France's best startup digs #1: BeMyBoat


It’s Friday, so let’s get out of Paris. The first winner of our weekly French office contest is BeMyBoat, a Nantes-based online yacht charter agency. Their beautiful offices are located on an island in the middle of the Erdre River. Special thanks to Yoann Grange for the great photos, and thanks to the higher powers for such a sunny day for the photo shoot.
Check out an interview with BeMyBoat, and then see a full gallery down below. And remember to post YOUR office’s photos to our Facebook page, and we’ll feature another great French startup next week. (And if you’ve already posted, this doesn’t mean you won’t be selected going forward.)


1) Give us your 30-second elevator pitch.
BeMyBoat is a worldwide online yacht charter agency. We offer more than 4,000 boats (sailboats, motorboats, catamarans) in 150 harbours around the world. We negotiate rates with yacht charters for our clients. We take a 15 % commission on charters (2011 yearly average rate was around 10%). We are working on offering real-time availability on all these 4,000 boats in order to let our clients directly book online without assistance.

If clients don’t have any knowledge of sailing, they can use the service of a skipper. We are a team of 4 and our offices are located in Nantes. We will launch a new version of our website soon. In 2011, we did a € 580,000 turnover which represents a bit less than one booking a day.

2) How does your office space compliment your company culture?
Our offices are really connected to our activity as it is in the middle of the leisure and boating activities neighborhood of Nantes (Erdre River). The neighborhood is really cool and full of services : baker, coffee place, restaurants, supermarkets, art galleries, rawing centers…

We all live close to the office and it allows us to go to work walking, by tram or by bike.
The offices are located above the “capitainerie” (port authority buildings) and it is located on the Île de Versailles, a small island on the Erdre River which is also a public park.

We have 80 square meters separated in two open spaces of 40 square meters. This separation allows us to have a bit more of concentration. It also allows us to have one phone operator in each space and it is way better for both clients and team. It is bright and very luminous inside. It’s quite cold in the winter due to the humidity of the river, and it’s very hot when it’s sunny, but that way we are way more connected to the weather.

The building is made of wood (which is quite rare around here) so it reminds us of being in a boat.

We moved in one month ago and the mood has quite improved since then.

3) What’s the greatest thing about the area/city/town/neighborhood where you work?
First of all, apart from the two main associates, who were friends for a long time, we all met through Atlantic 2.0, which is Nantes’ startup, web & IT companies cluster. These guys make an amazing work to make connections (entrepreneurs, VCs, business angels, mentors, speakers, engineers, developers, coders, designers, thinkers, evangelists, etc…)

Then, the Nantes city hall is also doing a great job to improve Nantes’ presence on the world innovation scene. We are not in the Silicon Valley, that’s for sure, but we feel that’s something is happening.

Also we are not so far from big shipyards in Vendée like Bénéteau or Jeanneau which are the biggest shipbuilders in the world. In addition, it is the birth town of the Trois-mâts Belem and she makes a lot of stopovers around here. Actually, we are preparing L’Apero Du Bateau on march the 15th and people can still participate to the drawing subscribing on before monday the 12th.

We are quite fond of our quality of life!