Startups
Sports / Startups / Transportation

This startup makes it easier to get your boat fixed

Mariner Exchange founder Alex Nicholson told us about getting his first customers, prepping for summer and spreading the word via paddleboard.

The Annapolis waterfront. (Historic downtown Annapolis by Steven Frame via Shutterstock)

Growing up in Annapolis and working at Fawcett Boat Repair, Alex Nicholson was familiar with the many details of boating.
While living in New York and looking to change jobs, he drifted back to the water. Nicholson walked up to boaters at marinas in Montauk and asked them about maintenance.
“The same story just kept coming up over and over about how much of a pain it was to find a reliable person to come and fix your boat,” he said.
He found that a big reason behind this is that the industry is fragmented, he said. One company may specialize in fixing engines, which requires certification. Another may do electrical work.
Returning to his hometown of Annapolis, Nicholson launched Mariner Exchange last summer. The app looks to help boaters vet and find marine service companies to do the work they need.
Nicholson compares it to Angie’s List. In addition to details about what’s offered by service providers within a 50-mile radius, the app has reviews, ratings and contact info. There’s also a capability to pay through the app, but that’s optional.

Alex Nicholson talks to a potential user. (Courtesy photo)

Alex Nicholson talks to a potential user. (Courtesy photo)


After launching for iOS, Nicholson set out to grow the user base. He recruited the first 200 service providers to be listed on the app by knocking on doors, and pounding the pavement. To get boaters’ attention he took to the water.
“I spent many a Sunday standing on paddleboard handing out ads for our app,” he said.
Backed by angel funding, the startup has since grown to six people and so has the area it covers. It’s since expanded to the whole Chesapeake Bay region, as well as Florida and New England. Nicholson said the app recently crossed the 10,000-user mark, with 3,000 service companies.
With the time to start getting the boat ready for summer upon us, the app also debuted in Android last week.

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

9 don't-miss events for technologists and entrepreneurs this July

Top 3 vital trends founders should know before pitching investors in 2024

An OpenAI advisor wants to help tech leaders embrace the humanities

Leaders at Baltimore Region Investment Summit praise collaboration and push for equitable growth — EDA funding or not

Technically Media