Gabriella Richardson explains the story behind her bold venture…
Amid the pandemic and between jobs, Gabriella Richardson created Yachting Ventures (YV), a company that aimed to fill a gap in the yachting industry by providing a niche service to startups. Richardson grew up in the yachting center of Mallorca and worked as a charter broker for Camper & Nicholsons. After studying law at university, Richardson chose to leave Camper & Nicholsons to join SeedLegals. Backed by Index Ventures, one of the world’s largest venture capital firms, SeedLegals is a LegalTech startup automating the fundraising process for founders, startup accelerators and investors.
SuperyachtNews talk to Richardson to find out more about the story behind YV. “I grew up in Mallorca so this was my introduction to the world of yachting. Many of my friends’ parents were yachtsmen and I did a number of school projects around a crew mess table growing up I myself worked aboard a 30m yacht as a stewardess during one of my college summer vacations so I experienced life aboard first hand. Richardson explained. The entrepreneur explained the moment she decided to work at a major brokerage firm after graduating: “I remember picking up a Burgess magazine when I was working onboard when I was 20, which opened my eyes to the onshore industry.”
Two years later, Richardson started working at Camper & Nicholsons. Inspired by her entrepreneurial parents, Richardson decided to create her own company dedicated to helping start-ups in the maritime industry. Richardson explains that it was the combined experience of working in the yachting industry, followed by entering the tech scene in London and witnessing the support of entrepreneurs and startups in other industries that made him educated and inspired to start her own business: “I wanted to bring some of that energy to the boating and yachting industries and help bring about real change.
“We are essentially building a scalable global network of the most talented entrepreneurs, driving their growth by matching them with validated business opportunities, revenue, customers, data, expert knowledge and investments.” -Gabriella Richardson
Forbes picked up the work that YV was leading and published an article about the company last year. Richardson had identified a funding gap: “We need to have a conversation about how founders are actually supported financially to help bring new innovations to market. Early stage startups are often backed by passionate angel investors, so I think we need to educate and support potential angel investors in this space and build a framework to help direct more seed capital into the industry,” says Richardson. .
Speaking of said educational opportunities, Richardson clarifies, “While we used to offer a finished program with a start and end date, we found that to add real value, startups need more support. consistent, throughout the life cycle of launching and scaling a startup.’
“With this in mind, the YV Community is designed to act as an accelerator on an ongoing basis, providing startups with access to a vast network of industry professionals, regular workshops, resources, founder meetups, discounts and editorial opportunities. The YV Community is the only platform specifically designed for founders in the recreational marine and yachting industries, and we already have over 60 registered members after launching less than 2 months ago.
Richardson initially developed the business on a part-time basis, while also qualifying as a maritime solicitor in London, explaining ‘although it was a bit of a juggling act, it gave me a break and enabled me to organically build the business and the brand, without having to rush into profitability. Richardson has worked full-time on YV since August 2022.
The Entrepreneur details YV’s current work alongside event organizers and companies interested in showcasing startups. This year, YV has partnered with the organizers of METSTRADE to organize a gathering of startups with the aim of catalyzing collaboration and conversation within the global startup ecosystem: “we are also supporting boot Dusseldorf with the organization of a pitch event during the show next year, as part of their Blue Innovation Dock initiative.
When asked what goes through her mind when considering current recreational boating practices, Richardson cited a BlueFIN conference hosted by the World Ocean Council in Barcelona. Discussions focused on the $3 trillion blue economy and various investors were present including ocean funds, family offices, philanthropic investors, financial institutions and government funding agencies. Richardson said it was absolutely fascinating to hear about the amount of money venture capital funds are raising in this space and how they are combining financial returns for their investors with a real positive impact on the environment. It really is possible to do both!
Richardson pictured with Hullbot co-founder and CEO Tom Loefler at the BlueFIN conference hosted by the World Ocean Council in Barcelona
Richardson stresses the need for a pioneering spirit to generate greener practices: “While there are various corporate initiatives to make the yachting industry more sustainable, the development of new technologies to deal with the impact environment often falls on entrepreneurs willing and able to take the personal initiative and the financial risks associated with launching a startup.The risks are particularly prevalent when long periods of R&D are required to bring a new product to market (before business cannot begin to generate income).’
YV represents an indispensable service for the industry, encouraging economic growth and breaking with tradition in order to attract angel investors to invest resources in innovative services and designs. While Richardson admits she was initially discouraged by the reluctance to innovate in some parts of the yachting industry, she describes a change in attitude over the past few years: “The industry as a whole is definitely starting to realizing the importance of supporting startups and entrepreneurs trying to bring new products and services to market, or iterating on existing business models to raise service standards to users and customers. Several yacht shows, for example, have done a great job of showcasing startups.
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