We are thrilled to introduce you interview with businessman Vadim Efvstaviev. He will talk about Croatia, yachts, sea and, of course, about business.
Hi Vadim. How are you? Fine.
Where are you from? Odessa, Ukraine.
As I know you are (or was?) an successful entrepreneur from Eastern Europe, Ukraine. Please tell in a few words about your career in a big business. 20 years of project management in FMCG — full of stress — and now I’m here. That’s a reason to answer “Fine” for your first question.
Why did you decide to change a country? Why Croatia? A lot of reasons — nature, sea, sun, people, wind — here are the place where you can feel quite comfortable and at the same moment — you can make business in nautical sector.
Tell us about your first yachting experience? Greece, July, Nord wind 45−48 knots between Serifos and Kythnos — and absolut feeling of freedom.
Do you have some interesting and extraordinary histories with yachting? Please share most emotional own stories with our readers. May 2010, Ionian Sea, Greece — one boat with students from sailing school grounded the boat on the rock field. Whole night was fighting with wind, waves, rocks — and only next morning they free the boat with help of other two boats under the supervising of Coast guard. We met them next day in marina, and ask — how did you get there? This place has marks about rocks on all maps. They said — they didn’t see it on their map, and show me… the touristic map of the island, where you can see roads, hotels and beaches has umbrella sings, and sea — is just blue area without any marks…
About Under the Heavens charter
Please tell us a history of your company. When it began, how your fleet was growing up? We started in November 2014 — just with an idea. Than — market research, calculations, business-planning, meetings and negotiation with shipyards and banks — everything like in order to the preparation of the regular industrial project, nothing special. In 2015 we registered the company, in 2016 we’ve started with 2 boats — now we have 13, will be 20 or more next year.
Please make review of Dufour grand large 560 2017 year. I know that it is a flagman of your fleet. Why did you decide to buy this boats? Dufour 56 exclusive is the excellent cruiser, with many options which can make pleasure for customers during the sailing. Shipyard shows us most friendly relationships — we were at the shipyard, meet the owner, his team — engineers, designers, production management — and this simple way of normal conversation gave us a possibility to understand more details in this — new for us — business. Let’s say — it was one of the companies, who believe in our project and not start laughing after my simple request — “I'm from Ukraine — sell me 5 big boats — and give me good discount”.
Don’t leave your customer alone with his problem (and problem can appear at any moment — this is the sea), care about him — and do the best what you can.
Please tell us about manufacturer (Dufour), their factory. Did you visit them during building and did you have an ability to control a process? Yes, you can visit shipyard — and see the boats. Of course — you cannot stay in the workshop over the heads of workers and control everything — but to understand culture and management style — will be enough to visit shipyard and be in contact with management.
As I remember you moved your fleet to marina of Primosten. Why? Do you have some recommendations in this case? It’s magnificent protected natural bay — and excellent technical support what we can have. From the business point of view, it’s a quite convenient place for charter.
Which difference do you see between premium and economic segments of yacht charter market? Level of service — don’t leave your customer alone with his problem (and the problem can appear at any moment — this is the sea), care about him — and do the best what you can. In such case — you can provide better service and be in the premium segment.
What is a primary difference of your company from other charter companies? Do you have some extra propositions, extra services for your customers? We try to minimize “extras” — a lot of things are included in the price. We don’t sell dinghy, outboard engine, towels, coffee, icemaker or WiFi separate — we include everything in the price. You pay once — and you have the good package of service for enjoyable vacation.
Do you have some strange histories about a booking process? Maybe some accidents during check-in or check-out? Paddles. They disappeared all the time. I’m sure — nobody needs it to take home. But paddles always disappeared… Sometimes I think, that paddles have a conspiracy with socks — and somewhere existed the place, where socks and paddles have a party everyday…
Customers rent a yacht for very different purposes: yoga, parties, photo-sessions, practice for skipper’s license, honey trip, etc. What kind of thematic yachting is working in your case?
Sex, Drugs, Rock’n’roll… Sea, wind, waves, sun — all attributes of real Summer.
What’re your plans for next 5 years? Are you going to extend your fleet, services? Yes, we have huge plans — a lot of places where we can start our activity worldwide.
As we know Croatia has around 1300 islands. It gives an excellent opportunity for new yachting experience. Please share your opinion about different yachting destinations. Which are in your priority? Depend of the wind — if Jugo blow — than priority is near Kornati, if Bora — than near Vis and Korčula.
Can you describe most interesting weekly routes for beginners and see-wolfs? For beginners — Vis, Korčula, Hvar, Sibenik. For wolves — Cape Horn, Pitkern, Kerguelen. ;)
Which month can you recommend to visit Croatia and why? For real sailing — April and September. You will have wind and sun. For “mattress sailing” — July and August — you will have no wind and waves and warm sea water.
Which trends do you see at the Mediterranean charter market and Croatia exactly? Fast growing market. My humble opinion — it has to be divided in a few segments — depend of the level of service quality. I’m sure — it will happened soon.
Do you see any perspectives for cabin charter at Croatia? It is popular at non Mediterranean destinations, such as Caribbean region. Yes, it can be attractive — but his product is on the agency side — if they can organize the group of people well — they can make a great product. It’s not about the fleet — it’s about customers relationship in small group and on the very small area.
Catamaran vs Monohull sail yacht. Your humble opinion? Monohull forever. But Cat’s can give more space if you want to make a party.
Sail yacht vs Motorboat. Your humble opinion? Sail, of course. This technology existed 10 000 years — and will be in the future as well.
Which manufacturer and model of yacht do you prefer? Please describe why. That one who can sell me the good boat with the good attractive price. If we speak about poetical feelings — mostly best boat models are in the past — business and poetry can’t be together.
Monohull forever. But Cat’s can give more space if you want to make a party.
Many yachtsmen are discussing at different forums an idea of yacht sharing — an ability to aggregate small companies of tourists to the whole crew and 1 booking (for example 4 + 4). Another is discussing an idea of AB yachting (to share a cabin from point A to point B during private yachting). What’s your opinion about these ideas? I don’t know really. It’s not about boats — it’s about human relationship. Looks like now people can do it together with other people much easier than before — and doesn’t matter — it will be flat, car or boat.
Also, we met ideas of the aqua hotel: an ability to rent a yacht for the living instead of hotel or villa. How do you think, is it a real business model and are you interested in such kind of rents? We have such idea from the beginning. Now the question — how to make such business with all rules which existed — it’s pretty hard paperwork, to start such project.
And in the end, finally, your own stand up for our readers. Our first boat just arrived. First night at the marina. After midnight I came on board to check it. And — I found few liters of water inside, near the bilge pump. Short panic, what will be tomorrow? I will come — and see only the top of the mast over the water? I called to all my colleagues — but nobody answer. Then — after 30 minutes — one experienced skipper replied: — Put your finger into the water. After — into your mouth. Saltwater? — No. — Go to sleep, good night.
Thank you for your time and shared experience! See you at ICE at Zagreb.