By Jazmin Decker
This past Memorial Day Weekend, an opening for a new smartphone app that provides boat ride services was launched and has set sail in a positive direction. Anchor Charter Services is a pier-to-pier boat charter service that provides water transportation from one location on the lake to the next. Zach Hatraf, the creator and CEO of Anchor Charter Services, stated that the company has already had about 1,200 app downloads, 600 trip requests, and has been able to fulfill around 50% of the total ride requests so far. The reason for only being able to fulfill around 50% of the requests is because about a week into the application launch, a tornado touched down and knocked down power lines, ultimately knocking out all the data service in the area. After moving past the tornado situation, they have had 100% good feedback and are constantly working towards improving the app. Anchor Charter Services launched the application with intention to learn from their mistakes and improve the app in order to create the safest and most convenient boating assistance as possible.
The concept of this business originated around eleven years ago after a dear friend of Zach’s died during a drunk boating accident. He knew that something had to be done about the safety of those on and around the lake. Hatraf started “Who’s Your Captain, LLC.”, a company that provides boaters with a USCG licensed captain for hire for any boating experience that the customer needs. After about four and a half years, the company was sold and he started accumulating ideas for this new application. “The biggest problem with “Who’s Your Captain, LLC.” was the manual labor of contacting over the phone with customer service in order to hire a captain for your boat. The only way to expand the business was to hire in more people for the customer service aspect. Now that technology has so many new advances, it’s a lot easier to track where people are located, track the boats near the customers, and see where the overall need is for those around the area.”
“If you would like to get on the water, you just have to download the app for free, fill out your name and the basic information like where you need to be picked up from, what kind of boat you would like to be picked up by, and essentially how many people are needing to be picked up at the time, and then in five minutes you’re able to select a boat to pick you up. It’s that simple!” he stated. At the moment, the company is trying to alter the price of each ride to make it more favorable towards the bigger groups or those traveling a longer distance, but for right now the average one-way trip is around $150-$180. Of course, the ride is cheaper per person when you have a larger group, but Anchor Charter Services tries to make the ride affordable and safe for those who are in need of service.
The ultimate success of the business is attributed to the overall need in the marketplace. The options before Anchor Charter Services were prehistoric and they haven’t changed much over the past forty years besides the variety of the specific boats provided. There’s been a gap in the marketplace and there is a definite want and need for a new service. Anchor Charter currently has around seventy drivers and twenty of them have already made their boat payment for the month. A plethora of the drivers have been able to make around $1,000 a day just by providing their services as a driver. Not all of the drivers have their own boats to provide as well. If the company comes in contact with a great boat operator, then they are able to pair these operators with a partner or a boat can be provided to them with the boats they currently have available until that driver is able to save up money for their own boat.
Over the next few years, Hatraf plans to expand the services so that a customer may be able to preplan a ride for the next two hours, two days, two weeks, or whatever it may be. He also plans to someday provide a traditional charter experience for the entire day where the customer can customize their offerings and specify what their needs are for their trip. For example, if a customer is in need of a sunset cruise one day with on deck music and champagne, then Anchor Charter will find a driver for them who would be able to provide them with that specific service. Currently, Hatraf is attempting to search for additional investors and funders who are willing to assist with growing this company and providing a broader experience for the groups and individuals in need.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal for Hatraf and his wife is to leave a legacy not only for his buddy Stuball who was killed in the accident, but also for his family and for anyone else who has been impacted by a drunk boating experience in one way or another. Anchor Charter Services plans on not only assisting in recreational fun and entertainment, but also improving the safety aspect of the lake as well. “Money, to us, is only a biproduct of providing value and impact for the better of the world. Being an entrepreneur is not all glamour. It’s very difficult working 100+ hours a week, but I will stop at nothing to be successful because ultimately making $1 for yourself and overseeing your own company feels so much better than making $100 for someone else.”
“The goal of this company is to impact the world and assist in making it a safer place one day at a time. I’m excited to see where this company goes and we’ll hopefully be expanding our services to other lakes around the United States very soon.”