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Innovating the Waves: How Two Entrepreneurs are Changing the Boating Industry

Updated: Jun 10


In the world of entrepreneurship, where bold ideas ignite transformative change, Joanna Martel and Daniela Medina stand as beacons of innovation and resilience. As the founders of dockaboat, they are revolutionizing the boating industry. Their journey from fashion industry mavens to pioneering tech entrepreneurs exemplifies a remarkable transition driven by a deep commitment to creativity and sustainable solutions.


Their narrative is a testament to the power of visionary thinking and the importance of embracing change. As we unpack their story, we find not only the blueprint of successful business innovation but also a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere.


What sparked your interest in entrepreneurship, and how did your background or early experiences contribute to your decision to become founders?


Our entrepreneurial journey began 8 years ago, fueled by a passion for creativity. It started with a clothing brand that quickly caught people's attention. Our aspirations grew when we took charge of the fashion department at 360spaces, where we were more than just designers—we became strategists helping startups navigate the complex fashion industry.


Our expertise began with fashion, but soon, we were helping larger, diverse companies craft their strategies, showing us the powerful impact of thoughtful, innovative business solutions. Realizing we could offer more, we founded our own agency. We learned valuable lessons about what it takes to succeed. These insights became the foundation of dockaboat. 


This move was more than a business decision; it was a commitment to lead and innovate, using our entire journey as a blueprint. We launched dockaboat not just to participate in the industry but to reshape it, driven by a relentless desire to bring out the best in every project and every client we encounter. This is the essence of why we became entrepreneurs: to make a meaningful difference, drive innovation, and excel at bringing creative ideas to life across all sectors.


Reflecting on your journey, what has been the most significant personal growth you’ve experienced as entrepreneurs?


The development of resilience and adaptability. Navigating the ups and downs of various industries, especially in the volatile world of startups, has taught us how to stay resilient in facing challenges and uncertainties. 


Moreover, our roles have required us to continuously learn and evolve—not just in our skills and business strategies but also in our leadership abilities. Managing diverse teams and meeting the needs of different clients has enhanced our empathy and communication skills, which are crucial for fostering a positive work environment and building strong, enduring relationships. This growth in emotional intelligence has been invaluable, not only in driving business success but in enriching our personal lives as well.


We've learned that entrepreneurship is as much about personal development as it is about business achievement. The journey has transformed us, making us not just better business leaders but more rounded and resilient individuals.


What initially inspired you to enter the boating industry, and how did that lead to the creation of dockaboat?


Our journey into the boating industry started as a side hustle in Miami, where we chartered boats to meet the growing local demand. This venture quickly exposed us to significant issues in the local boating infrastructure: the scarcity of affordable marinas, extremely long waitlists sometimes lasting up to 25 years, and private marinas exploiting these conditions by charging high fees.


After selling our stake in the charter business, we noticed how many private docks were unused around Miami. This observation sparked an idea: what if we could connect boat owners with these underutilized private docks?


From this idea, dockaboat was born. Our service aimed to simplify the process of finding and booking a dock, much like finding a vacation rental online. By utilizing private docks, we hoped to alleviate the marina shortage, reduce wait times, and offer a more cost-effective docking solution. dockaboat was designed to make boating more accessible and efficient, transforming how people travel and access docks.


Looking forward, what personal achievements or milestones are you both aiming for, both within and outside of dockaboat?


Within dockaboat:


Expansion

We aim to expand dockaboat's services to new locations, targeting coastal cities where marina shortages are prominent. We're particularly focused on integrating more advanced technology to streamline the booking and management processes, making them even more user-friendly.


Sustainability Initiatives

A key part of our sustainability strategy is leveraging private docks to significantly reduce the need for new marina construction, which often disrupts marine ecosystems. By utilizing existing infrastructure, we not only help preserve the natural coastal environment but also assist homeowners in turning their underused docks into valuable assets.


Community Building

We're passionate about enhancing the boating experience by encouraging boaters to explore beyond their local waters. By facilitating connections among boaters on similar journeys, we aim to foster a community where members can share routes, experiences, and advice, thus creating new loops and travel opportunities that redefine boating as a way to explore and connect.


Outside of Dockaboat:


Personal Development

We are both committed to continuous learning. This includes pursuing further education in fields related to our business, such as maritime law, environmental science, and technology. We believe that enhancing our expertise in these areas can significantly impact our business operations and innovation capacity.


Philanthropy

We plan to set up a foundation that supports marine conservation and provides scholarships to students pursuing maritime careers. 


Work-Life Balance

We aim to manage our time better to pursue personal interests, travel, and spend more quality time with family. These activities not only recharge us but also inspire creativity to foster new ideas.


Were there any entrepreneurs or leaders who particularly inspired you when you were considering starting your own company?


Our inspiration to start our own company came from the many founders we've met through our agency. We were also deeply influenced by the technologies we've used, from new startups to major players. But more than anything, our mentors and families gave us the support and belief we needed to take the leap.


The real push, though, came from our partnership. As women founders, tackling every challenge together really built our confidence. Knowing we could rely on each other made us brave enough to start dockaboat. It showed us how powerful a strong partnership can be in turning any vision into reality.


What has been the biggest challenge so far that you have encountered?


Navigating the investor ecosystem has been our biggest challenge so far, especially in a year that has been particularly tough for raising capital. Many investment funds are themselves struggling to raise money, which has significantly tightened available capital. This scarcity leaves us with no other option but to continue bootstrapping our growth.

Moreover, the enormous wave of interest and investment in AI technology has overshadowed many other industries.


From this experience, we've learned that sometimes it's better to grow slowly using our own funds while building connections. Chasing investment can often lead to neglecting day-to-day business operations, which are vital for long-term success while also taking a toll on your mental health. The key is to start generating revenue with your business; focus on that, and the rest will follow.


What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs looking to become a founder?

Here’s some heartfelt advice for women stepping into the role of founder:


Trust Your Vision

Hold onto your convictions and be ready to back your ideas with passion. Your belief in your vision is your north star—let it guide you.


Connect Deeply

Relationships are everything. Build a network not just for business advantages but for support and friendship. Reach out to others who inspire you, and don’t be shy to ask for advice.


Keep Learning

The world is always changing and there's always something new to understand. Stay curious and eager to learn; it’ll help you adapt and innovate.


Stay Resilient

Expect challenges and face them head-on. Every setback is a setup for a comeback. Resilience will carry you through tough times.


Choose the Right Partners

If you’re thinking of a co-founder or a team, pick people who align with your values and vision. You need partners who will stand strong during storms and successes.


Find Mentors

Look for guidance from those who’ve been where you aspire to go. Their wisdom can be a guiding light, helping you navigate through complexities with more confidence.


Take Risks

Avoid controlling every aspect of the business and learn to take risks. When you fail, because you will, you’ll be stronger every time. It’s our M.O. as women to play it safe, so our advice is don’t—not so much, at least.


Take Care of Yourself

It’s easy to get lost in the hustle. Remember to pause, breathe, and take care of your well-being. Your health is as important as any business meeting.


What motivates you?


What deeply motivates us is the chance to connect with and empower others genuinely. Being part of someone's journey—whether by offering insights that solve a problem, providing guidance that sparks a decision, or simply being a reliable source of support—gives our role profound meaning. We are driven by the idea that each interaction has the potential to leave a positive imprint on someone's life, helping them move forward with a bit more confidence or clarity. This sense of purpose, to facilitate growth and understanding, fuels our dedication to being as helpful and impactful as possible in each moment.

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