The idea of sailing out in the open seas may bring to mind relaxation and plenty of wine on a state-of-the-art cruise liner – unless you don’t handle motion well, in which case you might envision a terrible time. For many yacht owners, however, sailing represents a chance for competitiveness and intricate teamwork, where they can pitt their boats against another for a coveted prize.
Through yacht clubs and groups, the community of sailing-lovers is a tightknit one, and one that Sydney startup MySail is looking to bring to a centralised online space. Through two online platforms, the business helps racing yacht owners manage their crew, from the point of hiring to all the organisational facets of scheduling.
An online connection platform, MySail’s “crew finder” wants to eliminate the bundle of traditional legwork that goes into sourcing crew members, typically involving whiteboard callouts and paper-list signups in yacht clubs.
Meanwhile, the startup’s management platform looks to simplify the email and spreadsheeting involved with organising a race event and crew members through a cloud-based management system.
MySail founder Deborah Dalziel, part of the sailing community herself, began developing the platforms late last year, after first imagining the solutions nearly a year back.
“I then started looking at market size by doing some research and talking to local yacht clubs around Sydney, to really determine if the problem was big enough to build a solution around. We started developing in November and finished the beta of the crew finder by the end of the month,” said Dalziel.
Bootstrapping most of the development process herself, Dalziel quickly recognised that continuing to fund the startup herself wouldn’t be sustainable. While a paid subscription service is planned for MySail’s future, the startup is currently offered access to both platforms free of charge and ad revenue.
Searching for options, the entrepreneur secured an MVP grant from the government as well as support from BlueChilli. With financial backing, the startup’s management platform soft-launched into market last month, while the crew finder has continued to operate in beta within two yacht clubs in Sydney.
“We’ve been focusing in Sydney for the time being because I’m based there,” Dalziel said.
“That said, [the platforms] will be available Australia-wide because they’re Australia-wide problems. These issues yacht owners face spans internationally too; I’ve spoken to people from many different areas like Canada, where I’m from, as well as Southeast Asia and the United States.”
With international expansion set as the long-term goal, Dalziel said the startup will first look to merge both its platforms together into one centralised space under the MySail banner, which will enable the integrated solution to offer the complete end-to-end process.
“There’s no one that does the end-to-end of finding a new crew then getting it sorted. There are other systems that do bits and pieces, but nothing together,” she said.
“We’ll help crew managers get organised earlier and actually find new crew members really quickly if someone drops out. You’ll also be able to view which crew are available so you can sort out who to assign to an event, all on the same platform.”
Currently, a yacht owner looking to find new crew, can search through the connection platform for candidates, narrowing their search by location and soon, according to Dalziel, by search categories too.
A crew member’s profile will contain all the details a manager looks for in their search, including sailing experience, yacht racing knowledge, location, prefered race length and crew position, yacht size, and availability.
Recommendations can also be left underneath a user profiles to bolster their reputation by contacting the MySail team.
“Each profile also displays basic information of age, location, and an image preview when searching, so users don’t have to waste too much of their time clicking on someone who doesn’t have enough experience,” Dalziel added.
When someone’s contacted to join a crew, they’ll receive an email. The process is similar to how the management platform operates, where crew leaders are able to “add” members to a team and assign them positions for an event by sending them an email invite.
Events themselves are scheduled and outlined on the management platform, where a crew manager can also sort through a team member’s qualifications and availability to determine who to assign to an event.
Since testing the crew finding platform in two of Sydney’s yacht clubs, Dalziel said the startup has accumulated roughly 400 users, a number set to grow as the business rolls out its offerings to the wider yacht racing community.
“I have a really big vision about where this can go. There’s quite a big market in terms of management and servicing, so we’ll look to add new features to support that,” she said.
“It’s quite a tight network of people, so I want to get a lot of people sharing it and get people in through the yacht club’s, popular sailing websites and social media. In the next month these two platforms will be combined.”
Image: MySail – Deborah Dalziel. Source: Supplied.