Happiness Delivered for Boaters

boater happiness

marketing planMoney can buy happiness. There’s just one catch: you have to spend it on experiences.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Boatyard blog

When we first came up with the idea for our startup, we had to ask ourselves a few questions: “what do we truly love to do?” and “why does Boatyard exist?”. We knew we had to create a business built around our true passion and also build one that has a unique contribution to both customers and partners. It wasn’t long before the answer became clear. The reason Boatyard exists is to deliver happiness to the boating community. We don’t say that as marketing speak. We mean it literally, and the science is there to prove it.

Money can buy happiness. There’s just one catch: you have to spend it on experiences.

Cornell professor Thomas Gilovich has spent more than a decade examining why spending your discretionary income on experiences, rather than material things, delivers more enduring happiness. In a new study, Gilovich and co-authors Amit Kumar, a doctoral student in the field of psychology at Cornell, and Matthew Killingsworth of University of California, San Francisco, discovered that even thinking about experiential purchases generates more happiness than anticipating spending money on things. That’s why there are rarely fights among those waiting in line for a concert or sporting event, but it seems that every Black Friday is filled with news of riots at Walmart.

There is the old joke, “The best two days in a boat owners life are the day they buy and they sell it”. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new boat or a new iPhone, no matter how good a purchase makes us feel, we eventually drift back to our baseline level of happiness. Psychologists call this phenomenon “Hedonic Adaptation”. After some period of time, it is not the boat that makes us happy, but rather the experiences that the boat enables that generates sustained happiness.

Harvard Psychologist, Dan Gilbert, argues that that buying experiences makes us happy because we turn them into a part of our identities. These experiences actually make us who we are. Try asking your friends or family to describe themselves. You won’t hear many say things like “I’m a GoPro, Nike, Lexus kind of person”. It is not what we own that defines us, but what we do.

As Gilbert writes, “if money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right”. So spend more time with your family, learn to sail, cruise the intracoastal at sunset, take your boat for lunch at Garcia’s or fishing in Key West. That is why we created Boatyard – to facilitate those experiences for you.

We saw how many of our friends weren’t using their boats because they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of maintenance, cleaning or taking the ride to the fuel dock. Some couldn’t find a good mechanic or enough free time to keep their boats seaworthy, while others shared horror stories about their experiences with unqualified and unreliable service providers. We knew there had to be a better way, so we built one.

Boatyard is a group of people who are passionate about enabling remarkable boating experiences. We are also a startup that depends on our community for feedback on how we can better deliver happiness for you.

If you have any suggestions, comments or just want to share a story, you can email me directly at nathan@boatyard.com.

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Nathan is an entrepreneur, sailor, kitesurfer, snowboarder, and most importantly, husband and father. He launched Boatyard in November 2014, as the world’s first app for boat owners to find and book qualified service providers in their area – delivering boater happiness on-demand. Boat owners can now order fuel delivery, boat washing and even ice and drinks delivered to their boat from their smartphone.

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