By Nancy Dahlberg

South Florida-based marine-tech startup Boatyard has been acquired by MarineMax, the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer.

Boatyard, a digital platform that allows boat owners to save time by using their smartphones to arrange for boating-related services, will remain an independent brand led by its founder Nathan Heber. Heber will become president of Boatyard at MarineMax. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Heber said he and his team will be remaining in Fort Lauderdale.

“I am excited to share that after six years of building, learning, innovating and growing, Boatyard has joined the MarineMax family. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of team members, partners, advisors and investors to go into battle with every day, and I am eternally grateful for their support,” Heber said in comments on LinkedIn. “We are excited to start this next chapter at our new home. We chose to join MarineMax because of their incredible leadership team and their commitment to drive innovation in the industry. I am looking forward to continuing to work on delivering remarkable experiences to our boat owners.”

In light of the coronavirus crisis, he added: “We begin this next phase during unprecedented times, and now more than ever it is critical to spend quality time with the ones you love. The Boatyard team will continue to be there for our customers to enable those experiences. The journey continues.”

Boatyard, founded in 2014,  began its journey as a peer-to-peer boat rental platform, but while building that platform, Heber had his aha moment.  Boatyard changed course.

Boatyard became a digital platform that offered services such as fuel fill-ups, boat cleaning, maintenance, captains and more from its app, and it offered a version for marinas and dealers to offer to their customers. As a result, Boatyard was named “Top Product of 2015” by Boating Industry Magazine.

“We set our sights on a giant white space in the boat services market. The reason Boatyard exists is to deliver happiness to the boating community. We knew so many people who weren’t using their boats because they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of maintenance, cleaning or taking the ride to the fuel dock. We knew there had to be a better way, so we built one,” Heber said in 2015.

MarineMax, headquartered in Clearwater, FL, said it seeks to transform the boating experience with its new MarineMax Customer Experience Platform, with Heber at the helm.

“We believe this digital platform can become an accelerator in MarineMax’s evolving strategy to enhance and further transform the boating experience,” MarineMax president and chief executive officer W. Brett McGill said. “There is significant pent-up demand for the types of solutions Boatyard brings to … make the boat ownership experience easier and more accessible.”

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Nancy Dahlberg
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