Thursday, 07 April 2016
Neil Chapman: Boatshed Founder

So we’re already March and the UK’s warming up. I was very fortunate to be asked by National Association of Marine Industries (ANEN), to attend their annual conference in Barcelona.

Boatshed recently joined the ANEN organisation to help expand Boatshed’s network of yacht brokers in Spain. Boatshed are long term members and great advocates of the British Marine Federation and through British Marine’s network of marine contacts I’ve been able to greatly enhance the Boatshed offering and grow the Boatshed group.

Therefore, my mission with ANEN has been to look at ways we can gain extra traction for the Boatshed organisation but also learn more about the Spanish marine market. Anyhow, I was invited to attend the event and despite my extremely rusty Spanish, I spoke at the event, not only at the conference itself but to a variety of companies and individuals about Boatshed and also about the bigger opportunities for Spain.

The specific focus was on technology and how technology is affecting the marine business, so as you can imagine, it was right up my street and I not only found it very, very interesting, but also as a subject close to my heart I was able to hopefully shed some light on current trends and also introduce some new ideas to the conference.

My utilisation of my very crude Spanish and Spanglish, as I prefer to call it, was aided particularly during the conference itself by Google translate. It’s worthy of note that with a decent internet connection and a Google translate App that whilst looking at the various PowerPoints and presentations the App gives you a good impression of what’s going on.

You do have to approach what the App translates with some caution, however, and treat it very much as a guide to what’s being said rather than a real actual full translation of fact. A classic example would be when the minister of Spanish tourism was speaking it reported that, “Klingons had landed and that rhubarb was increasing in price despite excellent growing conditions for palm trees.” With this in mind, whether I got the full value from some of the presentations I’m not sure and apologise to some of the speakers if I appeared slightly alarmed in what they were saying.

There was an excellent formal dinner at the OneOcean Marina Club in Barcelona and the organisers were careful to sit me at a table with some English speakers. I say some as there was a very patient lady from a Spanish boat registration company, who, having sat by me for the evening, we both proceeded to use our smart phones to tap sentences into Google translate. Given a little bit of patience and lots of smiling, giggling and hand movements this enabled not only for us to get a good understanding of each other’s respective businesses but also to exchange business cards and hopefully do some business in the future. Do remember in situations like this to type the phrases and not try to speak directly into the App, as when I tried this it caused confusion with other members of non-English speaking people at the table. Again, apologies for those involved if I offended anyone.

Florida, Citi bikes and Boats

After my two day sojourn in Barcelona I flew to Miami to meet up with some potential partners before Boatshed in Florida, again, the lines between work and play are blurred and the rest of the Boatshed team seem unwilling to give me much sympathy when I talk about (at our HQ team Google Hangout meeting) the fact that it’s 80 degrees.

I’m also attending the Palm Beach Boat Show and meeting a number of individuals there to discuss potential technical partnerships. It is interesting both in the US and in Spain the growth of new technical companies offering apps with very cool boat weather forecasting integration through to marina booking facilities and service management booking tools.

We will be reviewing some of these apps shortly, watch this space. At Palm Beach Boat Show we met with representative from SeaKeepers Society. Boatshed feel that SeaKeepers would be ideal ambassadors to talk more to potential boating organisations and owners, not only in the UK but across Europe. We look forward to working with the organisation to see if they can grow exposure for the brilliant work that they already do.

Following the boat show, we met with Nathan from The Boat Yard application, which allows boat owners to more easily order specific services and supplies for their craft and this app is already gaining popularity and interest in the US. Boatshed are keen to develop ideas with the Boat Yard on potential collaboration. Watch this space.

After an exhausting day looking at lots of boats and lots of interesting cars, it was back on the plane and back to Boatshed HQ in Gosport to focus on some of the exciting things that Boatshed are up to in spring over on this side of the water.

Neil Chapman: Founder of

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