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Ibiza Business People: Smart Charter Ibiza

Charlie Veale and Alessandra Grisoni

 

Charlie Veale and Alessandra Grisoni are both island children who grew up to run the most successful boat charter company on the island, Smart Charter Ibiza. The company is continuing to grow and here the founders talk about their personal experiences of doing business on Ibiza.

 

When did you first come to Ibiza?

Alessandra Grisoni: “I was brought here by my family from Switzerland at just two months old and have lived here ever since. This is my home.”

Charlie Veale: “I came with my family too, 15 years ago when I was eight years old.”

 

What do you remember doing when when you first came here?

AG: “Well, I was a baby, so not much.”

CV: “My family decided to sell up everything in the UK and have us live on a sailing boat in France, which we did for a year. Later we came to visit, Ibiza, even though my parents hadn't heard the best things about the island. They came, fell in love with the place, sold the boat and bought some land. So, the first thing was setting up life here”

 

What were your first memories of the island?

AG: “Moving house a lot: my dad worked in the construction business and we ended up living all over the island, from San Juan to Las Salinas. I found living here amazing with its relaxed hippy lifestyle; moving to Madrid for four years later on was a massive culture shock after Ibiza.”

CV: “For me my biggest memories are of Ibiza in summer spent learning to wind and kite surf, and spending time around the sea of Formentera.”

 

Tell us about your business in Ibiza; what does it do and who for?

CV: “We started off as a boat charter company with one boat and now have a fleet of 25. There is also the sales side of the business where we buy, sell and refit boats as well as act as a broker.”

AG: “We've moved from offering boats of around seven metres long to 25 metres and now can offer a wide range of boats for people with a lot or a little money – we try and accommodate everyone we can. We get rentals from local islanders from March and this is a great source of repeat business plus it's always nice to see familiar faces every year.”

 

What led you to create Smart Charter in the first place?

CV: “I have always loved boats and after working as a boat's captain, I thought, this is great fun and I started to look at ways I could build on it. In the second year we bought another boat and were introduced to our investor who brought with him two more boats. This also meant financial support, which has allowed us to grow very fast in a very short time.”

 

How does Ibiza differ as a place to run a business?

CV: “It's tricky in terms of paperwork and bureaucracy, but when you put that aside it's a very special place to do business. The season is short and intense and whilst technically it runs from May to October, you are mainly flat out in July and August. The winter is when we prepare for next year and get things perfect for the summer: we call it preventative maintenance, since you can't afford to lose a week's income in peak season. In summer our employee number doubles in size, so inevitably it's about the day-to-day running of the business then. We are lucky in that the people who skipper our boats are happy to work only during the summer, it makes us more flexible.”

 

What is your proudest achievement?

AG: “I ride horses and when I was younger I got to a very high level nationally and used to win big competitions in mainland Spain.”

CV: “Starting the business and becoming the biggest boat charter company on the island.”

 

As a business leader, what advice would you give to people wanting to start a new business on Ibiza?

CV: “Just go for it – nothing will happen until you start working for it; you have to take it from dream stage to making it happen. From the beginning we have always done the best we can to present ourselves well and provide customers with a great level of service. Our experience shows that being the best in what you do brings great rewards.”

AG: “Ibiza is a great place to start a business and eventually you get to know everyone, which opens doors. It doesn't always help at first, but eventually you will meet the right people that can help you.”

 

What have your learned as person through your business on Ibiza?

CV: “The biggest thing by a long way is working with the team. We have lots of amazing people with big personalities and everyone contributes with ideas on how to make the company successful. Making sure that everyone knows they are valued is key to getting this kind of input.”

AG: “He stole my answer (laughs). I'll just add that dealing with people has been my biggest and most rewarding lesson.”

 

What are your plans for the future?

CV: “Our focus is to become the biggest boat company on Ibiza, then the Balearics and perhaps even further afield.”


Vital statistics

Business: Smart Charter Ibiza

Founded: 2013

Website: www.smartcharteribiza.com

Main services: Boat charters and sales


WORDS: Julian Heathcote

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