Boatsetter reels in new acquisition, launches platform for fishing experiences

By Riley Kaminer

The startup recently logged year-over-year growth of 564% in March, yet 'what you see now is just the start.'

Fort Lauderdale-based Boatsetter has just announced the launch of Boatsetter Fishing, a platform that provides users with fishing experiences in Miami and the Keys, among other top recreational boating destinations in the US.

The announcement comes on the heels of the boat-rental startup’s acquisition of Fisher Guiding, a marketplace for booking fishing trips. Boatsetter will leverage Fisher Guiding’s portfolio of more than 2,500 on-the-water excursions and partnership with over 500 fishing charters, guides, and outfitters.

The platform aims to provide fishing experiences at all budgets. For $400, users get a half day rental for three to four anglers. At the top end, $2,500 buys a full day for six anglers accompanied by experienced local fishing guides and captains.

Boatsetter’s co-founder and CEO, Jaclyn Baumgarten, told Refresh Miami that this expansion into the fishing space fits within the company’s overarching goal to make boating more accessible and affordable. “Boatsetter Fishing will help us meet our objective of bringing more people into the boating lifestyle.”

According to Baumgarten, Boatsetter has already started to successfully democratize the passtime. Around 50% of their renters are millennials, and 54% of renters are female. Overall, women make up just about a third of recreational boaters and fishing participants in the US.

In the spirit of offering something for everyone, Boatsetter also launched a premium service called Boatsetter Lux earlier this year. Boatsetter’s in-house team curates unique, extravagant experiences on the water. From jet skiing on the Mediterranean to fine dining experiences from award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, Boatsetter Lux designs unforgettable, exclusive boating excursions for its customers.

Boatsetter has seen a dramatic increase in business during the pandemic. Baumgarten explained that this is because “boating became one of the few activities that families could do outdoors while social distancing.” 

This rise in outdoor boating has been good for the startup’s bottom line: Boatsetter is on track to double their business in 2021. In March, Boatsetter logged mind-boggling year-over-year growth of  564%.

Yet according to Baumgarten, “what you see now is just the start.” Boatsetter has ambitious plans for the upcoming year, starting with introducing some deep-sea fishing locations in Mexico. “It’s all about expanding to a broader audience by creating new experiences that go well beyond just the renting of a boat,” said Baumgarten.

Boatsetter was founded in 2015 with serial entrepreneur Andrew Sturner, and Baumgarten moved to Fort Lauderdale from the Bay Area to steer the startup. Over the years, the startup has raised about $27 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase. Baumgarten, an Endeavor Entrepreneur along with Sturner, says that “the experience of being a founder in South Florida is even better than in Silicon Valley.” She highlighted the support of founders and the collaborative environment that enable South Florida to offer “unparalleled” opportunities compared to other places she has lived.

Baumgarten underscored the growth of the local technology sector as a regional phenomenon above all: “We are a region; I don’t see city lines.”

Boatsetter has shifted to a remote-first workforce, having decided not to renew its lease on a 6,000 square-foot building in Fort Lauderdale. The company has satellite offices in Seattle and Ibiza, as well as a small coworking space in Fort Lauderdale, which helps “maintain a cross pollination of ideas” for teams who benefit from in-person meetings. 

Baumgarten described her approach as allowing for “maximum flexibility and autonomy,” with no set restrictions on in-person versus remote working. “I think we’ll continue to have a hybrid model of working,” she said. “I don’t see us moving into a new large headquarters here anytime soon.” 

Riley Kaminer