Boatsetter relocates headquarters to Fort Lauderdale

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Boat-sharing startup Boatsetter has dropped anchor in Fort Lauderdale as it readies to expand operations nationally and internationally.

The boat rental website is a marketplace for private boat owners to rent their vessels to landlubbers and other water enthusiasts when they’re not in use, which helps to offset the costs of ownership.

“People think of us as the Airbnb for boats,” Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder said in an interview. “What we’re doing is connecting the boating industry in a unique way.”

Boatsetter recently relocated from Aventura and consolidated staff from Delray Beach and Seattle into its new 3,200-square foot headquarters in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

“This was a great opportunity for us to bring everyone under one roof and Fort Lauderdale is one of the boating capitals of the world, so it was a natural destination for us,” Baumgarten said.

Settling in before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opens also gives Boatsetter the ability to showcase the marketplace to nearly 3,000 charter operators attending the event during an open house Thursday.

Boatsetter.com’s offerings of water toys — about 5,000 vessels — currently range from “15-foot runabouts to 120-foot well-appointed yachts and everything in between,” Baumgarten said.

Prospective renters — newbies or experienced boaters— undergo pre-screening checks to ensure they meet insurance, boat safety and boat-owner requirements, she said. Consumers can rent boats without a licensed captain if they qualify.

“There’s no cost to sign up or join or even to list your boat,” Baumgarten explained. “We take a percentage of every rental transaction.”

Boat owners generally rent their vessels for a half day, full day or for longer customized charters, she said.

Among the Fort Lauderdale area boat listings on the website this week was a 26-foot Chris Craft sport deck boat for $395 plus fees for half-day rental. Another was a 65-foot Azimut yacht with captain included for $2,800 plus fees for a similar duration.

South Florida has been a “big market” for Boatsetter since its launch, but it’s now charting an expansion into five other U.S. markets: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Texas, Baumgarten said.

Internationally, Boatsetter is making inroads in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, where it has more than 1,000 boats listed, she said.