Jonathan Timianko

How PierShare built an innovative boat docking marketplace

PierShare

PierShare allows individuals to rent out their empty dock spaces and streamline the process of docking a boat.

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What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?

I graduated from NYU with a bachelors/masters in economics and worked in technology and corporate consulting for five years before starting PierShare. While I was a consultant, my family moved from New Jersey to Florida to a house on the water with a dock and no boat. One day a cousin of ours asked us if his friend could rent our dock for his boat, and that he would pay us for it. I had no idea that people kept boats behind other people's houses outside of marinas, so that is what sparked the initial idea for pierShare.


What no code tool(s) did you use to build PierShare and what purpose did each play in the final product?

We used the Bubble programming language to launch PierShare. Bubble allowed us to deploy different versions of our booking/docking system to select groups of customers and get quick and rapid feedback on how those customers were interacting with our product. This rapid iteration and feedback loop allowed us to fine-tune our booking system through time to properly capture the dynamics of what our customers were doing in the real world. Due to the fact that docking a boat is not as logistically simple as booking a flight or a hotel, having a tool to rapidly deploy different versions of our platform quickly and then learn quickly has allowed us to iterate to our core product much faster than would be possible with traditional coding and engineers.


What were the initial costs to get PierShare off the ground?

There were almost no initial costs to getting PierShare off the ground. The biggest cost was my time, but in the beginning our costs were extremely low because we were manually reaching out to people on the water to list their docks on our platform and that didn't cost any money.


What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?

This process was relatively straightforward. We knew for our core MVP we needed to have dock listings, and then rudimentary functionality that would allow a boater viewing the listing to request to dock their boats there. The early days were about throwing up a core MVP and then using manual intervention for each docking in place of features in the platform to keep dockings moving along but also allow us to learn about the core dynamics of the transaction so that we could develop the features properly for the platform. This interplay of throwing up an imperfect product and then manually filling in the gaps and learning in the process is what defines most tech companies in the very beginning.


How do you attract customers?

Most of our customers come to us through organic search/content marketing/blogging. We did a bit of paid target acquisition before we had a blog up but we are very focused on growing our organic search presence. We imagine that there is a huge opportunity to create high quality content for our boater and dock owner customers that both educates them as well as brings them onto the platform as paying customers.


What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building PierShare?

There are an incredible amount of logistical complexities in docking a boat and having a boat docked at a property for an extended period of time. Uncertainties such as weather, tides, bridge openings, as well as individual's personal schedules mean that boats are not docked on a fixed schedule, and there can be high degrees of variation on when somebody believes they are going to arrive at a dock, or when they are going to leave. Scaling a system with these logistical complexities and the uncertainties on when boats are coming and coming is immensely challenging and will definitely continue to be our core challenge on continuing to scale this platform. However, our belief that technology can be created to scale something like this is what keeps us excited to keep doing what we're doing every day.


How much money is PierShare making per month?

No code tools has allowed our company to achieve full profitability much much earlier than any other path we could have taken.


What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company?

The preconceived notion that you have to be an engineer to start a tech company today has completely blown up, and many people who could never start tech companies before no code tools can now fully start and scale them with these tools. However, I do want to express some caution that even though no code tools make the development process significantly easier, if you need to custom develop something, no template, or person, or mentor, or anyone else is going to help you.

It may sound cliche, but the only person who can build your company and define its path is you. Do not worry about what other competitors are doing in the marketplace, or how many people told you your idea is crazy. The only thing stopping your company from being what you want it to be is you not moving it forward. If you keep moving it forward no matter what, and blow through all the obstacles that would have taken down 99% or more of other people, then your company will be what you want it to be.

But just realize going into it, it while no code makes development easier, this is still going to be the most difficult thing you can possibly do, so you have to pretty much be all-in.


What are your future plans for PierShare?

We will be launching version 1 of our mobile app soon, and we'd like to test it with our core group of initial customers before spreading it further. In the long run we want to be a global docking platform, but we are staying grounded and humble by realizing that we have still a fair way to go in terms of building marketshare in a significant number of major cities before we expand further. We want to expand our business and grow our platform and its features in a smart and controlled way so that we don't lose control of it. This constant tugging back and forth amongst growth, scale, and profit is an incredibly difficult balancing act.


How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?

If the Covid 19 crisis didn't already make it obvious, no code is unquestionably the future of software and platform development. Perhaps this was building up for a long time, but this crisis has made it painfully obvious that the days of venture capital firms tossing millions of dollars at unproven ideas in many cases not based in reality is just not sustainable, especially considering the state of the economy right now. This truly is the great unraveling, and I think if there were ever a time for no code tools, now is the time because these new technologies will be there for the next generation of entrepreneurs after we pick up the pieces of this current crisis, and I think that no code will allow these new companies to be born out of this crisis where otherwise they would not exist due to venture money drying up.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I believe that the no code movement will be the greatest shock to the tech world and society as a whole as was the creation of the internet and the proliferation of the smartphone.


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