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Boat-docking startup Dockwa raises $2m

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A local startup that allows boaters to reserve marina slips and moorings over the Web has raised $2 million from private investors in its second round of funding.

The new investment brings total funding for Dockwa, a mobile- and Web-based marina-booking platform, to $3.5 million , said Mike Melillo, founder and chief executive. The latest funding came solely from individual investors, with about 30 percent from new investors, he said.

Since launching in June 2015 out of Newport, R.I., Dockwa has opened an office in Cambridge, expanded to more than 400 marinas, and nearly doubled its employees to 15. The number of boaters using the service has grown to more than 20,000 in one year, Melillo said.


The service streamlines what has traditionally been a slow phone and e-mail process to reserve slips and moorings, and it has been adopted by private yacht clubs, corporate marinas, and municipalities, including Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.

Dockwa raised $1.1 million last year, partly from venture capital firm Matrix Partners and had an opportunity to raise upwards of $5 million from a few venture capital firms in this round. But Melillo said he opted to stick solely with private investor funding because, "it makes the team more efficient."

"It allows us to run this pragmatically without taking a significant amount of capital," he said, adding the company expects to break even on cash flow by 2017.

The company dropped a 5 percent booking fee for boaters this season, making the reservation process free. Marinas pay Dockwa a 3.5 percent fee per transaction that mostly covers credit card fees. Dockwa keeps a small portion of that fee. Melillo declined to disclose how much the company keeps.

Dockwa also just launched its first paid subscription service, where marinas can pay an additional $299 per month for access to analytics and consulting services to boost their marketing reach with customers.


Dockwa, now in more than 15 states and four countries, is rapidly expanding in the Midwest and is "heavily focusing" on Florida and the Caribbean, Melillo said. The company's goal is to sign up 1,000 marinas by the end of the year.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.