By Greg Ellison
(June 3, 2021) Connecting recreational boaters with short-term mooring rentals is the intent of Dockshare, an online platform developed last year by Ocean Pines residents Nate and Gina Young.
“Last Memorial Day was our soft launch, but this feels more like a true launch,” Nate Young said.
Despite the covid-19 pandemic largely restricting social interactions during 2020, the altered conditions failed to halt the new initiative’s progress, Young said.
“The work-from-home element that was already in place made it really easy to assemble our team and get rolling,” he said.
Moreover, Young said the global health challenge helped spur interest in activities on the water.
“The boat industry and boat sales are just through the roof,” he said. “Boating is the perfect socially distanced pastime.”
Young said the concept was envisioned in July 2019, some years after he and his brother bought an Ocean Pines waterfront property.
Dockshare users would have the ability to find vacant dock spaces for short-term uses of an hour, a day, a week or longer.
“Boating isn’t something you try and enjoy and then stop doing,” he said. “Once you get hooked, it’s for life.”
Since last year, Dockshare’s developers have been researching the market.
“We interviewed a group of dock owners,” he said. “We learned a lot in the process.”
Young said roughly half of the dock owners consulted expressed a great interest in using the online platform.
“We felt that was a really good sign if dock owners said this is something I would consider,” he said.
Numerous respondents said the concept has been needed for a long time.
“We’re marketing to both boaters and dock owners,” he said. “We’re launching into select markets.”
For now, Dockshare subscribers can search marinas and private docks along the East Coast between New Hampshire and Florida.
Appreciating that liability issues could present a friction point for attracting users to the platform, Young said legal clearances are currently under review.
“We hired a firm that specializes in insurance and liability,” he said. “We’re in the process now of updating our waivers to make sure, to the best of our ability, we’re protecting all parties involved.”
Young said both boaters and dock owners would be encouraged to carry proper insurance coverage.
“The best way is self-policing and building a community,” he said.
Dockshare team members are still developing use guidelines with one fundamental message for clients.
“Leave it better than you found it,” he said.
Young also said boater safety would be a pillar of the Dockshare platform.
For now, the Dockshare marketing plan is to follow demand and concentrate efforts accordingly.
“No matter who my customer, is they’re going to want to see a decent listing amount,” he said. “I think spreading myself thin by going big in every market is a mistake.”
Young is also hoping to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with marinas.
“Some private marinas have seen this as a threat to business,” he said.
In many instances, marinas have a small number of transient slips, which could be listed on Dockshare to fill open time slots.
“We’re hoping that we can build partnerships with marinas and not have them look at us as a threat,” he said. “It’s more of just expanding boating overall.”
Young said Dockshare is a safe and secure mobile-friendly platform available for varying types of watercraft.
“We’re hoping new boaters in 2021 don’t know the boating world without Dockshare,” he said. “Once you get exposed to the water you never turn back.”
Young also hopes to work with nonprofit agencies to expose inner city youth to recreational watersports.
“That’s what we’re about, is making boating accessible to all,” he said. “We’re trying to appeal to the millennial generation.”
As the summer continues, Young said the 10-member Dockshare team would continue to chart progress and be prepared to pivot quickly as demand dictates.
“That’s been kind of fun just trying to prepare for what’s next,” he said. “It’s a bit of an adventure.”
To learn more about Dockshare visit https://dockshare.app.