FindaCrew.net is about helping people's dreams come true - linking prospective crew members with yachts all over the globe with the world's largest online boat and crew introduction system that offers ease, convenience and accuracy for all involved.
The Find a Crew team were recently at Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. Here, Kylie Gretener from Find a Crew customer service speaks exclusively with MarineBusiness-World.com about the origins of the site, its global reach and evolution after seven years of phenomenal success.
Based in Mooloolaba - idyllically situated for its unique blend of waterways, canals, beaches and high seas beyond - FindACrew.net has a global presence and 60 international virtual offices.
The Find a Crew journey started 20 years ago when CEO Raffael Gretener, who holds an international yacht master qualification, was working as a delivery skipper. In those days, the ‘Crew Wanted’ sign on the boat method was the best way of attracting new crew. Raffael thought then – years before the internet - there must be a more effective way to find yacht crew. Fast forward to 2004; after selling his shares in a successful engineering company that he co-founded, and completing a Master’s Degree in Technology Management, the marine industry drew him back and the model for Find a Crew was born.
'We started Find a Crew as a global central point of introduction for mariners from all over the world of all walks of life,' says Kylie. We decided to set up a worldwide service that would pre-match data, (working in a similar way to online job services) and link companies and sailors needing crew. From the beginning, the site was designed to cater for all sizes and types of boats, and all associated crew positions, in every country of the world.'
As Kylie explains: 'Find a Crew is the World's largest International Online Marine Crew and Boat Network providing a point of introduction for mariners around the world. We are not a Crew Agency. Our network provides an alternative suited to people who like to make their own decisions about what is best for them in the shortest time possible.' We place very high priority on privacy and security, which has been a big draw card for many larger vessels. They can actually have a ‘silent’ listing which means that only the crew members who they contact can see their profile, putting them always in full control of who they communicate with.
As a result of the interactive online model, Find a Crew can offer free registration, free listing, free searching and free initial contacting. 'We want members to use Find a Crew and be happy with the service before paying any money.
Upgrading to a ‘Premium membership’ allows members to exchange direct contact details with as many matching members as they wish to for the duration of the Premium membership, and continue further communication outside of the Find a Crew network. Paying for a length of time subscription rather than a pay per view gives you more options if the first contact doesn't work out for them.'
It was a leap of faith. Raffael was the site architect, working with software application engineer, Knud Nexo (who is now a partner in the company). As the business grew, Kylie took the role of customer service and marketing. 'When we first went live, we only had to wait a short while, wondering who the first member would be . . . and it was a sailor from Lithuania!'
In less than a year, Find a Crew's unique approach quickly attracted thousands of members from around the world and now, almost seven years on, Find a Crew continues to maintain their leading position within the online marine crew industry. '
Aspiring crew members can find a boat, and all professional, commercial and recreational boaters use the site to logically, find a crew.
Currently, there are 6,295 members listed: 848 boat & 5,447 crew members signed in within the last 45 days. There are 54,530 members registered. Boats and crew hail from every continent, nearly every country, all types of vessel, promising journeys both ambitious - South America to Patagonia and the South Pole, and mundane - although the Caribbean could hardly be considered hum-drum!
'We have filled a niche,' Kylie says. 'The site is interactive and immediate; people can list an opportunity or what they're looking for by themselves. We have guidelines and suggestions, like letting boat companies and captains know that listings with more pictures get a better response, but the rest is up to them. Behind the scenes is a very complex algorithm specifically designed for this industry, which for boat owners and their representatives means that they save a lot of time searching through listings, as the best matches for them are delivered with a single mouse click. And it's very user friendly. 80% of our members come to Find a Crew by word of mouth.'
'It has helped thousands of people to get on the water, find crew for their boats, and introduced the start of many careers, new adventures and friendships,' says Kylie, launching in to colourful tales from members who have travelled the world onboard expeditions, superyachts, charters and more adventurous vessels.
Among their ranks, Brian from Seattle has a tale like no other. Brian, who is part-way in to a three year circumnavigation of the world, is currently cruising up the Queensland coast in his 53ft Selene Ocean Trawler - the first Selene yacht to undertake such a voyage.
'Brian has fallen in love with these boats over the many years he has worked with the company, and had this one purpose built for the journey,' says Kylie. 'We caught up with Brian when he was in Mooloolaba, and after a tour of all the safety features and specific long haul cruising set up, and a friendly afternoon of nibblies on board, it is not hard to imagine going a long way on this beautiful vessel. Brian can sail single handed, but chooses not to, and instead sources all his crew (some experienced and some with none), via Find a Crew.
'He says that what has surprised him the most on this trip is the fantastic people he is meeting, and already has crew lined up for the next 9 months.'
Brian, his Selene and his crew are now exploring the Whitsundays for some diving time.
'He is very passionate about Find a Crew, the boat and the adventure,' adds Kylie. 'He told us he couldn't have done it without Find a Crew. And as for the crew members on board, they are just totally living the dream!'
And there's more in the pipeline for Find a Crew. Based on the success and expertise the Find a Crew team has accumulated over the past seven years, the original founders formed a new company called NAUTYCAL Pty Ltd, under which umbrella Find a Crew belongs as of 1 October 2009, and NAUTYCAL Pty Ltd is the flag ship for other projects and acquisitions, the next of them Find a Harbour, which is online now in beta at www.findaharbour.net
Find a Harbour is an entirely free service to mariners around the world, providing a worldwide directory assisting with information to establish their next destination. 'All information is entered and updated by real people, and anyone can contribute,' says Kylie of the site, adding that the concept is currently 100% sponsored by Find a Crew.
'In the coming years we hope to gain global support from governments, tourism boards and businesses to present their destinations to mariners.'
More at www.findacrew.net