A lot of people daydream about sailing around the world, Deb wants to make that a reality for more folks.
Running a racing yacht crew is perfect preparation for running a startup. That’s exactly what Deb Dalziel has set out to do with her startup MySail. While traditional sailboats may not be the first thing you think of when you think ‘tech’, there’s actually a lot of tech innovation ready and waiting for champions in this space. MySail have identified a clear and strong demand for logistic help in the yacht racing arena and is on course to cross the finish line with an awesome solution for her seafaring community. We asked about the journey so far.
What’s the problem you decided to address with your startup?
As a passionate sailor, I spend a lot of time out on the water racing on various yachts around Sydney harbour. A recurring issue for many racing yachts is getting their crew sorted. Many yacht owners or crew managers spend countless hours trying to organise their racing crew through spreadsheets, phone, text, and email, often having to follow-up with crew constantly to find out who will be there on race day. Many yachts also find themselves short crew and have trouble finding the right people to join their team. For experienced sailors who are in high demand, keeping track of their race schedule can be a headache, and for new sailors, it’s often not easy to find yachts to race on.
My vision for MySail is to create a tool that will eliminate all of these hassles so yacht owners, managers, and their crew can focus on sailing.
What was the ‘ah ha’ moment that you realised you needed to do this?
I had the idea for quite a while before I really started to do anything with it. At first, I talked to friends both inside and outside the sailing community about the idea. Through this, I got a lot of ideas and positive feedback, especially from people in the sailing community, who have really felt these challenges first hand. I decided the concept was worth exploring further so created a short survey that I sent out through my local yacht club to see if this was a problem that existed beyond my immediate circle. The results from that were really positive, and I had a lot of people who picked up on the idea and shared the survey to other clubs, which helped achieve more responses. It was after this that I really felt I was onto something.
When did you realise you didn’t want to go it alone?
I always knew I wanted to have more people involved than just me. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and for moral support is invaluable. At first I went in search of a tech co-founder to balance out my marketing and business skills, but I didn’t find anyone who I felt had the skills and was as passionate as I am. It was important to me that if I joined forces with someone in the early days, that they had as much passion and drive as I do, otherwise I didn’t think the relationship would work. A friend and adviser suggested I talk to BlueChilli to fill the technical skills and advisor role, rather than try and find a co-founder.
What’s your super power as a founder?
Coming from Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada), my first introduction to Sydney harbour was actually by yacht on a lovely summer’s afternoon in the summer of 2010. I had jumped on a 40ft yacht in Whangarei, New Zealand and spent 10 days sailing across the Tasman – it was a great way to start my new life in Australia!
I think also the fact that I have been involved in sailing and the local yachting community for quite a while really helps me understand the challenges people face. I have sailed on quite a few different yachts at different levels, which has provided a broad view of the different challenges and requirements across the yachting community.
What’s one way you see your startup influencing the future?
I really hope to get more people involved in sailing.
I know there are heaps of people who are interested, but just don’t know where or how to start. The yachting community needs lots of trained crew in order for yachts to be able to race, and lots of yachts are happy to help passionate and committed people learn; they just need their first foot in the door to get started. I’d also like to make it easier for both experienced crew and yacht owners to accomplish their sailing goals – so looking how MySail can support them in this.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far as a startup founder?
I guess it’s not really surprising, but the amount of different things I have and need to learn/know to set-up the businesses is really ming boggling. I am very enthusiastic to get my great idea out the door so people can start using it, but of course there are a lot of things that need to happen to set up a business and build a great product. Everything always takes three times longer than I would like, so realising this and being realistic with time expectations is important.