Floatspace closes pre-Series A funding round

Australia: Online boat rental marketplace Floatspace – dubbed the “Airbnb or Expedia for boats” – has closed a pre-Series A funding round from a host of investors as it seeks to become the go-to for any event on water.

The Sydney-based startup, which recently rebranded from its previous ‘Flotespace’ name, has received investment from SiteMinder founder Mike Ford, while Amaysim co-founder Rolf Hansen and Airtasker founder and CEO, Tim Fung, both invested for the second time. Jeff Lewis, a former VP of technology and strategy at TripAdvisor, is also a non-executive director at Floatspace.

The latest round gives Floatspace a $12 million valuation, only four years after its launch.

Speaking to ShortTermRentalz, founder and CEO, Hugh Treseder, said that the funding would be “instrumental” to the growth of Floatspace, including helping the startup to scale its product and technology, take on new hires and set it up for international expansion into new markets [including Miami in the United States] in preparation for a Series A raise.

Treseder said: “We’re gearing up some incredible new hires in tech and product. It’s a very exciting time and hence we are bringing on the best in the industry.”

He told The Australian about the startup’s plans for product and technology enhancements: “Typically you go onto Google and you type in ‘boat rental’ and you’ll come up with 50 websites. We’re trying to be the funnel there with payment on site, industry-first stuff like real-time availability and pricing with our proprietary software and some really cool payment innovation coming in to split costs among groups, for example.”

Looking ahead, Floatspace has identified 22 markets worldwide, including Croatia and Greece, where it is focusing on growing its global footprint.

Ford told the same publication that he had observed how the boat sharing and rental space “has had less technology innovation than adjacent spaces like accommodation [and] has immense potential that can be unleashed through technology and product innovation”.

Tim Fung, founder and CEO of Airtasker, said: “Floatspace is doing something pretty special by bringing together a very fragmented industry of boat owners to make it easy and transparent for customers to access. Hugh and the team have built a customer experience that drives exceptional growth and I’m super excited to be on onboard as they take Floatspace to the world.”

The majority of Floatspace customers are millennials between the ages of 25 and 35, and about 60 per cent are male, according to Treseder. Boats can be rented out for four-hour charters for anything from celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and hen and stag parties to corporate events.

Pent-up demand has soared for boat charters in Australia as Covid lockdowns begin to ease across the country, and with the summer and festive season on the horizon, Floatspace is already receiving bookings into 2023 and is projecting annual revenue of $10 million to $12 million.

Treseder said: “We are 560 per cent up year on year and are seeing huge growth as we take on overseas markets. This current raise gives us a strong run into the expansion we have in store.

“We are developing innovation that will enable us to truly be the go-to for any event on the water. These cover payments, automation, and initiatives that will bring the most user-friendly and efficient platform for those looking to have fun on the water,” he added.

A number of other boat rental and yacht charter marketplaces, such as GetMyBoat, have also reported record business growth in 2021, while Borrow a Boat opened a crowdfunding campaign to raise £750,000 in preparation for a potential initial public offering [IPO].

Listen back to the ShortTermRentalz podcast interview with Treseder from July, in which he discussed the reasons behind the skyrocketing demand for boat rentals, length of stay trends, and why the company brought on board Jeff Lewis.