Marinanow, the sailing solution

Pubblicato il 12 Mar 2014

Marinanow founders, Alessandro Sestini, Paola Codina and Andrea Corvaglia have between them worked for almost 25 years as skippers and mooring operators in the beautiful and popular sea around North Sardegna. At sea it was obviously a magnificent sailing experience for crew and passengers but a completely different story when one had to head to port in search of berthing facilities.

For those who have never had to book a berth in port it is hard to believe how absurdly difficult this can be. It is as if the internet had never been invented. Telephone numbers and email addresses are hard or impossible to find, and frequently out of date. Many marina administrators, even when identified, take days or even weeks to reply, making price comparisons nearly impossible. Payment protocols vary from marina to marina with most only accepting complicated bank transfers. Language difficulties are a further complicating factor in this outdated approach to marina booking, all of which results in reduced revenue, costly no-shows and no adequate cancellation processes.

Alessandro and Paolo had already both set up their own successful IT and web design companies and they had noted the huge success of sites like bookings.com and hotels.com in tackling similar problems in the hotel industry where the creation of online booking portals has facilitated users to search for, compare prices and book hotel rooms in a matter of minutes. Working together with Andrea they have now created a dynamic system for berth booking, based on these highly successful hotel business models.

Working with a select sample of pilot marinas, they tested the concept over the summer of 2012 and then presented the results to The Net Value, a startup incubator based in Cagliari, headed by the ex-CEO of Tiscali Italia, Mario Mariani. With Mario’s encouragement they committed to the project full time, and have been accepted as one of the first two projects into the accelerator programme Seed Revolution (run by The Net Value and United Ventures, a Venture Capitalist fund in Milan). This programme aims to provide both financial and business support to companies so that ideas can be developed from conception, through start-up stage, seed funding and eventual future fundings rounds. With €50 000 from the programme, they developed a Minimum Viable Product which they tested on the market in the summer of 2013.

The test was a huge success, with Marinanow seeing a 20x return on investment on the money they spent in advertising in only two weeks. At this point Livio Quintavalle, with an MBA from Hong Kong and California, joined the project to provide business support particularly in the internationalisation of the project. He moved recently to Cagliari from London. Currently Marinanow is forming partnerships with marina operating companies, charters, yacht brokers and sailing schools and additional marinas are signing up of their own accord. There have been advanced discussions with United Ventures for a Seed Round that should close within the next month which will enable Marinanow to expand throughout the Mediterranean.

The bigger goal however goes far beyond just Marina berth booking and the site already includes the possibility to search for and book boats from charter companies. Most recently the possibility for private berth and boat owners to rent out their own berths and boats has been added to the side – a type of Airbnb for the nautical world. Local businesses related to the nautical world can now pay to advertise on the site so that their services appear on the map nearby the relevant marinas. Marinanow is also developing a powerful route planning program with the help of Sardegna Ricerche and will be rolling out a whole host of additional services as they continue their expansion throughout Europe and the rest of the World.

The Nautical world is an incredibly lucrative market which attracts both the super wealthy and the passionate sailor. It is, however, currently incredibly badly served from a technological perspective with many companies run by people too reluctant to embrace the potential of the internet. Mariananow has identified this exciting market opportunity and is in the ideal position to become the absolute ‘go to site’ for all your nautical needs.

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