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‘Airbnb for boats’ startup Floatspace acquired by billionaire Ian Malouf’s luxury yacht charter business

- June 19, 2024 2 MIN READ
Floatspace founder Hugh Treseder and Ian Malouf.
Floatspace founder Hugh Treseder with Club Ahoy's Ian Malouf.

Sydney-based Floatspace, the ‘Airbnb for boat experiences’, has been acquired by yacht charter business Ahoy Club.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Floatspace founder Hugh Treseder, will remain as CEO of the brand under its new owners.

Ahoy Club was founded in 2018 by Sydney billionaire Ian Malouf and his daughter, Ellie, in 2018. Malouf sold his waste disposal company, Dial-a-Dump, for nearly $580 million around the same time. Club Ahoy has offices in Sydney, Miami, Monaco, and Golfe Juan France, around 100 staff and 3000 yachts in its charter portfolio, also offering sales and yacht management services, including refits. 

The two marine startups are more complementary than competitors, with Floatspace at the party boat end of the market, Ahoy Club on the luxury aquatic indulgence side.

If you’re the sort of person with the cash and inclination to spend $39,000 and three days aboard a 44-metre super-yacht during the Monaco Grand Prix, Club Ahoy has a plan.

Floatspace gives them the digital firepower for their yacht booking services globally. 

Treseder conceived Floatspace around the same time as Club Ahoy, before launching in 2020, just before Covid hit. The online concierge service offers boat and yacht day rentals by the hour for corporate events and celebrations such as weddings and birthday parties. It operates along Australia’s eastern seaboard and in Western Australia, as well as Auckland, New Zealand, and Florida, USA.  

The startup first raised $600,000 in late 2021 with Airtasker founder and CEO Tim Fung signing on as an investor and advisor, but the business struggled to attract capital subsequently, despite additional support from Amaysin cofounder Rolf Hansen in 2022 in the hunt for $3m in a Series A. In 2023 a $1.5m crowdfunding campaign on Equitise at an $8 million valuation didn’t float investor boats.

Teseder said that over the past 6.5 years, Floatspace thrived, developing technology to offer clients real-time availability, live pricing, and end-to-end automation for a seamless experience.

“The two businesses complement one another very well. Although having come at the market from opposite ends, both delivered excellent traction and growth, meaning combining the two would result in a force to be reckoned with,” he said. 

“Floatspace’s technology has been built by the  industry’s best, namely ex TripAdvisor staff Jeff Lewis and Jason Smith and can therefore expedite the Ahoy Club plans for scale. We’ve gone to a fabulous new home and having had some healthy rivalry over the years, can now turbocharge things. I’m proud, this was no easy  journey.

Ahoy Club CEO Ellie Malouf said Floatspace addresses the evolving demands of a luxury traveller.

“Clients today are empowered with extensive knowledge, conducting their own thorough research,” she said.

“For charters, they often know what they want, when they want it, and seek the convenience of booking that instantly. Clients now expect similar experiences in the yachting industry as they do with other premium services.”

 

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