Jaclyn Baumgarten: Strong With Poise + Power

As CEO of Boatsetter, Jaclyn Baumgarten is forging a new future within the recreational marine industry with peer-to-peer boat rentals. She is excited to introduce the world of boating to the 80 million millennials of ‘generation-share’ who are not necessarily interested in things, but are looking for new and exciting experiences.

In the highly competitive sharing economy, gig economy, collaborative consumption market – whatever term you may use, there is a great economic shift happening – and not just in the United States. With companies like Airbnb and Uber proving to be highly successful, Jaclyn Baumgarten zeroed in on the fact that peer-to-peer wasn’t just a passing trend – and that the $121B marine industry was ripe for disruption.

In 2012, Jaclyn founded Cruzin – an early pioneer in the P2P boat sharing space – though it wasn’t always easy to maneuver in the male-dominated marine world.

Almost immediately, the market began to get more crowded, with each new player claiming to be the “Airbnb of boats.” In this emerging space, with new entrants rushing to gain market share, Jackie asked herself, “What is the most strategic way for me to accelerate the speed of innovation in the marine industry and claim the leadership role?”

Last month Jaclyn answered that question by securing a merger with her company, Cruzin and one of her top competitors, Boatsetter.  The new Boatsetter now has the largest network of marina partnerships in the industry, thousands certified captains, the best in class insurance, and thousands of boats around the world.

How did you come up with the idea?

“The initial inspiration for Cruzin came from my two brothers, who both own boats. They were frustrated that their busy lives didn’t give them enough time to spend on their boats, and were considering selling them. I suggested they should rent their boats to other boaters instead. My thinking was that they could generate income from their boats when they couldn’t use them, and at the same time, share their love for the water with others.  I looked around and saw that my brothers were not the only ones with boats they loved but were not using enough – it turns out that there are over 12 million registered boats in the US, and they are used only 14 days per year on average.  At the time, peer-to-peer boat rentals were not even possible because there wasn’t any insurance available for this kind of use, so I worked with the top marine insurers for a year to develop the first boater-to-boater insurance policy in the business. And the idea was born.”

From that point on, Jaclyn worked hard to learn everything possible about the marine industry– even moving from San Francisco to the boating capital of the world – South Florida. “I got to know the marine owners, captains and boat owners in the industry so that I could fully understand the business from the bottom up.”

In the fall of 2008 when the financial markets collapsed, many boat owners couldn’t afford the upkeep and expense of keeping their boats “afloat” and many had to sell them quickly. Fast-forward to 2015 with the sharing economy going strong – boat owners now have a way to keep their boats and even make additional money.  “It’s a win-win – we want this to be a seamless experience for everyone involved, whether you’re a boat owner, or someone who wants to get out on the water for the day. We prescreen all of our renters and captains to create the optimal boating experience for everyone,” says Jaclyn.

Life Before Boating
Today Jaclyn is 37 and a graduate of Wellesley College, with an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She has held many leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley, guiding the acquisition and investment decisions of companies ranging from startups to $1B organizations prior to setting her sights toward changing the boating rental industry.

In addition, she was one of the few female developers in another mostly male-dominated industry – commercial real estate development where she worked for Westfield, the largest commercial real estate developer in the world – and ran one of the largest retail development projects in the city of Los Angeles.

Women’s Start Up Lab
Baumgarten’s strategies have continued to pay off with support and tactical advice from coaches at the Women’s Startup Lab, a Silicon Valley based female-founder eco-system that not only gave her a sounding board with like-minded women, but also gave her access to potential investors interested in supporting female founders and their companies.

Bon Courage!
As the sharing economy continues to grow, and Boatsetter continues to fine-tune its approach in the flourishing boat-sharing market, Baumgarten is out on the front line creating a new market for both owner and renter. She sees Cruzin’s merger with Boatsetter as a natural progression, “This is a big leap forward for the brand. We are looking forward to accelerating the speed of innovation in the multi-billion dollar marine industry.”

Photo by Liza Gershman

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