Syracuse University Magazine

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Anthony DiMare '14 stands with the cardboard hull models he used to design the Regattable performance catamaran.



Set to Sail

Anthony DiMare ’14 was revved up to get out on the water. For months he had been anxiously waiting for the local waters to thaw and open up, so he could set sail for the first time in a prototype of the catamaran sailboat that he and a team of student entrepreneurs had been painstakingly developing for more than a year. On a Sunday afternoon in early April, DiMare pushed off the shore of Jamesville Reservoir, several miles south of campus, and took a ride, sail aloft and twin hulls cutting through the water. “It went marvelous,” he says.

For DiMare, it was an epic step in the unfolding entrepreneurial quest of Regattable, a startup he founded to create a portable, performance catamaran—one that can be packed and stored in two suitcases and conveniently hauled to water, where it can be easily assembled and set sail. “The three major problems with boating are transportation, storage, and general cost,” he says. “Our goal is to eventually eliminate all three and get to the point where we make sailing accessible, especially for people in highly urbanized areas. The idea is that no longer are you shaping your lifestyle around the boat—your boat can adapt to whatever your lifestyle is.”

DiMare took to sailing as a teenager and worked during his high school years at the state park boathouse in his hometown of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. The concept for the Regattable catamaran first materialized on a summer 2012 trip to New York City. He wanted to rent a sailboat and take a friend out on the Hudson River, but the rentals were “absurdly expensive,” he says. No luck that day, but the incident inspired him to think about building his own portable sailboat. One day in November 2012, the mechanical engineering major had his Eureka moment. He grabbed some paper, tinkered with fold patterns, transferred them to sheets of cardboard and, with assistance from duct tape, came up with a folding model that opened into a sturdy hull. “At that point, it was me just talking to everyone about this crazy idea and everyone thought, ‘This guy’s nuts,’” he says.

Feeding his obsession, DiMare became fully engaged in the University’s entrepreneur community, taking courses, participating in events, and adding a minor in information technology, design, and startups. He wrestled with computer-assisted design software to create the prototype, and pulled together a team that now includes marketing and business specialist Sebastian Benkert G’13, G’14, graphic designer and front-end developer Chelsea Lorenz ’14, and co-founder Nicholas Poorman. With a business plan in place, Regattable won $7,000 in seed funding in SU’s Raymond von Dran IDEA Award competition, landed a space last summer in the Student Sandbox at the Technology Garden downtown, and was a finalist in the $150,000 Syracuse Startup Labs competition. John Liddy G’03, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Tech Garden and director of the Student Sandbox, considers DiMare’s commitment to the idea a strong asset. “With Anthony, while there is a good market there, it was really quite personal for him,” Liddy says. “He has a love for the sport and a real desire that he leveraged to make this happen.”

 Call it contagious enthusiasm—after all, that’s what sold Benkert on the concept. A German Fulbright Scholar who earned dual master’s degrees from the Whitman (M.B.A.) and Newhouse (new media management) schools, Benkert first met DiMare at a startup event and later joined him after a student venture he was working with closed up shop. Benkert had never been sailing, but was drawn to DiMare’s vision. “Anthony is probably the most inspiring and passionate person I’ve ever met,” he says. “From hearing him pitch the idea for the first time to actually playing a part in helping him realize his dream is the reason I wanted to join the team and why I enjoy working with him so much. He makes you as excited about it as he is and that is one of the biggest key factors when you do something like this, because it’s not always easy—you hit a lot of roadblocks and have to climb a lot of walls. If you can’t be 100 percent passionate about what you think this is going to be, then you won’t have the strength to follow through.”

Liddy believes that passion drives the Regattable team, keeping it buoyant and moving forward. “A lot of other people would have quit,” he says. “They didn’t, and I think that was based on their desire to see this through.”

Along with market research, polishing the idea, networking, and developing an Internet presence, the Regattable team raised enough funding to get its alpha prototype built in collaboration with Persak & Wurmfeld, a naval architecture firm in Brooklyn. But that seems to be just the beginning. Since then, Regattable has made vast improvements in the concept and has a revised beta prototype in development. “We added a whole new layer of excitement to the product and have included hydrofoiling into the portability concept,” DiMare says. “Together with an innovative stabilization system, we will democratize foiling, making this otherwise very difficult feat easy even for beginners. Our boat will allow you to literally fly across the water.”

This summer, the company moved to New York City to be closer to its R&D partners and is on the hunt for investors looking to be part of a new movement. “We need additional capital for the beta development and are working on a Kickstarter campaign through our website [regattable.com] to win first customers and grow our community,” DiMare says.

For DiMare and the Regattable team, it’s a challenging adventure, but one they hope catches wind and leads to a modern sailing community. In fact, they believe “community” is a key aspect of the business and vision, creating excitement through a shared experience. “Sailing can be so much more for everyone,” DiMare says. “On a beautiful summer day when the wind is kicking, there is nothing like going out with a friend in a small sailboat.”     —Jay Cox



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The alpha prototype of the Regattable catamaran generates buzz on the Shaw Quad this spring.



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Sebastian Benkert G'13, G'14, Chelsea Lorenz '14, and Anthony DiMare '14 display the alpha prototype.



bata-render_boat.jpgComputer-generated image of the beta prototype that is now in development.