When Mike Melillo & Matt Fradette first came to Mojotech, it was clear they had a winning concept, but with the summer boating season fast approaching, we knew we had to work fast and furious to ensure that we could build a bullet-proof product that was ready for market.
The end-goal was to create a single platform where marinas and boaters could interact, but we had to choose to focus on one side first and then seamlessly transition to the other. We choose to start with marinas for a number of reasons. Marinas have long aggregated customer information in offline databases, but there was no existing technology to help leverage this information in ways that could optimize marina operations and increase traffic.
Dockwa had the opportunity to be the only service of its kind to offer a unified booking and marketing platform for marinas. Even without boaters on the platform we could provide value to these marinas.
When it came to figuring out the basic infrastructure for the app, we went straight to the source for advice. Our team relished in the opportunity to meet with and chat with several dockmasters in the area, whose advice proved invaluable. By sharing our ideas, asking questions, and testing our assumptions, it became clear that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every marina’s needs and requirements.
We were going to have to determine how to create a system that allowed reservations to come in and be vetted without boxing marinas into a rigid scheme. The product would have to be able to fit various use cases while still providing a flawless user-experience that kept touch points and transactions simple and minimal.
By talking to fellow boaters, Mike and Matt were able to determine that the major pain point for them was the anticipated wait-time and the number of touch points with a marina before the reservation could be booked or confirmed. Boaters typically had to call around to several marinas in an area and wait for a call-back, with the hope that at least one marina could reserve a space fitting the boat’s dimensions. On the day of the reservation, boaters had to radio when they are on their way into the marina to confirm they still had a spot.
Dockwa had the power to expedite the booking process by building the app in a way that does all that leg-work. By keeping the number of touch points with a marina to a minimum, boaters are able to able to easily explore nearby marinas, request a slip or mooring, and receive a confirmation. The Dockwa mantra quickly became "tap, book, dock."
As a fully realized product, Dockwa would be a mobile reservation management app for iOS, and later Android. A web application on the back end would allow marinas to track incoming reservations against their available inventory and communicate with boaters seamlessly. To save valuable time we decided to use Bootstrap design elements so we could focus on keeping the product clean, simple to use, and functional.
Our design team focused on information design (wires for both desktop and mobile) and relied on native iOS components to push forward, while Dockwa’s internal team managed style guides and the design elements for implementation.
Following an agile process we ensured successful team integration by making sure that everyone maintained the same priorities.
It’s the entrepreneurial way to think big and be ambitious, and it’s one of the things we love most about working with soon-to-be-big companies, but with a compressed timeline and a fixed budget, we had to be smart about which features were essential to the success of the product. In collaboration with Mike, we put our heads together to focus on the main value proposition of Dockwa; managing and placing reservations. With a solid foundation in place feature development was a breeze. We built only what mattered for launch and saved advanced features for future iterations.
During the final weeks, Dockwa’s own internal team grew by leaps and bounds, expanding their engineering team, sales team, and financial operations. MojoTech worked closely to transition the product to Dockwa’s outstanding crew and provide final assistance before launching in Nantucket, at Figawi Race Weekend.
Dockwa’s success continued at a rapid pace. One month after launch Dockwa merged with competitor company DockHop. Dockwa has since acquired Marinas.com, the the world’s #1 searchable marina directory, providing boaters with comprehensive intel on more than 75,000 marinas, anchorages and marine locations. By joining forces, Dockwa has boosted their operational efficiencies and solidified their place in the market.
With over 15,000 marinas in more than 30 countries, and 100,000+ boaters around the world, Dockwa’s expanding footprint is taking the marine industry by storm.
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