Business Savvy that Floats
Ottawa Sun, July 16th 2001
Ottawa, Ontario. Brent McNamee is proof that hours of university lectures can pay off even in the shortrun.
Instead of flipping burgers or waiting tables, the Bachelor of Commerce grad found a marketing job within months of leaving the University of Ottawa.
Taking the marketing theories and techniques from his classes, McNamee founded a company with his father and another shareholder. Called www.BOATERexam.com ®, their firm uses the Internet to give pleasure boaters a fast way to comply with new licensing laws being phased in across Canada.
"It's sort of neat when you actually get to use it and put it into practice," McNamee says, but adds there's more learning to be done after graduation.
"You just learn so much that you would never get in school."
Under new regulations, all pleasure boaters will be required by 2009 to carry a pleasure craft operator's licence while boating. The rules already apply to people born after April 1, 1983, and people caught boating without a boat licence can get a hefty fine.
The chance to license boaters for the federal government was presented to McNamee's father, Larry, in September 1999 -- shortly after Brent graduated.
Larry came up with the concept of providing the safe boating exam via the Internet and by January 2000, BOATERexam.com® was federally incorporated. Four months later the site went live.
Two other firms are approved by the Canadian Coast Guard to provide similar services, but McNamee says BOATERexam.com® is the only bilingual site providing safe boating training, a practice exam and final boat exam, and a temporary boat licence you can print off on your computer at home.
"You don't have to waste a whole weekend, staying in the city to take a boating safety exam. Do it at home, do it while you're at the cottage," he says.
McNamee estimates that 8 million people in Canada will need a pleasure craft operator's licence by 2009, but so far only about 200,000 have completed licensing.
There will be a bottleneck of customers leading up to 2009, but he says the product will continue to find a market as young people take up boating and tourists flock to Canada's waterways.
Others seem to agree. The company has already attracted the attention of venture capitalists and McNamee says more cash would help expand his marketing efforts.
"It's a bit of a catch-22. You don't want to let them in too early because they take a big chunk of your company," he says.