Yachtmama yearns to be mother of Web sales sites

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					3/14/12                     Yachtmama yearns to be mother of Web sales sites - Milwaukee - The Business Journal

    From the The Business Journal:

    Yachtmama yearns to be mother of Web sales sites
    The Business Journal by David Schuyler

    Date: Sunday, September 8, 2002, 11:00pm CDT

    The genesis of Yachtmama.com L.L.C. can be attributed to a chance meeting on Okauchee Lake between two men who had
    more in common than their interest in watersports.

    Both are ex-servicemen, former Navy officer Aaron Kelly and ex-Marine Jack Schaefer, and both have marketing
    backgrounds. Both men have also operated Internet businesses in the past. Their firm, an online boat marketing service,
    represents the fusion of their interests and experience.

    Managing partner Kelly credits the idea for the company to a representative of a yacht manufacturer in Florida whom Kelly
    knew while serving as a crew member on one of his yachts. The representative, Craig Tafoya, a broker and manager for
    Fraser Yachts Worldwide, wondered why there was no centralized database of yachts for sale on the Internet.

    Kelly linked up with Schaefer and sailed with the idea, launching Yachtmama.com, an online yacht brokerage, on Nov. 1,
    2001. The name itself addresses one of the startup's biggest challenges � establishing a brand.

    "It really means nothing," Kelly says of the name. "It's brand recognition. It's something that sticks in the mind."

    After considering domains like yachts. com or other obvious choices, Kelly and Schaefer went with a memorable, attention-
    getting moniker in the Internet tradition of Yahoo and Monster.

    The self-funded Yachtmama.com is now approaching 90 percent of its first-year revenue target, which Kelly declined to
    disclose. A group of three minor business partners in Chicago handle maintenance of the Web site.

    Kelly says Yachtmama.com is a brokerage service offering a centralized database of yachts and watercraft for sale, offered
    by one broker, at one price. Other yacht brokerage services often have duplicate listings of a single yacht by different
    brokers offering the boat at different prices. That system creates confusion, Kelly says.

    Yachtmama's service allows brokers to post boat information, including photos, size, type, price and manufacturer.

    A search engine categorizes each listing, allowing potential buyers to search for a boat based on their preferences.

    The site now lists nearly 700 boats and personal watercraft for sale. Yachtmama earns a fee from brokers for the listings,
    which Kelly declined to disclose.

    Kelly and Schaefer have also entered partnerships with insurance companies and finance firms, so that buyers can locate,
    finance and insure a boat from a single service, Kelly says. The site also features links to information on yacht shows,
    charters, and employment for yacht crews.

    2 million visitors

    The Web site accepts advertising from yacht charter companies and manufacturers promoting their brands of boats.

    To date, the Web site has logged about 2 million visitors, Kelly says. The Yacht-mama.com site has been recognized by a
    Web information firm, Alexa Internet Inc., as the second most-visited site in the yacht brokerage industry. It ranks behind
    Yachtworld.com, a 7-year-old site backed by $30 million in venture capital.

    Yachtmama markets its yachts in a hands-on format that reduces the workload for Yachtmama because the brokers
    themselves handle management of the listings. If a boat is sold or taken off the market, the broker pulls the listing.

    As a result, Kelly and Schaefer usually aren't privy to the transactions that are completed as a result of their online service.
    Listings appear on the Yacht-mama.com site or in the pages of national magazines, where the company takes out multiple-

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3/14/12                     Yachtmama yearns to be mother of Web sales sites - Milwaukee - The Business Journal

    page ads with boat listings.

    As an online service, Yachtmama.com can be based anywhere, says Kelly. Milwaukee just happens to be where he and his
    family live.

    Originally from Connecticut, Kelly moved here about seven years ago after serving as a crew member on several yachts in
    the Caribbean. Kelly now works out of his Bay View home, but is searching for a small office in downtown Milwaukee.
    Schaefer performs a great deal of the firm's marketing from an office in New York City.

    Kelly, 28, worked sales jobs at Laacke & Joys Co. and other Milwaukee-area retailers. He also started and ran his own Web
    development company, WOW Interactive, where he developed an electronic catalog for a local True Value store, he says.

    Water ski meeting

    Kelly and Schaefer met on a boat while water-skiing on Okauchee Lake about four years ago. At the time, Kelly was mulling
    over the idea for what would become Yachtmama.com and pitched it to Schaefer, who liked what he heard.

    Schaefer, 28, is the chief marketing person for Yachtmama. He is a former Marine who studied electronic marketing and
    Web design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at Cappella University, an online university based in Minneapolis.
    His previous business venture includes running a military chat network called Semper.com.

    Schaefer's father is William Schaefer, one of the original angel investors in the now-public Quotesmith.com Corp., an online
    provider of insurance quotes and services.

    Schaefer attributes Yachtmama's growth thus far to an aggressive marketing and sales campaign. The campaign includes
    multiple-page ads in the slick magazines like Billionaire and Millionaire. Yachtmama's ads feature photos and additional
    advertising from boat manufacturers.

    Brokers pay a fee to be listed in those ads � fees which more than defray the production costs to Yachtmama, Kelly says.

    One major advantage that both Schaefer and Kelly see in their company is the stability of its market. The yacht marketplace,
    particularly for large yachts of more than 100 feet in length, is fairly impervious to the ups and downs of the U.S. stock
    market, Kelly says. Those boats cater to the very rich, who always have money, and to an international market that isn't as
    affected by the whims of the New York Stock Exchange.

    Schaefer and Kelly see continued growth for Yachtmama.com, with increasing listings, and more business partnerships to
    serve insurance and financing needs of buyers.

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