Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Estelle and Stephen Cockcroft, renowned experts and enthusiasts in the sailing and yacht charter industries.
With over 40 years of experience, their journey has taken them across the globe, exploring the seas and sharing their expertise. As the founders of Catamaran Guru, a leading yacht brokerage and sailing blog, they have become trusted advisors in the industry.
In this interview, we delve into their greatest achievements over the past year, their insights on employee happiness and adapting to the evolving work environment, and their expectations for the future of online business.
Estelle is also in the process of writing a book, aiming to guide readers through the realities of living on a boat and embracing the cruising lifestyle.
Join us as we uncover the secrets of their success and their vision for the future.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: Stephen and Estelle Cockcroft have sailed and worked in almost every aspect of the sailing and yacht charter industries over the past 40 years. Turning a dream into reality, in the 1980s, Stephen and a friend rebuilt a Bruce Roberts 45 Sloop.
The modest boat set them on a lifelong adventure exploring the southern coasts of Africa, the Red Sea, Mediterranean then crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean and on to live the sailing life in the US where they became citizens.
From sailing instruction to yacht building to yacht charter management to yacht brokering, these long-term liveaboards know the charter management industry inside and out. They have amassed countless enchanting adventure stories as they spent the past decades sailing 70,000+ NM and building a community, online and offline, to share the love of all things sailing.
They have owned 8 yachts (so far) and created a full service yacht brokerage and sailing blog, Catamaran Guru [https://catamaranguru.com/], that offers sage advice for yacht buyers whether they wish to be liveaboards, casual cruisers, or charter boat owners.
The Catamaran Guru seaschools offer ASA and RYA instruction along with liveaboard courses that help even the most timid of beginner sailors learn the life.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: Catamaran Guru started as an informational website for catamaran owners and cruisers about 20 years ago. Little was known about catamarans and general boat ownership solutions then.
We are now known as specialists in this space. We provide education and expertise about catamarans but we also provide solutions about how to own a yacht in the most cost effective way. We developed various charter programs of which the “boat as a business” program is the most popular.
It is designed to substantially reduce the cost of ownership by using tax advantages together with revenues generated from charter operations. Our biggest strength is being community focussed and we give our clients the tools to make informed decisions about boat ownership.
We remain engaged with our clients from discovery to becoming boat owners and beyond. Our company culture is quality customer service with a “Can-Do” attitude.
What advice do you wish you had received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: We currently own two major French catamaran dealerships in the US. We sell a lot of boats every year and and it gives us a big advantage to have quality catamaran brands available in inventory.
This is something that we should have pursued right from the start, but we hesitated taking on so much debt. We took on a partner in a one division of our business who encouraged us to “go big or go home” and it definitely changed the trajectory of our business.
He believed in our ability to inspire people to do what we do, and have done for over 30 years and to therefor be able to sell boats. We just needed that small nudge and the world opened up to us.
Here is a two-fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: One of the books Stephen enjoyed and gifted to a few friends is “Who moved my cheese” by Deepak Malhorta
“It instilled in me the necessity to recognize and grasp opportunities when they come along and to not accept the status quo. Entrepreneurship runs deep in my veins as a South African and I realized that, to be successful, one has to challenge the ingrained rules and assumptions.
It is not always an easy path but very necessary. The trick is to recognize the opportunities and grab them”.
Christopher Hitchens, an American journalist, is quoted as saying that “everyone has a book in them” Have you written a book? If so, please share with us details about it. If you haven’t, what book would you like to write and how would you like it to benefit the readers?
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: I (Estelle) am in the process of writing a book. I aim to guide people through storytelling by relaying my own experiences over the last 30 years of living on a boat. I have now lived on a boat longer than I have ever lived on land , so I have a rough idea of what people can expect. LOL
The premise of the book:
More people than ever want to buy a boat and go sailing long-term. They dream of more freedom, leaving the rat race, living on a beach, going on adventures, and enjoying life to the max. In reality, cruising life is not as glamorous as some dreamers make it out to be. There are many challenges, both in making the transition from ‘normal’ life and in living aboard.
There are always things to learn, repairs to make, maintenance to perform. Space is limited. Change is a constant factor. So before making this decision and buying that nice boat that you’ve seen, it is important to understand what this lifestyle really entails;
- How to determine if cruising life is for you
- How to make the transition effortless
- What is the best boat for your purpose – and how to buy it?
- How much does it cost to live a life of cruising on a boat?
- How to make your boat pay for itself
Once you understand the reality, you can actually enjoy the adventure and not get a rude awakening when its too late
2020, 2021, and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: Traditional thinking and assumptions can be wrong in times as volatile and life changing as these. Businesses that we thought would flourish, failed during that period and businesses like ours, considered to be in the luxury category, exceeded all expectations.
People’s thinking completely changed and many decided to do the very things that they only ever dreamed about, like buying a boat and sailing off into the yonder!
So the lesson for us was, be flexible, be prepared to change your business direction if needed and to make split decisions when needed, to accommodate changing trends. Be ready to take unexpected opportunities when they arise and run with it.
Your business should be light on its feet. Keep overhead manageable and be prepared to pivot to meet new challenges and opportunities.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft: Growing Catamaran Guru and our team to be the dominant player in this industry. We strive to give the best quality personal service in a world where that is just not the norm anymore.
On a personal level, we would love to be able to delegate more of the day-to-day business and be able to do what we do best – sail, explore and help educate and inspire more people to embrace this lifestyle of freedom and independence.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft for taking the time to do this interview and share their knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Estelle & Stephen Cockcroft or their company, you can do it through their – Linkedin Page
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