docked in the downtown San Diego area that he rents to people who want to enjoy a day – or multiple days – on the bay.
The 40-year-old Texas transplant is one of thousands of people who are part of the growing network of Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer Florida-based boat rental company.
Amassyali has been with Boatsetter since 2017. “I started off with a personal boat but the cost of living in San Diego is pretty high,” he said. “I was new to the area, and it was a great way to make connections… and money.”
Amassyali said Boatsetter “filled a need of occupying my time on the weekend doing something I absolutely love – being on the water.”
Ten years ago, Boatsetter CEO Jaclyn Baumgarten saw a missing piece of the “sharing economy” – which includes Airbnb for home rentals or Turo for car rentals – and that involved hooking up boats and their owners with people who wanted the perks of a boat without having to invest in buying one.
She started her first business, Cruzin, to fill that void in 2012, and that company in 2014 morphed into Boatsetter.
Baumgarten says that while there are millions of privately owned boats around the world, the majority of those vessels are rarely used – typically taken out on the water an average of 12 to 14 times a year.
That leaves about 350 days of boats floating empty, days which could be filled taking people on the water – people who can’t afford a boat or who don’t want to purchase one.
And for boat owners who have spent thousands of dollars buying and maintaining their vessels, the lack of use means they may not be getting as much of a return on their investment as they could.
Enter Boatsetter, which users like Amassyali call “a great platform… creating a seamless transaction between boat owner and renter – hands down, the best in the industry for this.”
“There are more than 15 million privately owned boats in the U.S., most of which sit unused for the vast majority of the year,” Baumgarten said. “This makes (boats) extremely expensive and underutilized assets.”
Baumgarten calls Boatsetter “a game changer” because “we help defray the cost of ownership, and we enable entrepreneurs to start their own business from the ground up. (We have) opened up a new world of possibilities for boat owners who, on average, use their boats only two weeks of the year.”
Boating is a natural extension of the sharing economy, which has allowed people to turn homes, cars, recreational vehicles, swimming pools and more into revenue generators. Boatsetter says it has a higher cohort revenue retention than the leading homesharing platform (Airbnb), and that boat owners realize higher revenues year over year.
50,000+ Boats in 700 Locations Worldwide
Ten years after Baumgarten began her first peer-to-peer boating startup, Boatsetter has become the world’s leading boat rental community, with more than 50,000 boats available for rental in 700 locations around the world.
Boats on the platform come in all styles and sizes, from pontoons to catamarans to fishing boats to yachts, ranging from 8 to 222 feet in length. The company says that about 75% of the boats rented are less than 26 feet in length.
To date, more than one million boaters and boat owners alike have used the platform, and last year, Boatsetter saw a 50 percent increase in the number of boats listed for rent, including 140% growth in fishing boats and charter experiences recently added to its offerings.
In San Diego, Boatsetter has seen a 61% increase in bookings year-over-year, Baumgarten said.
Amassyali said his fleet of boats range from 21 to 36 feet and that he has rented out his boats just short of 1,000 times since 2020.
Baumgarten said Boatsetter in 2017 began a partnership with GEICO and Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) to pioneer the first-ever peer-to-peer boat rental insurance policy.
BoatUS is the nation’s largest recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group, with more than 800,000 members nationwide.
Scott Croft, VP Public Affairs for BoatUS, said the company recognizes the growing market segment of those who don’t want to or cannot own a boat and instead prefer to rent.
“Having the security of our specialized GEICO peer-to-peer boat rental insurance, as well as our 24/7 TowBoatUS on-water towing and assistance for unexpected breakdowns with each rental makes the decision to rent with Boatsetter that much easier,” Croft said.
Boatsetter also helps those who are unlicensed to navigate a boat find U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains who partner with the company to take boaters out on the water.
Amassyali said he takes people out sometimes but also employs captains for those boat renters who aren’t water savvy. According to his Boatsetter profile, the cost to rent his 28-foot Chaparral boat without a captain – and not including fuel – ranges from $500 for two hours to $1,800 for eight hours.
Boatsetter manages all the logistics to allow private boat owners to earn income. Owners of all ages, with all sizes and styles of boats, can build a successful business on the water, Baumgarten said.
Boat Owners Report Income at $100K and Higher
Some Boatsetter users reported generating more than $100,000 in revenue in 2021 alone, Baumgarten said.
Boatsetter Operators – peer-to-peer owners with one or more boats listed like Amassyali – make up 70 percent of the Boatsetter platform, with millennials making up the largest segment of Boatsetter boat owners at 42 percent.
Baumgarten said interest in boating as a whole soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that boating “has and always will be the perfect social distancing activity.”
“We’ve seen more than 50% of our renters staying local,” she said. “Boatsetter allows for personalization, flexibility and convenience, providing renters with a way to work directly with local boat owners to plan authentic, detailed, custom-tailored experiences.”
She said that more and more Americans are embracing life on the water and that Boatsetter has seen more than double the number of rentals completed year to date compared to 2021. “Leading up to July 4th weekend, our team was thrilled to report an historic all-time high for single-day booking attempts across our platform,” she said.
CEO AND CO-FOUNDER: Jaclyn Baumgarten
HEADQUARTERS: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
BUSINESS: Peer-to-peer boat rentals
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 100
SOCIAL IMPACT: Boatsetter’s #MindYourWake initiative encourages collaboration with other likeminded businesses so big changes can be made to clean up waterways and prevent pollution.
NOTABLE: Boatsetter recently launched Boatsetter Academy, a first-of-its kind, free beginner’s boating course, dedicated to teaching new boaters the fundamentals of operating a boat.