Online boat slip booking company Snag-A-Slip is bringing aboard another company — the maker of a mobile app that focuses on same-day reservations.
Annapolis-based Snag-A-Slip, which offers a platform connecting boaters in need of a place to dock with those who have slips and moorings, acquired Slipsure in a deal that was announced last week. Terms were not disclosed.
Founded by longtime boaters Paul and Sherrie Norton, Chapel Hill, N.C.-based SlipSure built a mobile app that functions like a HotelTonight for boat slip reservations. It allows boaters to view and book slips for docking or mooring instantly, meaning a reservation could be made on the same day or within minutes of tying up.
Snag-A-Slip already had this capability with a number of marinas that were offering books on its platform. The acquisition of a company that built up a directory of marinas and developed technology will “accelerate” its development in that area, said the company’s president, Adam Zilberbaum. Expanding these capabilities that are found on landlubbing on-demand services is important in an industry that is still adopting digital tools.
“Our goal is to make it seamless and instant,” said Zilberbaum, who cofounded Baltimore startup Parking Panda.
The companies got started around the same time in 2015, and often attended the same boat shows and other industry events. Even as they were working in a similar field, they maintained a friendly relationship.
“Over the years, the relationship grew, got better and the conversation advanced,” Zilberbaum said. They started thinking, “Can we move things forward faster together than we can individually?”
With the acquisition, the cofounders of SlipSure will join Snag-A-Slip’s advisory board, and continue to inform the vision and provide input for the company.
It’s the second time over the last couple of years that Snag-A-Slip has grown through acquiring another company, as the 2017 acquisition of boating concierge service Marinalife also expanded the company’s reach.
In a separate addition this year, the company tested a new category of bookable docking spots by offering a way for boaters to communicate with owners of private docks. Zilberbaum said initial results were positive, with five boaters requesting every one booking spot.
The company has also been growing its team of about 20 people, which prompted a move earlier this year from Baltimore’s City Garage to space in Annapolis. That puts it in a sailing capital that hosts a pair of big boat shows annually.
Zilberbaum joined the company in June. As cofounder and CEO of Parking Panda, he led the company that formed out of a Startup Weekend event to help bring an on-demand model to booking parking spots in garages or lots. The company was acquired by SpotHero, its largest competitor, in 2017. After two years, Zilberbaum left SpotHero in April.
Zilberbaum had met Snag-A-Slip founder and CEO Dan Cowens through Towne Park, as Cowens previously worked at the parking service when it signed on Parking Panda. The two stayed in touch, with Zilberbaum getting updates along the way about Snag-A-Slip.
After leaving SpotHero, he visited Snag-A-Slip and was intrigued by similarities between the parking industry in past years, and where the marina industry is now. For one, it’s in the early stages of the phase of digital adoption that’s happened across other industries.
He sees parallels with Parking Panda’s approach in the marketplace model that Snag-A-Slip is bringing to marinas. Still, there are notable differences between the industries. For one, there are a lot more variables when it comes to docking a boat to account for — considerations like the size of the boat and the depth of the water where it’s being kept.
The setting, too, has a bit more to it.
“It’s definitely way nicer walking a marina than it is a parking garage,” he said.-30-
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