CEO Of Boatsetter, Jaclyn Baumgarten (‘Air Bnb’ For Boats) On Making It In A Man’s World


As the CEO of Boatsetter, a leading boat sharing marketplace, Jaclyn Baumgarten is forging a new future within the recreational marine industry with peer-to-peer boat rentals. The online community is helping to revitalize the recreational boating industry by improving the affordability of boat ownership, increasing access for boating enthusiasts, and introducing new generations to the boating lifestyle. Jaclyn was a pioneer in securing boater-to-boater insurance, the pivotal factor that launched the peer-to-peer market in the marine industry.

She is successfully introducing the world of boating to the 80 million millennials of ‘generation-share’ (think Air BnB, Lyft, Uber etc) who are not necessarily interested in things, but are looking for new and exciting experiences.

In the highly competitive sharing economy, gig economy, collaborative consumption market – whatever term you may use, there is a great economic shift happening —and not just in the United States. With companies like Airbnb and Uber proving to be highly successful, Jaclyn Baumgarten zeroed in on the fact that peer-to-peer wasn’t just a passing trend and that the $121B marine industry was ripe for disruption. In 2012, Jaclyn founded Cruzin – an early pioneer in the P2P boat sharing space.

And almost immediately the space began to get more crowded with new competitors claiming to be the “Airbnb of boats.” In this emerging market with all the players rushing to gain market share, Jackie asked herself, “What is the most strategic way for me to accelerate the speed of innovation in the marine industry and claim the leadership role?” This summer Jaclyn answered that question by securing a merger for her company, Cruzin, with one of her top competitors, Boatsetter.

We had a chance to talk exclusively with this female entrepreneur and industry pioneer on how she got to where she was today, some of the experiences she had being the lone female in many of her jobs, and how she found a way to create a business in an un-tapped market.


First, tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up with three brothers in California and was quite a tomboy (I was even the first girl to be allowed into the Indian Scouts in my town). As a teenager, I worked alongside my dad, an entrepreneur and commercial real estate developer.  I then went off to Wellesley College where I received a Bachelor of Arts Degree, worked as a strategy consultant for fortune 500 companies in NYC for three years, and followed up with an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Throughout my career I have worked in predominantly male-dominated professions– technology, commercial real estate and management consulting–always landing myself in roles where men have typically led. Luckily, I have always been comfortable working with men and learned very early on how to, not only, play by the rules but also how to use them to my advantage.

I started my career as a strategy management consultant for PriceWaterhouse Coopers and IBM Business Consulting. I then worked as Director of Strategy at DaVita Rx where I helped develop business plans for future operations and their $1 billion business expansion under the new healthcare reform. At Westfield Group, I was the only female developer; managing, designing and planning a 2 million square foot, mixed-use development project in Los Angeles.

Next, I became a founding partner and COO at AH Global where I was responsible for all investment and operations activities, and developing growth strategies for Fortune 500 companies in the Real Estate, Retail, Entertainment and Media Industries.


How did you come up with the idea for Cruzin, your peer-to-peer boat rental company?

The idea for Cruzin came from two of my brothers, who are both boat owners. They were frustrated that their busy lives didn’t give them enough time to spend on their boats, and that maintaining them was getting expensive. At that point, they were considering selling them. I thought that there must be an alternative, and suggested they should rent their boats to other boaters instead. My thinking was that they could generate income from their boats when they couldn’t use them, and at the same time, share their love for the water with others.

It seemed like a win-win, and when I looked around, I saw that my brothers were not the only ones with boats they loved but were not getting used enough. It turns out that there are over 12 million registered boats in the US and they are used only about 14 days out of the year!

At the time though, the idea of peer-to-peer boat rentals was merely a pipe dream as the infrastructure was not yet in place for boat-to-boater rentals – it was impossible for boat owners to find insurance that covered occasional rentals.

One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is convincing the world’s leading marine insurer to create a new class of policy. Together we developed what is now considered the “gold-standard” for coverage in the boat sharing market. Securing that insurance deal was the pivotal factor that launched the peer-to-peer market in the marine industry, and not just for my company, but for the entire industry.

Being a woman in an industry that’s predominantly male-dominated has required me to be more resourceful and more creative with my approach to securing partnerships and getting things done. Early on I set my sites on Westrec Marina, a marine leader in Florida. I knew if I could secure a deal, the traction would set us apart from competitors. I persisted and persevered for months to get an appointment with the highly respected president of the company, Bill Anderson, but couldn’t make it happen. After multiple attempts failed, I still refused to give up.


After researching the details of a new project that Westrec had launched, I learned that they were working with an investment bank, George Smith Partners, a firm I had strong ties with. Because of this connection, I was able to land a short 45-minute meeting with Bill. We hit it off right from the start and our meeting turned into three hours, and a wonderful partnership developed. Bill Anderson became an early advocate of the boat sharing pilot program and is currently one of the biggest supporters of the platform.

Once you’d done that hard work, what steps did you take to create Cruzin?

Well, I knew I had to learn everything I could about the marine industry, which meant splitting my time between San Francisco and South Florida, the boating capital of the world. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the ins-and-outs of the industry, so I spent a lot of time with boat owners, marine owners, and the captains. I also wanted to be able to execute a seamless experience between the boat owner and consumers – here I was again joining another de facto “boys club”, but I was excited and energized. By 2012 I was ready to formally launch the company, and even built an all female leadership team – not very typical in Silicon Valley– and we were on our way.

Tell us about the merger with Boatsetter.

In September we made a big leap and merged with one of our top competitors, Boatsetter. The new Boatsetter (of which I am CEO) now has the largest network of marina partnerships, certified captains, and thousands of boats around the world. As the marine industry continues to grow in this new direction, I’m excited to accelerate the speed of innovation in the market and give more people a safe and exciting experience out on the water.


Who are the people or mentors that helped as you moved forward with your project?

I’ve had some wonderful opportunities in Silicon Valley. The advice and support I received from the Women’s Startup Lab has proven invaluable to me. I have been given the chance to work alongside some really smart and successful women…for this I am eternally grateful.

Also Andy Sturner, my executive partner and chairman of Boatsetter has been invaluable to me. He is one of the brightest and most charismatic people I know, and I am thrilled to have him as a partner, mentor and friend. He’s a noted serial entrepreneur who has led two tech start ups to successful IPO’s, with a long tenure in the marine industry – I learn from him everyday.

What have you learned along the way?

I know that when I began to feel happier in my career – and perhaps even perform better – is when I stopped asking myself, “What can I do to fit in?” and instead asked, “How can I be myself but still kick ass in this environment?”

I have also learned that you have to be extra resourceful and extra savvy and often need to work two times harder than anyone else in the room. I’ve definitely had to overcome some biases, but I’ve also learned how to tune into my competitive advantage and make it work. And I strongly believe that to be successful as women, we have to be true to ourselves, trust our gut instincts and surround ourselves with other strong women to keep us on our toes. The queen bee effect and the old trend of women not helping each other is in the past.


You can find out more about Boatsetter by clicking here. Watch the video from Women’s Startub Lab below to hear Jaclyn talk about her business and why networking and mentorship has been instrumental in her career.

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