"I am used to coming into industries and disrupting them": Jonny Dodge of My Ocean

Jonny Dodge has been turning heads – and ruffling a few feathers – with the success of his newly founded brokerage firm My Ocean - Yacht Charter & Sales. Merijn de Waard and Francesca Webster sat down with Dodge onboard one of the company's current yachts at this month's Dubai International Boat Show to find out a little more about how and why the man dubbed by Forbes as 'The superyacht influencer', has moved from charter client to charter manager. Jonny Dodge of My Ocean CompanySo, tell us a bit about yourself, nightclub owner and Grand Prix promoter to founder of a charter and yacht sales company – it is an interesting transition!

Well, I love and knew the yachting industry from a young age. We were close family friends with Robert Braithwaite, Founder of Sunseeker, and I always attended yacht show and spent time around superyachts which definitely sparked something in me for this industry. After university I had a number of businesses, from running nightclubs in London to organising the Gumball Rally. Ultimately everything I do is experiential, about high end, unique experiences, be that a supercar rally, Formula One or on a superyacht. 

With the F1 business we chartered yachts all the time for the Monaco and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so I was very familiar with yacht charter. Starting as a customer meant I knew what it was like to charter and therefore I know what charterers are looking for, which is certainly an advantage. Ocean Sapphire yacht cruisingAnd how did you then move into the charter management side of the table?

We initially began chartering yachts for clients under the umbrella of GP Management, the corporate experiences company that I run alongside My Ocean, in an ad hoc manner, but that changed considerable during Covid. In 2020 the client experiences side of the business became less viable and while we have some amazing things planned for the coming year (such as a trip to break the world record of crossing the Antarctic by car) it was really the charter side that began to gain in popularity. 

So I started My Ocean on the back of that interest at the beginning of Covid. I've always been known for having a Little Black Book of millionaire clients so that helped get things off the ground, but I literally started by renting €3,000 day boats to take friends out in the South of France while I was at my villa in the summer and then that rapidly grew. 

I came out to Dubai when France began to head toward another lockdown and thought we could do a few day charters while we were here, but it really took off. 

Babylon by Rodriquez Yachtsshe was the first yacht sale you closed?

Yes Babylon is has really been my baby, i've known the vessel for about eight years and she belonged to one of my best friends. One of our clients was chartering the vessel a lot and really loved the vessel so I suggested that he might be able to buy her, we sat down together during one of his charters and I called the owner on Facetime and did the deal. So she was the first yacht I sold and it was a lovely one to close given my relationship with both the owner and the client. 

Your main focus is on crypto – can you go into a little more detail?

Our client base is completely international but we really do focus on crypto. I would say we are one of the largest crypto charter brokers in the world at the moment – last month alone we did more than $10 million in charters which included more than a month long charter aboard Flying Fox

We are the intermediary for the client, they come to us with crypto and we pay the central agent in their currency which is not something many brokerage houses have the infrastructure or understanding of. Flying Fox yacht by Lürssen exteriorPhoto: ImperialDo you see a lot of growth among the younger generation who make money with crypto?

I think the age of the clientele in yachting has dropped by about 10 years within the space of about two years. Our average age of clients is between 30-40 and we are working on a new-build Benetti at the moment for a young owner. There are so many people within the crypto space that are now interested in yachting and we want to be the brokerage for those clients. 

In my opinion crypto clients are the wealthiest people with the most disposable income in the world right now, they have more financial freedom and as such they can move at a faster pace – which is exactly how younger people expect to do business. Ocean Sapphire yacht deckWhat is your plan for the company – are you looking to create a global empire or continue to work very much hands-on with your clients as you do today?

It is a good question because i'm always friends with my clients, most of our charter clients invite me to join them onboard because we've built a great relationship and they know I am in the know about anywhere they want to be. It has definitely been about that for me in all of my businesses but in GP Management for example I am now moving to chairman and though some people will see it as the Jonny Dodge Show, I do want to build something more than that. 

In terms of expansion, our businesses is built around digital first and that is more than just a buzz word. I want to hire people who want to sell in the same way as me and share the vision I have for the business. We have a precedent in the company of instant communication and as a result we won't work with clients or suppliers who want to deal with email – we have set that rule of Whatsapp alone and we stick to it. 

While that might seem extreme it is all part of the ethos of the business, building a personal relationship with the clients and responding to them with immediacy. We've created an amazing platform and intend to continue with that mentality. 

I am very used to coming into industries and disrupting them, and some of the comments I make ruffle a few feathers but I am not afraid of that.Jonny Dodge of My Ocean Company