The Explorer Mag brings you the best concepts in the travel industry. You’re traveling to France? You love sailing? You’re into fresh air and salted water ? It’s your lucky day ! Today, we had the chance to interview Olivier Guiraudie, 36, who decided two years ago after a successful career in Human Resources to launch his own start-up : Sailsharing. He was soon joined by Romain and Caroline in this interesting project.
What it is about :
Sailsharing is an innovative & collaborative online platform for boats rentals in France.
Why it’s different from the rest :
The concept and the price
The platform offers houseboats, sail boats, engine boats, and much more throughout France including the Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe). Tenants rent unique, off the beaten track boats. For example, you can rent an Arpege, a legendary yacht from the 1970s (a very nice one) from 600 euros per week. The other advantage is the price. The boats rentals available on Sailsharing are significantly below the market prices. Its founders are very attached to the idea of democratizing the marina. That is why all their boats can be rented with a skipper.
5 Questions to Olivier Guiraudie
1 – When did you launch the concept and what can people expect to find on Sailsharing?
I was on a boat during a tour of Corsica with friends two years ago. It was early September and I made the observation that ports were completely packed and that there were not many people actually “sailing”. For good reasons! Owners navigate an average of 15 days per year and rental rates remain high. At that time, people were talking about collaborative consumption and an emerging concept : Airbnb. It was a snap. The idea made its way, and by 2012, I was already working full-time on the project.
2- What was your main motivation (and still is) in the entrepreneur way of life?
The answer is within the question : It’s the fact of creating something, being an entrepreneur, learning, and doubting that brings some “spice” to the job. It’s intense and you know why you wake up every day ! I had created several business plans about sailing during the last 10 years but the market research always put an end to that. On the other side, the more I worked on the Sailsharing concept, the more the idea and the timing seemed perfect. So I decided to do it. I was on a linear career path within Veolia Environment (a big company) and wanted to change that. I had dreams and was walking straight in the opposite direction. With a Phd in Economics, I had a great career in front of me, but just not the one I wanted. I was made for the entrepreneur way of life and I am now learning a little bit more every day and being “free” is an amazing feeling even though it involves being quite stressed out.
3- What would you recommend to people who wish to become entrepreneurs?
I think they need strong listening skills and a good deal of audacity. It’s a long term challenge and young entrepreneurs tend to rush too much. On the contrary, I think it’s important to pay attention to the potential customers and to focus on a clear and legible offer : it’s the best way to avoid failure. They also need to interact with their peers because they have more experiences and can help you avoid their own mistakes.
4 – What are the conditions to be able to rent a boat on your website?
You simply need to prove you have sailing experience. The sea is quite dangerous and unpredicatable so you need to be able to evaluate your ability to sail properly. If you know your boundaries, then you can adapt your sailing program to them. You testify of it through the “sailing resume”, an online form, aimed to help the boat owner to evaluate your sailing skills. For engine boats, we’ll ask for a sailing permit and up to 3 years of sailing experience.
BUT DON’T WORRY ! If you’ve never sailed before, don’t panic, you can rent a boat with a skipper ! It’s a good way to discover the world of sailing and this first experience might just convince you to be do the necessary to be able to rent your own boat one day !
5 – Can we expect an English version on the long term?
The website will be translated by 2014 (beginning of the year). As for an expansion abroad, it’s planned for the future but we’re waiting to become the market leaders in France before seriously working on an expansion. All we can tell you for now is : Expect to be surprised in 2014, we might have some boats abroad for rent !
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