Monaco-based YachtNeeds co-founder Tony Stout was receiving so many downloads of his latest app YachtChat from crew based in Florida, he decided to book a last-minute flight from Monaco to Miami on Feb. 12 to find out why.
Stout wanted to talk with some of his users face to face, so he spent part of Saturday (Feb. 13) walking the docks at Yachts Miami Beach boat show chatting with captains and crew.
On Feb. 9, the online chat app went live. “It’s been six days now,” Stout said. “We’ve had over 1,200 downloads. And we had over 600 people looking for work yesterday (Feb. 12),” Stout added.
So far, crew from Monaco and Ft. Lauderdale are checking in more than any other ports in the world,” Stout said.
The app, which aims to help captains and crew network and chat online, will now go through a series of upgrades and improvements.
Stout decided to show up at YMB and Miami International Boat Show (MIBS) in person to get feedback from app users and talk to potential investors.
On the docks at the YMB, Stout and his Marketing Rep Jennifer Juriska stopped at yachts and answered questions from crew and captains about how to narrow the search fields for specific jobs.
“Crew can talk live,” Stout explained to one crew member who downloaded the program on the spot off yachtneeds.net.
“Can you filter out by area?,” an engineer asked Stout. Yes, the answer was. “If I’m on there looking for a captain’s job, is that for me?” the engineer asked. Stout showed the crew member how to navigate the layers of the app.
Stout spent more than six years working on megayachts, so the idea for the app came from his own experience of finding ways to connect with other crew and search for work.
“If you have any ideas about what to add to it or how to change it, let us know,” Stout said to crew and captains he visited.
And he got plenty of feedback: “It’s attractive, easy to use,” said one crew member. “You don’t need instructions to figure out how to use it.”
“Step by step,” Stout said about his approach to refine the app as he gets more ideas from users.
“It seems user-friendly, and I like the whole day work thing,” Bosun Matt Davey said. In YachtChat, captains and crew can create an account, then each day log in and switch a button to activate an orange border around their avatar to signal they are searching for work.
“It’s just another avenue and everybody’s got a phone,” said one crew member about using YachtChat to look for work. He liked that he could access it on his phone.
“It’s not like you can always get on a computer. I’m going to use it when I finish with the boat show,” he said.
Next week, Stout said an upgrade will allow users to synch their contact lists up in the app.
“We changed the settings so you can now search for more specific workers, this week,” Stout said.
“And the following release there’s going to be video CVs so captains can see who they are talking to.”
Engineer/Capt. Gordon Skellett took a look at the app from a hiring perspective.
“I would try it,” Skellett said.
Our company is a U.S. company, so I have to hire somebody with a Social Security number,” Skellett told Stout. Does it have that information?
“We can get that in there for you,” Stout said, “If it would make using it easier.”
“Is there a way to rate these people?” Skellett asked. “That’d be awesome. That would weed out people. That would be another thing that would be great for me.”
Stout is taking the feedback he received from captains and crew at the docks during the YMB event and will be integrating them into upcoming releases, he said.
Suzette Cook is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.