By Susan Jobe
Need fireworks, a compass adjustment or SIM cards? Have a broken pump or a dirty tank? Trying to find a yacht agent, a hair dresser or a florist? Looking for a workout, a tattoo, a dinner date – or just somewhere fun to hang out in a new port? YachtNeeds has you covered.
What started out in 2015 as a smart phone app to list yacht-related services has exploded into an interactive tool that links captains and crew, wherever they happen to be in the world, with nearby services and suppliers, training, jobs, entertainment and, not least of all, each other. Think “Tinder” in a multi-faceted dimension designed specifically for those who work on yachts.
The company rolled out its new venture during the Monaco Yacht Show: Superyacht Radio, a global radio station available on the YachtNeeds app and via www.superyachtradio.com. Along with 24/7 music, the station will broadcast job updates every half hour, with Costas Charalambous, YachtNeeds global production and marketing manager, serving as “the voice” of the station. Previously, the company also launched a website, www.yachtneeds.net, that replicates the quick search and geo-locating service already available on the app.
A quick stop at the YachtNeeds booth in the early afternoon of the first day of the Monaco Yacht Show showed that 1,452 users in the immediate vicinity had logged onto the app. Within five minutes, that number had jumped to 1,589. That’s because the app is the first of its kind, said founder Tony Stout, a Kiwi who now calls Monaco home.
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. Always looking for ideas, Stout and the YachtNeeds reps are busy surveying captains and crew at the docks this week – and giving away Air Selfie flying cameras in the process. Feedback they receive during the show will be integrated into upcoming releases of the app, Stout said.
The company’s vision originally had been to “connect the dots between crew and businesses,” Stout said. But social networking and job hunting quickly became hot features as well. Crew agents have been given back-end access to the app, he said, so that when they input a job opening, the post goes live within about 3 seconds. The profile photos of those looking for work appear with an orange border, so captains and managers can easily find them by scrolling through the profiles of local users. Earlier this year, YachtNeeds added a jobs portal that allowed captains and crew to upload CVs and manage “one-click” job applications from their computer or phone.
YachtNeeds is free to download and use because the company makes its money through the businesses that offer their services and products. Crew can search worldwide for over 24,000 suppliers and services and more than 18,000 captains and crew, or let the app pinpoint a GPS location from more than 600 ports and marinas around the globe. Choose a business and the app will provide phone number, email or website address, Facebook, Twitter and map links – and now, a time-saving live chat option. That means a user now, for example, can send a picture of a product number or barcode to a service rep, who then can determine within seconds whether they have the part.
Of course, the app’s chat and networking functions are the biggest part of its draw. No matter how far you travel or where in the world yachting may take you, YachtNeeds reminds you that you are always part of a large and vibrant community. Step foot in a new port and the app will display the profiles of captains and crew nearby, and tell you exactly how nearby they are. So check it out – you might be surprised at who’s right around the corner!