Entrepreneur in Yachting: Tony Stout, founder of YACHTNEEDS

Written by Sophie Spicknell

How did Tony Stout, founder of YACHTNEEDS build a marketplace and achieve major investment? SuperYacht Times found out more.Tony Stout, founder of YACHTNEEDSHow did the YACHTNEEDS journey begin?

After eight years of working onboard various yachts, the idea to launch YACHTNEEDS came to fruition in 2015 from my personal experience. One of the common problems we used to face while working onboard, was the tight time schedule to reprovision the yacht and finding trusted superyacht suppliers. 

The difficulties of sourcing products and services locally was becoming more evident each day as we were often coming into unfamiliar ports, and the owner or guests would turn up unexpectedly, or you would get a wild last-minute request from your guests. I thought to myself, there must be an app that can geo-position your location and that would bring up local, yachting specific sellers in, or near your location. 

I started researching for months only to find that there was nothing ‘digital’ in the industry with ‘location’ capabilities. As a side project while still working onboard, I started working on expanding the idea, and what the end result would look like. I spoke with my crew at the time, friends within the industry and sellers which I had been using during my season. Everyone loved the idea and I instantly had sellers wanting to be involved.

I was fortunate enough to meet my business partner and now investor who loved the idea. We then found a developer called Eleva (based in Pavia, Italy), pitched the long-term vision to them and we basically began coding/developing about one month later.

 We started as an online directory and mobile application to help crew members find local services and products in over 1,000 ports globally, but we always had the ambition of developing a marketplace. 

With the increasing demand from the crew members who used YACHTNEEDS daily, we went on to launch YACHTNEEDS chat in 2016, which allowed crew members to find and message other crew in their local port or further afield, for day work and socialising. Following this success of the chat, we then released YACHTNEEDS jobs, which allowed crew placement agencies the opportunity to publish their job offers to our growing bank of users.  YACHTNEEDS MarketplacePhoto: YACHTNEEDSWhat does YACHTNEEDS do?

YACHTNEEDS marketplace is changing how superyacht crews purchase products. 

Based in Monaco, our team has developed an industry-first, custom-built platform that brings together 100's of local, superyacht-specific sellers and their product catalogues onto one site. YACHTNEEDS marketplace gives captains and crew the ability to buy yachting products for each department onboard and to have their orders shipped directly to their location or collected by the buyer. By offering everything the captains and crew need on one easy-to-use platform from reputable, trusted sellers, purchasing superyacht standard goods has become quicker and easier for everyone. 

Our mission is to streamline the process of sourcing and buying superyacht products for captains and crew globally, and to save them the burden of having to contact multiple vendors to find and get what they need onboard.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced since you founded the business?

In this industry, we constantly need to be on our toes, reviewing how to deliver exemplary service onboard our business partners, and helping crew members in their buying process. We are operating in a fast-paced environment, and while maintaining brand consistency is key to us, we also need to be able to build a scalable business model. YACHTNEEDS in MonacoPhoto: YACHTNEEDSWhat are your plans for the future for the business?

Currently, YACHTNEEDS marketplace is investing a lot in technology and our team to ensure we bring a high-tech, state-of-the-art platform with high level customer service to the superyacht community. We want to ensure that all department needs onboard are met with the support of our technology and product range. As a response to the rapid and growing demand we have received, both from future sellers wanting to be listed on our marketplace, and crew globally looking to source and buy superyacht products, we plan to launch in the US and Caribbean by the beginning of 2023. 

This year and next, we will invest more than €1million and continue to develop a state-of-the-art, fully transparent marketplace. We aim to have 400,000 products live by the end of 2023, and as our platform grows, our aim is to get more local sellers involved allowing crew to buy locally, and in-turn, contributing to the global emissions reduction target by not having products shipped from far afield.

You recently secured €1.25 million in funding from the Monaco government and a private investor- what will this money do for the business?

We have already successfully launched in France, Italy and Spain with over 30,000 part codes and products currently active. We have a strong expansion plan for Europe and by the end of 2023, we will be global and aim to have over 400,000 part-codes active. This round of funding has allowed the team to shift gears and accelerate our expansion, constantly updating and improving our marketplace within this ever-shifting industry.

What would you say to upcoming entrepreneurs in the yacht industry?

Entrepreneurship is a journey of growth, both personally and professionally. Be resilient while being prepared for failure. Learn from your mistakes, take risks, and build a strong team who believes in the business model and who share the same values.

This article was originally published in Issue 43 of SuperYacht Times newspaper. To read more stories like this one and to never again miss another issue of the SuperYacht Times newspaper, subscribe here.

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