After attempting to meet up during a very busy boot Dusseldorf, we finally had the chance to sit down with Nick Gelevert, Founder and CEO of Boatsters Black over Teams in early
February. Nick comes from a long line of yacht brokers, his grandfather Hans Lengers founding the Netherlands’ first brokerage. Today Nick is both the CEO of the ‘first Dutch
superyacht charter company’ Boatsters Black with seven international offices and an impressive portfolio of pedigree yachts, and the Sales Director of brokerage firm Lengers. With
expansion always on his mind, Nick has much in store for the boutique charter firm. SYT found out more. With a legacy of brokerage in your family, was it always your plan to become
I was born and raised in the midst of the yachting industry, and of course it came to my mind from a young age that I might work in the industry as well. My grandfather started
selling yachts in the 1970s and there was also a boat building business within the family, so yachting is truly part of my family heritage. When the time came for me to start my
first business however, I decided to break from the family tradition and I founded a company within the real estate industry. I think it was partly a youthful rebellion – I was
only 23 – but I quickly realised that I’d made a mistake not following my passion for the yachting industry.
I had been an active and competitive sailor from the age of eight, racing every week, and of course having grown up within my family, yachting was truly where my heart lay. So I
decided to pivot the concept I’d created within the real estate industry, and do something similar within yachting. The business became Boatsters; the first AirBnB for boats. So
how did an AirBnB for boats transform into a superyacht charter brokerage house?
In 2015 we launched the platform and were the first in the world to do so. There were some other early adopters but we grew very quickly, operating in 63 countries with 12,000
boats available for rent. It was a successful beginning but we quickly realised that in order to become a truly profitable business, we would need a huge operational network. Boats
are nothing like houses; they need work, maintenance and expansive shoreside support.
Why do you think that the company has done so well – how do you stand out from the crowd?At the same time as I was having these thoughts, clients from Lengers were generating leads
and asking questions about Boatsters and enquiring if I could assist them with yacht charter. From these leads came a very organic transition into Boatsters Black, where we began
to work with crewed yachts above 20-metres. Not long after this transition, we took Boatsters offline and I focused my energies on the development of the superyacht charter
business. Since that decision we’ve opened international offices, are managing some very exciting yachts and expect to double our fleet in 2023. The company is positive and
profitable and with the direction we’re currently going, we will be one of the top players in the charter industry within a few years.
I believe that our approach is what makes us stand out. We are a boutique charter company, and we don't have aspirations to be the biggest, we want to provide the best service to a
limited number of clients. We have regular contact with owners, we offer a personal concierge service for onshore support, we are incredibly active and make our clients really feel
how much we value them. What has it been like breaking into an industry that has been dominated by long standing and large companies, such as Camper & Nicholsons or Fraser?
When we set out we knew it would be like David and Goliath, but I have always enjoyed a challenge. My aspiration when we set out was to establish Boatsters Black as the industry’s
first Dutch charter house, just as my grandfather was the first Dutch broker. I am happy to say we’ve achieved that goal and now we are looking to the next challenge.
The yachting industry has an obsession with being the biggest, with companies claiming ‘the biggest charter fleet’ or the most charters completed, but what does that actually mean
for the client? Very likely it means an impersonal approach, with yachts being managed by a conglomerate rather than a person – we do not aspire to become that kind of business!
What are your plans for the future for the business?
The next stage is expansion. We’ve built a base from which the company can grow exponentially and my attention first will be to make sure that our services are the best they can
be. We aren’t going to be accepting any and all boats to the fleet, but really making sure that the yacht is able to offer clients the best services, with a stable crew and good
In 2022 we had a revenue of over €12 million and with an expansion into the full spectrum of services including crewing and management, I expect that to see a stable increase this
year. Finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Firstly, focus on an aspect of this industry and be the best at that aspect. There are so many generalists within yachting and what there needs to be is more specialists. Secondly,
know your product better than your client, there are too many brokers out there who don't truly understand superyachts and that does a disservice to clients and dissuades people
from remaining in yachting.Nick Gelevert
Sales revenue last 36 months: €200 million
Company founded: 2014
This article was originally published in Issue 44 of SuperYacht Times newspaper. To read more stories like this one and to never again miss another issue of the SuperYacht Times
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Wed 22 Mar 2023 | 09:30