Interview With Matt Ovenden, CEO & Founder of Borrow A Boat

Borrow A Boat, aka the Airbnb of boating, is Britain’s leading boat hire and yacht charter marketplace.

Founded in 2016, Borrow a Boat are part of the vanguard of companies digitising the large and maturing global charter market, set to be worth $30bn annually by 2027. The company has grown rapidly since formation and have raised over £4.8 million in capital from a mixture of crowdfunding, private investors, and venture capital investors.

One of the pioneers of peer-to-peer charter, Borrow A Boat is on a mission to make boating more accessible, affordable, flexible and inclusive for all, to help drive participation, and make chartering a boat simpler.

Their marketplace enables customers to charter boats with or without a skipper, depending on their experience, with all meeting the stringent safety and insurance codes, standards, and regulations for yacht chartering in their respective locations. Whilst boat owners can list their vessels and offer themselves as skippers, helping to offset the high costs of boat ownership by reducing maintenance costs and marina fees.

Borrow A Boat currently have access to over 45,000 boats in 65+ countries.

Who Is Your Target Market?

As part of our mission to make boating more accessible, affordable, flexible and inclusive for all, our target market consists of those who already love boating and those that are curious to dip their toe into the water and experience the joy of boating for themselves.

We’re working to change the elitist connotations of boating and, in fact our research found that 42% of 18–24-year-olds, no doubt inspired by shows like Below Deck and seeing images of their favourite influencers relaxing on-board luxury yachts, were hoping to charter a boat last summer.

What Is The Demand Like For Your Boats?

Whilst the effects of the pandemic obviously brought much of the travel industry to a halt, we experienced a strong 2021 in terms of sales.

Many travellers were seeking out self-contained and localised holiday opportunities, for which boating is ideal, which enabled us to achieve all-time monthly sales records in the second half of 2021. We followed this up by clearing over £1 million in sales, in January 2022, smashing all previous sales records.

Now, with international travel firmly back on the radar; the pent up demand is palpable – we’re expecting demand for boating to remain strong. In fact, to date 90% of our bookings for this year have been for international boat charters and we’ve already received a large number of bookings for summer 2022 with popular destinations including Croatia, Greece and the Balearic Islands.

How Have You Successfully Navigated The Last 18 Months?

One of our biggest challenges came with attempting to complete two crowdfunding rounds amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic. Following a year where venture capital investment in the travel industry dropped by 55%, appealing to investors to invest in a boating company was never going to be straightforward.

Ultimately, we were able to overcome this by providing detail of the rebounding market, using examples of growth to date to forecast the increasing popularity of the boating industry, whilst illustrating the rapid growth of the company.

What Are Your Plans For The Future?

We are an industry disruptor and our aim is to break through the glass ceiling of the boating world, making it an accessible and affordable option for a much larger audience, all the while paving the way for a refreshed interest in boating on a global scale.

After expansion into four new countries: the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the acquisition of competitor businesses Helm, Barqo and Beds on Board, and the successful completion of not one, but two crowdfunding rounds totalling £1,555,334 in 2021, we have now cemented our position as the largest yacht charter marketplace in the UK. Not to mention as one of the leading yacht charter marketplaces globally.

Future plans include bringing our product to new markets worldwide. As such the funds raised in 2021 will allow for further expansion and acquisition in 2022, including launches into Spain, France, Germany and Italy, as well as additional tech improvements, product development and digital marketing optimisations.

We are also planning to IPO in 2022, which will be a world first for a boat charter marketplace.

For more information on Borrow A Boat, visit