The Airbnb for the water keeps Romford entrepreneur’s ambitions afloat

PUBLISHED: 15:02 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:02 22 May 2017

Matt Ovenden.

Matt Ovenden.

Chris K Jones 2017

A boating enthusiast whose dream of owning his own vessel was ruined by Brexit has set up the country’s only boat sharing website.

Matt Ovenden was born and raised in Romford and used to sail every weekend with his parents on the Blackwater River in Maldon, Essex.

He wanted to give his own children a similar experience, however the 37-year-old’s plans were sunk when Britain voted to leave the EU and the subsequent sharp change in exchange rates led to investors pulling out of a deal with Matt’s international eco-island business.

“When Brexit happened we lost our investors and it was a big setback because we had quite expensive overhead costs at the time,” said Matt. “These were big island projects so we needed to get funding to get it built.”

Not only did this force Matt to leave the business but it also meant his dream of owning a boat was sailing away from him.

“I was going to buy a boat last year and looked at the cost of ownership and upkeep so when Brexit happened I thought what am I going to do next?

“I started thinking about the industry and how expensive it is to buy a boat and keep it running. The one I was going to buy was six figures.

“I thought ‘this is madness’. You have got millions of pounds’ worth of boats sitting in marinas and there are loads of people that want to go out on a boat but can’t afford to buy one.”

This gave Matt the idea to set up an Airbnb-style company for boats which led to the creation of Borrow A Boat in November.

“Borrow A Boat is the UK’s only peer-to-peer boat sharing website which allows you to borrow and charter boats of all shapes and sizes. We’re following in the footsteps of Airbnb but applying it to boats.”

The company already has 4,000 vessels registered on its website and, more importantly, it has also allowed Matt to take his two young children on boating trips.

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