Sharing Economy

What a Sharing Economy Startup Does to Build Trust in Its Community

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
6 min read

Trust is always important in business, but in the sharing economy, it’s the beginning, middle and end of the story.

“For many people, their boat is their baby, and we know that,” says Adrian Gradinaru, co-founder of New York City-based boat rental marketplace Sailo. Through Sailo, people can rent from anyone who lists their boat on the site and can also hire a licensed captain to charter it. The company’s listings are mainly in South Florida; New York City; the Hamptons; New Jersey; Connecticut; Cape Cod, Mass; Newport, Rhode Island; Los Angeles and San Diego.

One way Sailo has managed to build trust among its community is to physically meet with the boat owners who list on the site. Sailo staff has met with about 85 percent of the 450 boat owners on the platform; the remainder have been spoken to by phone.

“We connect with all the boat owners. We go out and see them and shake their hand,” says Gradinaru, who founded the business in 2014 with fellow Columbia Business School student Delphine Braas, long-time friend Magda Marcu and fellow former Silicon Valley engineer Bogdan Batog. “We are interested in actually building that trust and having those people see us face-to-face and understand what we are all about.”

Related: Sailo Wants to Be Your Airbnb for Yachting

Another way the company has sought to gain the faith of its users is through insurance. Rentals through Sailo come with $1 million in property damage insurance and $2 million in liability insurance, which covers personal injury, negligence and wrongful conduct.

As the company continues to grow, it aims to keep the focus on trust. “If somebody asks us a question about a boat, we know it. We have met the boat owner, we know the things they care about, the things they worry about and that allows us to understand our customers and our suppliers’ needs a lot better,” Gradinaru says.

To learn more about Sailo and how it is developing trust within its community of boat owners and renters, watch the video above.

Related: Airbnb Co-Founder: If Rejection Slows You Down, Entrepreneurship Isn't For You

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