Boston-based the Wanderlust Group (TWG)—the parent brand to Dockwa, Marinas.com and the forthcoming Campouts—offers technology marketplaces and platforms that help empower adventurers to enjoy the great outdoors.
The top boating reservation app offers boaters secure slips and moorings at over 800 marinas nationwide. Dockwa is one of the first tech startups that had an existing four-day workweek to receive a considerable amount of funding from venture capitalists and investors. Instead of the expected Friday off, Dockwa CEO Mike Melillo chose to include Monday in its three-day weekend. This day off doesn’t have any catches nor does it adversely impact employee compensation, time off or the hours they need to work.
The marketplaces and technology platforms connect adventurers to destinations. Its software is used by more than 250,000 people. The company has expanded to more than 30 countries, 865 marinas and 250,000 boaters worldwide. Dockwa is a two-sided marketplace connecting boaters and marinas. The platform enables marinas to run their operation, while gaining access to the hundreds of thousands of boaters using their reservation app. Boaters can more quickly find and book both long-term and transient slips, spending less time planning and more out on the water.
TWG pivoted to a remote-first company that operates on a four-day workweek, as Melillo believes time spent outdoors and connected to nature makes all of his people lead better, more well-rounded work lives. During the time off, Dockwa encourages its employees to step away from their work and use the extra time off to invest in themselves, their family or friends.
Melillo has heard amazing stories from his employees, based on the extra free time they now enjoy. With a three-day weekend, some of his staff have been able to earn a pilot’s license, volunteer at a nonprofit sailing club and attend sports, plays and other events with their children. With only two days off, with one that is usually reserved for running errands and doing chores around the house, it leaves people in a perpetual cycle of being exhausted. The extra day makes all the difference for a person’s mental health, emotional well-being and the ability to pursue hobbies, spending quality time with family and friends and giving back to the community.
“Having implemented our four-day workweek practice over 18 months ago, we’ve not only had one of our strongest years, to date, but have accomplished some massive milestones–such as closing a $30 million Series C funding round. This venture capital round proves that the four-day work week isn’t just a pipedream, and you can successfully scale a business by working smarter, not harder,” said the chief executive.
During the pandemic, more Americans turned to the water for recreation and getting away from the crowds—enjoying the sea and the great outdoors. This helped propel increased business for TWG. The boating industry has flourished, with new boat sales hitting new highs, according to the National Marine Manufacturing Association. “Since its launch, TWG’s products have connected hundreds of thousands of boaters to search, explore, reserve, and pay for reservations at thousands of marinas digitally. On average, Dockwa has increased the average net operating income of its marina customers by 20%, and its total marina value by $800,000.” The company announced Wednesday that it has closed a $30 million Series C funding round led by Thursday Ventures.
TWG will use the funds from this round to scale Dockwa, so marinas can run every transaction through the platform, Dockwa can expand to more marinas internationally and the company can build a better boater community.
Melillo affirmed, “We’re looking forward to using funds from this round to scale and grow the business, while standing firm on the notion that the four-day work week will always be a part of the Wanderlust Group’s DNA.”
The company launched the Wanderfund, a new philanthropic initiative focused on supporting organizations that create greater access to nature and protect the environment. The Wanderfund will offer financial funding for the Ocean Conservancy and the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County. TWG, founded in Newport, is giving back to its community. TWG will engage its community of hundreds of thousands of boaters, marinas and adventurers to nominate other environmental nonprofits for support each quarter, with plans of investing $300,000 this year in environmentally focused nonprofits.
“At the Wanderlust Group, we are trying to better the world by getting people out in it,” said Melillo. “To do that, we need a future that has clean oceans and protected forests. We need a reversal of climate change and a generation of new adventurers and conservationists dedicated to the outdoors. Investing in those causes is as central to our business as investing in our product is.”
Thursday Ventures, whose mission is to find, fund and nurture early-stage tech companies that empower and change the world, is closely linked to TWG’s success. The Series C funding round was led by Ryan McKillen at Thursday Ventures, who joined TWG’s board of directors in May 2021 and whose résumé includes helping scale Uber’s engineering team as the company’s third employee. McKillen said about TWG, “It is rare to find a company so well positioned to digitize an industry for the first time.” He is “excited about this and the company’s vision of investing in the environment.”