Boatsetter, Cruzin team up to dominate boat-sharing marketplace

Andrew Sturner founded Boatsetter, which is merging with Cruzin.
Andrew Sturner founded Boatsetter, which is merging with Cruzin.

Two big competitors are teaming up to make a giant splash in the young, burgeoning boat-sharing marketplace.

Aventura-based Boatsetter and San Francisco-based Cruzin announced Tuesday that they are merging their companies. The combined company will carry the Boatsetter name but the brand and website incorporate the Cruzin look and feel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jaclyn Baumgarten, formerly CEO of Cruzin, is the new CEO of Boatsetter, and Andrew Sturner, formerly CEO of Boatsetter, is the executive chairman. The company will have headquarters in both South Florida and Silicon Valley, bringing together the capitals of boating and technology, Sturner and Baumgarten said.

Together, the company offers a network of more than 3,000 boats, which people can rent from private boat owners through an app or website by the half-day, day or longer. Boatsetter differentiated itself from other boat-sharing companies by offering a network of more than 1,200 U.S. Coast Guard certified captains, allowing boat owners and renters the peace of mind that an experienced captain will be at the helm and allowing captains to grow their independent businesses. Both companies had dozens of marina partners – and together have nearly 200 partners, the largest network in the industry, Sturner said. And together the two companies have raised about $7 million in financing so they are well-capitalized to face any choppy startup waters ahead.

“We were both pulling in the same direction but had complementary strengths,” said Sturner, a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of startup experience in technology, including as an early executive in CBS SportsLine and MovieFone, and in the marine industry as founder of Aqua Marine Partners. “Together, we are positioned to be the market leader, offering the only complete solution in the boat-sharing market.”

Cruzin was founded by Baumgarten and launched in 2012, creating one of the first online marketplaces for renters and private boat owners. Boatsetter launched in 2014 and was the first peer-to-peer company offering captained boats to recreational boat renters, in addition to insurance and on-the-water services. The two entrepreneurs have known each other for a couple of years, as Cruzin had set up operations in South Florida and had partnered with Westrec Marinas, owner of Harbour Towne in Dania Beach and other marinas. They began negotiating the merger in June. Baumgarten will be moving to South Florida but will also spend time in the Silicon Valley office. Boatsetter now has 20 employees.

“This is a big leap forward for the brand,” said Baumgarten, who has 15 years experience in Silicon Valley as a founder of startups and senior roles at Fortune 500 companies. “We have remarkably complementary assets and look forward to accelerating the speed of innovation in the multi-billion dollar marine industry.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.