#humansofyachting – Gabriella Richardson
The former charter broker recently set up Yachting Ventures to support innovative start-ups in an industry close to her heart.
“I grew up in Mallorca and went to school there. My parents weren’t yachties but lots of my friends’ parents were, so it was a running thread through my childhood. I went to study law at university in the UK, but it made sense to come back to Mallorca for the summers and I ended up doing a few seasons on board as a stewardess. That was how my career in yachting began.
My first experience was on a 30-metre yacht and I still remember being down in the crew mess, where the owner had left a 50-year anniversary book from yacht charter company Burgess. I picked it up and flicked through it and it opened my eyes to this massive industry that I’d only ever really seen from a crew perspective. I’d never had an insight into the fact that there was a whole shore-based side to the industry. I was intrigued.
After university, I ended up joining Camper & Nicholsons as a charter broker, which I loved. I organised a few really memorable trips – a couple of honeymoons, and a charter in the Aeolian Islands for an elderly couple who had their whole family on board, including their grown-up kids. I had more families chartering than anything else – I remember one guy chartered two yachts; one for his family and another for a work colleague and his family in the Bahamas.
During my time at Camper & Nicholsons, I also sat on the board at YPY (Young Professionals in Yachting). Again, it showed me how broad-reaching the superyacht industry was. I met people from insurance, management, design, recruitment, charter, sales and more – it was a good way to understand exactly how everything fit together.
In the back of my mind, I’d always had an interest in start-ups, and after my time at Camper & Nicholsons, the opportunity arose to join SeedLegals, a legal tech start-up. I joined as number 11 but we quickly grew to around 65 people. That was my crash course with the start-up world and it opened my eyes to the degree of investment there is in start-ups. The UK is a particularly active space because it’s very tax efficient to make investments into early-stage companies.
Yachting Ventures is a product of my previous experience in the yachting space and my experience of working with start-ups. It’s a ten-week, online, industry-specific accelerator which is where the trend is going. I saw that there was a gap in the market for people needing help to do good or innovative things in the industry, especially from a tech perspective. I am also an advocate for green initiatives and I am looking to partner with a charity at the moment which would demonstrate that we support that kind of start-up.
We have quite a broad team on board, including Matt Ovenden from Borrow a Boat, who is one of our mentors. He’s a serial entrepreneur now and has raised about £3m through crowdfunding. There’s also Timothy Hamilton who is the director of Lürssen Americas; he previously ran a property start-up so he has the right experience and is a great advocate of innovation in the yachting space. We’ve had about 20 applications since we launched two months ago – and it’s been really interesting to see what’s coming through the door. Lots of them have some form of tech connection. The industry has been so receptive – I’m excited for the future.”