Sailo, the #1 boat rental and yacht charter platform, connects boat owners, charter companies, and renters on a seamless, secure and easy to use platform. In this interview, we are talking to Adrian Gradinaru, Founder and CEO of Sailo, about the origin of the brand name, how did they get the domain Sailo.com, how important is the presence of their brand online and much more.
Adrian, you are the founder & CEO of Sailo. For those who don’t know yet, what does your company do and how was the idea born?
Sailo is the global boat rentals and yacht charters online platform where people can search and book over 30,000 verified boats. Our users can search by location, number of guests, type and size of boat, price, and other relevant criteria, and they can communicate with the boat operator directly through the Sailo platform.
We are headquartered in New York and we offer thousands of sailboats, motor yachts, catamarans and party boats all over the world, from US (Florida, California, New York and The Hamptons), to the Mediteranean (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Spain, and France), the Caribbean (Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, and the French Antilles), SouthEast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia), and Australia.
The idea for the company came from a personal frustration with the typical boat rental process. I become passionate about sailing and boating during my time in Silicon Valley, and after moving to New York where I did not have friends with boats, I found the process of renting a boat to be a huge hassle: fragmented supply, no price transparency, mostly offline. I realized that I had a unique opportunity to change that into a much more enjoyable and streamlined booking experience, and bring the joy of sailing and boating to many more people who were frustrated with the status quo.
That’s how Sailo started and we continue to have the same mission to make the world’s boating experiences easy and accessible to everyone.
Why did you originally decide to brand your company under the name “Sailo”, were there any other names you were considering?
Choosing Sailo as the brand name was an interesting exercise. I was looking for something unique, short, easy to remember, friendly, and relevant to our business. Ideally, I also wanted the domain name to be available and that’s not easy to find these days. Anyone who has gone through this exercise knows that most domain names that represent a word or are close to the spelling of a word are taken — and usually parked waiting for a buyer. I considered a few other names but I settled pretty quickly on Sailo because it had all the things that I was looking for in a brand name.
Your business is run on a short and memorable domain name. How did you come to select the name and why has that been so important to your business?
The brand name is the first contact point with our customers and it has to reflect our vision, be relevant and instantly recognizable. From the beginning, I wanted a name that was unique, meaningful and would help us build the right brand image in our customers’ minds.
I was only considering options that were up to 8 letters — but the shorter the better. For example, sailing.com is short and memorable however it is too general and encompasses much more than boat rentals to be relevant for our brand proposition. I also wanted to stay away from word combinations like “sailtime” or “onlineboat” as I felt that a one-word brand is more powerful. From playing around with sailing and sailor, “Sailo” was the winner as a friendly and memorable brand name. The only drawback was that for some Sailo might sound exclusive to sailing and sailboats, while we rent all types of boats. However, I decided to go with it, knowing that as the brand becomes more established it won’t be a problem anymore (which actually happened).
Did you start off with the exact brand match domain name Sailo.com or was it an upgrade from a previous name/domain extension?
At the time of our official launch, Sailo.com was not available. The domain was parked (it was bought, but it wasn’t used) and my plan was to keep an eye on it and buy it as soon as it becomes available. The .com extension gives the brand more credibility and it’s easier for people to remember so we started with sailo.co and after about 1 year we acquired sailo.com.
What was the best and worst part about the process of acquiring the domain Sailo.com?
The best part was that it became available for sale. We kind of assumed that from the beginning and luckily we were right. The worst part was that we didn’t know whom were we dealing with on the other side, what was the asking price, and on what platform could we buy it. At some point it was listed for a few hundred dollars on an auction site but then removed, then it showed up on another site, this time seemingly through a broker for a lot more money. Ultimately we were able to buy it for an amount we were comfortable with. That was a great win and a cause for celebration for our team.
If you could have any domain name in the world would you still pick Sailo.com?
Yes, I would still pick Sailo because it is the perfect fit for what we are doing. We all feel, and our customers confirmed that it’s a great name, easy to recall and connect to, just like our team and our mission.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
Over the last 4 years, we have had a few minor pivots but our main goal remains the same: make the world’s boating experiences easy and accessible to everyone.
One of our pivots was to drop the renter option to choose a specific captain from a list of licensed captains available in the boat rental area. Based on customer feedback we decided to simplify this step, by giving our users the option to hire a captain that has been already verified and approved by our team or bring their own. A lot of our boats have captains included, and for the rest, there is always a captain available if needed.
We also came up with innovative features to respond to market demand and improve our users experience with the platform:
● offer the option for the renter to reserve a boat for free for 24 hours for weekly bookings. Renting a boat for a week takes more time and may involve more people compared to daily bookings. The Sailo feature is unique on the market allows the user more time to make the right decision.
● create a proprietary boating group and event management tool that enables event planners and private individuals to organize events on boats, sell tickets, manage guests and payments, all in one place on Sailo platform. The tool is fully customizable and editable by the event creator.
Your mission is to make boating friendly and achievable for all, how important is the presence of your brand online? What plays the most important role in people finding you on the web?
The old days when people were going to the marina to rent a boat are over. People are now renting houses, cars and boats online and our priority is for the potential renters to find us on the web and also as a mobile app.
Content marketing plays a big role in how people find us online and our main growth objective is to increase our brand recognition and visibility by creating valuable content about boating, sailing vacations, sailing destinations, itineraries.
Sailo’s marketing mix include SEM, SEO, social media, partnerships and referral programs.
Do you think that buying the right domain name should be a priority for startups?
As so many .com domain names are already taken, finding a name for your brand and the corresponding domain can be challenging. Nevertheless, I think it’s important from the very beginning to choose a name that is memorable, unique, and represents your brand, even if the .com domain is not available. My advice is to find a brand name that you like and has a reasonable domain extension available (.co, .us, .io, etc) and then concentrate on building the product. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the .com availability. Your product builds the brand and if your product is great people will use it, and in time you may be able to buy the exact domain name that you want.
What’s the next milestone for Sailo, what is the biggest thing your team is working on right now?
My number one focus is to become the leading boat rentals and yacht charters online platform and continue to build and nurture an amazing worldwide community of people sharing their passion for boating.
We are currently working to add more features for our customers, both renters and boat owners. From building custom renter experiences and offering more payment options, to making the management of bookings easier, and enhancing the communication process between renters and boat owners, my team focuses on providing an optimized user experience while improving engagement, conversions, and revenue.
Another important project we are working on is to revamp our iOS mobile app to include a lot of improvements and new features that can be found only on our website at this time. Next big project — the launch of Sailo Android app!
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade. We are always happy to hear from you.
Find out more about Sailo.com
Written by: Kristina Mišić