Robb Reader: Ian Malouf
The founder of Ahoy Club on giving up law school to clean up Australia – then following his sea-borne dreams.
Are you able to put your finger on what makes you happier on water than on land?
Being born in Australia, with Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour five minutes either side of my front door, and beautiful hot summers to match, kicks you off as a water baby from birth. And then being lucky enough to be exposed to boats starting at the young age of six years old, with a nine-foot tin boat and a fishing line, has so many great memories for me. Some people get seasick – I tend to get land sick. Without a doubt, to me, it’s the ultimate way for a family and friends to enjoy private quality time together: and besides you can’t ride a flite board or jet pack on land.
Is it fair to say that Ahoy was – like many a remarkable company – born of frustration?
Yes, I think that does sum it up. I was frustrated with the current system from both sides, as the consumer (being the charterer) and the supplier (being the owner), so I took the opportunity to shake up the yachting industry on global scale, which I am proud to say is invoking necessary change and improvement. Ahoy Club make chartering a yacht more streamlined with the assistance of digital technology. Its easy-to-browse digital platform appeals to existing and new audiences, giving clients access to every charter yacht in the world at their fingertips while simultaneously supplying personal one-on-one customer service, ensuring our customers receive excellent service and good value. So, we ultimately bring more customers to the market and they want to keep returning, which is good for everyone.
What other areas of the yachting milieu do you feel could be improved?
Without giving away the innovations we are working on. The fact is, there is always room for improvement in any industry and you can’t be sensitive to hearing that. Like everything we do at Ahoy Club, our innovations are about developing improved methods to make the yachting industry more efficient, more transparent, faster and better, with the primary goal being to enhance the customer experience.
Do you feel that priorities are changing amongst those who charter or purchase yachts? Is there a shift, for example, from “being seen” at the most fashionable marinas to exploration and life-changing experiences?
Yes and no. We are definitely seeing an increase of interest in yachting in what might be classified as more extreme destinations. A yacht trip gives you that ultimate bespoke travel experience and allows you to discover new places that are difficult and sometimes impossible to reach in other ways. Ahoy Club provides these bespoke itineraries, during which clients can enjoy yachting in places such as Iceland, The Faroe Islands, Thailand and The Canary Islands. However, many will always want to be stepping off their superyacht in Monaco and heading to Cipriani for a fabulous meal while popping open a bottle of Dom Perignon. Personally, I love to mix it up. One day I want to ski off a glacier in Norway from a yacht, but I can’t resist revisiting my favourite table on the Italian coast at Conca Del Sogno.
What’s your personal definition of luxury?
Being on any size boat with my family and friends anywhere in the world fulfills the definition of luxury for me. But without a doubt the fully crewed Superyacht experience is seven-star.
Are entrepreneurs, in your opinion, made or born?
Necessity is the mother of all invention. So, in my opinion it’s a combination of necessity, ambition and commitment that creates the truly great success stories in business, along with a big dose of self-belief.
Who – dead or alive – is your greatest creative inspiration?
There will never just be one. But there is a common theme being: my mum, now passed away, and my wife and my daughters. When I told my mother I was dropping out of law school to break into the waste business, with one truck and a shovel, after getting over the shock she gave me her full support every day. My wife Larissa was with me from that very young age when I bought my first truck, to the birth of our five children. Now, I get to watch my two inspiring daughters harness a passion for yachting and drive Ahoy Club to success. Go girls! Aside from family, I’ve got to say Steve Jobs has always been a massive inspiration. He was a master of dreaming big and encouraged me to do the same!