The Australian landscape is full of innovative entrepreneurs and visionaries willing to take the plunge into exciting new markets. Eden Exchange recently spoke with Matthew Conquest a Director of Make Fast Mooring.
Make Fast Mooring has literally taken the plunge. It is a community marketplace to find, rent and share available moorings and berths in sailing locations globally. It is quickly growing into a leading platform connecting mooring owners (marinas, clubs and private owners) with yachting lovers who need a mooring space through an easy to use digital platform.
Thanks for speaking with us Matthew. What triggered the idea for Make Fast Mooring? What were some of the challenges you faced to get the business off the ground?
The idea was born in 2015 when some of our directors were sailing around the Mediterranean and realised that life would be so much easier if they could access mooring and berth rentals from one digital platform. That prompted a ‘lightbulb’ moment – why can’t people easily rent or share moorings in the same way they rent their spare rooms or homes via a platform like Airbnb?
In terms of challenges, the business has been bootstrapped so we have had to keep an eye on investment. Thankfully for us, we have been able to create that vision – a simple to use platform that connects sailor with owners to find, rent and share moorings.
What brought you into the world digital marketplaces, especially in the unique area of sailing? Can you tell us a bit about your background and the team at Make Fast Mooring?
The team at Make Fast Mooring are first and foremost sea lovers. We all love spending time sailing or boating and were keen to create a digital marketplace around something we all enjoy. Having personally had an experience of searching for renters for a marina berth, I was immediately interested when I heard about the concept. We are all ex-colleagues from the same global consulting company and have collectively sailed through a number of the worlds most beautiful destinations including Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and of course Australia.
Market place based businesses can be tough to make work. Given that you have to build a value chain of both suppliers and and buyers, what are Make Fast Moorings key point of difference?
Our value proposition is simple. We offer mooring and berth owners (marinas, yacht clubs and private owners) another channel to market beyond their existing websites. This allows them to not only improve the commercialization of their moorings but also to drive foot traffic to their door to increase revenue from food and beverage or accommodation.
For sailors (renters or guests), we offer the ability to easily connect with owners wherever you are in the world and to instantaneously book, receive confirmation and pay for moorings and berths. This gives the sailor the flexibility to either plan well in advance or to book at the last minute, depending on the circumstance.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are both mooring and berth owners (marinas, yacht clubs and private owners) and renters or guests.
What stage of development is the business in and what are its strategic priorities? Where do you see Make Fast Mooring in a year from now?
We are in a ‘soft launch’ phase with a strategic priority to secure foundation partners as we look to acquire mooring and berth listings. Our focus is on Australia and New Zealand. In parallel we are in the early stages of an intensive digital marketing campaign that includes search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, digital advertising as well as traditional advertising through print. We are also planning a PR campaign with media releases well as targeted interviews with relevant sailing, boating and tourism journalists.
In a year from now we want to have a very healthy number of mooring owners on board across Australia and New Zealand and be branching out to Europe and the US as we head into the northern summer of 2017.
What industry trends do you think entrepreneurs in your sector need to be aware of? How do you plan to capitalise on these trends?
I believe that in today’s fast moving world, people can be skeptical of new businesses encroaching on traditional practices. If I think about sailing and boating, many of the traditional ways have been passed down from century to century and have always just made sense. Technology has enabled us to think differently about how we live and interact and helped to foster a global marketplace. The best operators in the new world are aware that there is a need to balance innovation with tradition and to be genuine in your approach.
What would you tell someone thinking of taking the plunge into a startup venture for first time?
Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and be involved in everything. It’s about blending your own life and career experiences with a team of like-minded people to achieve a goal. It can exciting but also a roller coaster.
In your opinion, what makes a good tech entrepreneur?
Someone who deeply understands the value proposition, who can inspire their own team and can seamlessly connect with customers and stakeholders to share the vision.
How do you rate the Australian landscape for innovation and investment?
I think innovation is certainly now part of the national narrative. The proof will be in the ability of our governments to manage the change that invariably comes with innovation and to attract outside overseas investment.
What’s the most interesting part of your job? What drives you to do what you do?
Right now I am talking to lots of different people about our business. I am enjoying the opportunity to explain our value proposition and to understand their perspectives. At the end of the day, I’m excited by the idea of combining two of my passions; the ocean and creating simple to use digital experiences that free us to spend more time doing what we enjoy.
Thanks for your time Matt
To get on board the make fast mooring community visit https://www.makefastmooring.com/ or call +61 8657 9447
make fast mooring