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Superyacht Entrepreneur Interview: Voly Founder Ian Flanagan

Full disclosure: I am NOT an accountant! In fact, few things scare me more than…accounting. But after getting to know Ian Flanagan (an ex-professional tennis player who also happens to be the founder, and CEO of Voly Yachting) I know I’m not alone. In fact, Flanagan and his Voly team developed a proprietary yacht accounting software to help people just like me…sort of!

Actually, Voly’s specialized yacht accounting software was specifically developed to help people with way more resources than a humble yachting journalist. In fact, Flanagan started the company after retiring from what he calls a “semi-successful professional tennis career” to help superyacht captains, crew, yacht managers and owners easily allocate and track the significant expenses that come with running some of the largest and most expensive yachts on the planet.

“I invested in a bunch of stuff after my tennis career was over,” Flanagan says. “Including a financial services company that had a prepaid MasterCard.

“As a result of that, I soon met bunch of superyacht captains who said: ‘Look, the card is fine. But we really need something to deal with these budgets.’ That makes perfect sense because a captain that’s capable of docking a 100-meter boat in a tight anchorage is rarely going to be a highly trained CFO. And since there are lots of large yachts with multi-million dollar yearly operating budgets, I saw a need.

“Somehow, I came up the idea to build a platform that would integrate our prepaid card with all the necessary banking along with our own full accounting systems because I thought we’d really have something if we could make it easy for captains and crew to use the system on the front end with an all-in-one platform that is one version of the truth. And be really robust on the backend so the CFO-types who look after the assets of some of the wealthiest people in the world would have the tools and reports they needed too.

“So, I invested all my money. Then we spent six months building the structure and layered permissions and approvals process into the software so a captain and the yachting team can easily manage all their expenditures while the owner’s financial team on land can have easy access and control as well.”

The result is actually quite elegant in its simplicity. An integrated Voly Prepaid Mastercard allows every transaction the captain and crew make to be automatically uploaded to the accounting software. While the software allows the family office to track all expenses in real time as well easily adding to the available funds on the card with direct bank transfers plus foreign exchange capability all in one place.

“We now have about 1,400 yachts that use our systems,” Flanagan adds, “and 82% of the yachts over a 100-meters-long use a Voly Group product.” They’ve also acquired Pinpoint Works—a project management software solution designed to streamline complicated yacht work list management, refits and boat builds. And they are looking at other companies to buy because Flanagan believes his solutions could bring similar benefits to family offices who manage property, aircraft, yachts, fine art and even thoroughbred horses, with his objective to consolidate the technology solutions within the industry.

And he’s working on a similar service for the entertainment industry too.

Watch this space.

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