Welcome to scope International Consulting

We help medium-size and large businesses to establish a company in US or in Europe, we will lead your project from the idea until the execution with the goal to become successful.

We also recruit executive and managers to operate any businesses within specialized sectors.


Florida Keys reopens to visitors Oct. 1 !!!

After the Keys were battered by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10, local government officials announced Monday the island chain will reopen to visitors Sunday, Oct. 1.

Although Key Largo and Key West were the least impacted, not all lodging, including RV resorts and other tourism facilities throughout the Keys, are operating on a normal basis, according to the Monroe County government. Potential visitors should call ahead to make sure hotels and their favorite attractions are open.

Some hotels are also accommodating displaced residents under a FEMA program.

The decision to open the Keys to visitors was based on the completion of some of the most immediate infrastructure repairs, government officials said. Almost all power and water have been restored from Key Largo through Marathon, as well as Stock Island and Key West.

Cell phone service is also working, but restoration of Comcast cable television and internet is lagging behind.

Aldi to Launch Gas Stations

Germany’s service station sector looks set for upheaval, as the discount supermarket plans a network of automated fuel retail outlets.

Fill your trunk with groceries and your tank with fuel, all in one stop: German discount supermarket Aldi will open a dozen automated gas stations adjacent to existing supermarkets by the end of this year, all in southern German cities. If it proves successful, the retailer plans to expand to 300 gas stations, company sources told Handelsblatt.

That expansion would see Aldi will invest around €120 million, around $140 million, in fuel retail, according to a manager who is involved in the plans and spoke with Handelsblatt.

Aldi’s plans are a direct attack on long-established fuel retailers like Aral and Shell. Fuel retail expert Christian Warning told Handelsblatt the move was “very dangerous” for current market leaders. Margins on consumer fuel retail were already perilously thin, he said, and current market players alarmed by the prospect of new competition.

Initially, Aldi will lease sites at its supermarkets to FE Trading, a subsidiary of OMV, to build and operate automatic gas stations under the Avanti brand. A subsidiary of Aldi already cooperates with OMV to sell discount gas in Austria. “Now Aldi wants to replicate that success in Germany,” the Aldi executive said.

“Anyone without clear positioning in the market could be crushed between premium sellers and the discounters.”

Christian Warning, managing director, The Retail Marketeers

Planning applications have already been submitted and construction is set to begin.

It’s an important move for OMV. The partly state-owned Austrian oil company currently commands just 2 percent of the German retail fuel market. A spokesperson for OMV said the concept would offer “quality fuel at a particularly inexpensive price, with a simple, fast fueling procedure.”

Experience in the Austrian market shows growing acceptance of automatic refueling stations. OMV currently operates 80 automatic stations at the stores of Aldi’s Austrian subsidiary Hofer, and a further 30 in neighboring Slovenia, with plans to expand into Hungary.

Aldi will add its own electric vehicle charging facilities to the new OMV gas stations at its German stores. Customers can already recharge e-cars in the parking lots of 50 Aldi stores, a free service offered in cooperation with energy giant Innogy.

Aldi’s move into Germany’s billion-euro fuel retail market underlines how rapidly the fuel trade is moving away from traditional business models. The rise of electric cars, falling fuel demand and new mobility concepts such as car-sharing all pose difficult questions for companies like Aral, Texaco, and Shell. The number of gas stations in Germany has fallen from a high of 46,000 in 1970 to just 14,500 today.

04 p15 Fuel Business in Germany-01

And crucially, Aldi is setting its sights on existing retailers’ non-fuel business. Fuel hasn’t been the big money maker for service stations for some time. Market leader Aral currently makes just 11 percent of its earnings on gas. More than 60 percent of its profits are made coffee, snacks and fresh food. According to consultants Nielsen, German gas stations together have annual non-gas revenues of more than €8.7 billion, around $10.3 billion.

Aldi’s strategy may prompt other large retailers to take a closer look at fuel retail outlets, Mr. Warning, managing director of consultants The Retail Marketeers, said. “I can easily imagine Amazon building up bricks-and-mortar food stores around gas stations.”

The German retail fuel market could be set for the kind of transformation that happened in France 20 years ago, when supermarkets moved into the business, prompting massive consolidation. Almost half of France’s 11,000 service stations now belong to supermarket chains. Retail giant Carrefour operates around 1,400 locations where customers can fill their trunks with groceries and their tanks with gas.

So far, considerable differences between the French and German markets have made it more difficult for German supermarkets to move in. But the German business now seems ripe for change.

“We will soon see a sharp split in the market,” Mr. Warning said. On the one hand, there will be a growth in “cathedral” gas stations, offering a wide range of food and drink, as well as the chance to pick up packages bought online. At the other end of the scale are discounters selling fuel only, using fully automated machines. In Denmark, 70 percent of all gas stations are now unmanned.

Germany’s existing large fuel chains are betting on a broad range of high-quality goods and services, underpinned by retail alliances.

Aral, a subsidiary of BP, is already cooperating with supermarket giant Rewe. By the end of this year, 250 Aral service stations will feature small Rewe supermarkets, branded “Rewe to go.” Competitor Shell already offers facilities to pick up Amazon packages at its stations, with some of its stations also offering Starbucks coffee.

The oil chains will need to move quickly to fend off the Aldi threat. “Anyone without clear positioning in the market could be crushed between premium sellers and the discounters,” Mr. Warning said. Small and medium-sized fuel retailers may be the hardest hit.

Hurricanes Irma, Harvey restart debate on climate change and warmer oceans

Hurricanes Harvey and now Irma became monster storms while swirling over two separate stretches of unusually warm ocean water, a feature that has reignited debate on climate change and the degree it is adding to the intensity of hurricanes.

Scientists all agree that global warming is not the cause of hurricanes, a fact made obvious by the long history of tropical cyclones. But there is scientific consensus that a warming planet will produce bigger and more destructive hurricanes, with many scientists arguing that those impacts are already occurring.

Peter J. Webster, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology, said it’s clear that Harvey intensified amid some abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and that Irma formed during a season when the Atlantic was also warmer than average.

“I stand by what I said in 2005 — warmer sea temperatures will lead to stronger hurricanes,” said Webster, who 12 years ago published a hotly debated study reporting a rise in Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes since 1970.

Webster cautioned, however, that sea temperatures are just one factor in spawning hurricanes. “We have two things going on,” he said. “Natural variability and warmer sea temperature.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, forecasters were calling Irma the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, with winds up to 185 miles per hour. Depending on its track, it could strike Florida by weekend, possibly landing as a Category 5 storm.

It has long been known that warmer ocean waters can serve as “fuel” for hurricanes, including those in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The Atlantic this year has been unusually warm, but there is scientific debate on the reasons why.

Temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are affected by a natural phenomenon called the “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation,” which results partly from a change in ocean currents. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, Atlantic temperatures were relatively cool because of this oscillation. Since then, the Atlantic has been generally warmer, coinciding with scientific concern over rising greenhouse gases and elevated global temperatures.

To analyze what is occurring, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have developed climate models based on temperatures recorded over the last century. They also factor in various environmental conditions, ranging from the sun’s energy output to the impacts of volcanic eruptions.

Those models show the Atlantic has warmed beyond the impact of natural oscillations, said Kevin E. Trenberth, who heads the climate analysis section at NCAR in Boulder, Colo.

Trenberth says there is also strong evidence that global warming contributed to the intensification of Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey was spawned from a tropical wave that developed to the east of the Lesser Antilles. It reached tropical storm status on Aug. 17, limped into the Gulf of Mexico and rapidly intensified on Aug. 24 as it took aim at Texas.

During this period, surface temperatures in the Gulf were 2.7 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheitabove average, with “record levels” of heat deep into the water column and dense air moisture above, said Trenberth. “The conditions were ripe” for the hurricane to intensify, he said, and later unleash record rainfall.

Trenberth’s observations contrast with that of Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Interviewed by Breitbart News last week, Pruitt said it was “opportunistic” and “misplaced” to tie Hurricane Harvey to climate change.

Hurricane Irma also formed in a general region where Atlantic waters were abnormally warm, about 2 degrees above average, said Trenberth. But meteorologists say that other factors were at play as Irma quickly built into a Category 5 storm.

Joe Cione, a hurricane researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that his analysis shows that Irma intensified in a stretch of Atlantic water that was relatively cool to the surrounding warmer waters. That occurred on Sept. 4 and 5, when Irma strengthened into a Category 4 and then a Category 5 storm.

Cione and fellow NOAA researcher Neal Dorst say that other factors — such as low vertical wind shear — were crucial in supercharging the storm. “Irma’s explosive strengthening was as much a matter of the proper atmospheric elements coming together as the ocean warmth,” said Dorst.

While there is general consensus that global climate change will cause more extreme hurricanes and other weather events, scientific organizations differ on whether it is already occurring.

In May, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded “there is observational evidence for an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea-surface temperatures.” That statement is similar to what Georgia Tech’s Webster and other researchers concluded in 2005.

By contrast, NOAA says on its website: “It is premature to conclude that human activities — and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming — have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations.”

There is also scientific debate on why Atlantic hurricanes diminished in the year after 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma killed nearly 1,900 people and caused roughly $137 billion in damage. Climate change skeptics seized on this lull to argue that predictions of more-intense hurricanes were bogus. “We were criticized heavily,” said Webster.

He and other scientists say a strong El Nino warming in the Pacific is the best explanation for the lull. When El Ninos form during the spring and summer, the jet stream dips, creating wind shear that tears apart small storms before they can organize in the Atlantic.

Webster said the continental United States can expect similar swings in the future, even with a general rise in ocean temperatures.

“I wouldn’t put everything in the global warming basket,” he said. “But it certainly has an impact.”

Tesla will reveal its electric semi-truck next month — and it could have a 300-mile range

Tesla next month plans to unveil an electric big-rig truck with a working range of 200 to 300 miles, Reuters has learned, a sign that the electric car maker is targeting regional hauling for its entry into the commercial freight market.

Chief Executive Elon Musk has promised to release a prototype of its Tesla Semi truck next month in a bid to expand the company’s market beyond luxury cars. The entrepreneur has tantalized the trucking industry with the prospect of a battery-powered heavy-duty vehicle that can compete with conventional diesels, which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.

Tesla’s electric prototype will be capable of traveling the low end of what transportation veterans consider to be “long-haul” trucking, according to Scott Perry, an executive at Miami-based fleet operator Ryder System Inc. Perry said he met with Tesla officials earlier this year to discuss the technology at the automaker’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.

Perry said Tesla’s efforts are centered on an electric big-rig known as a “day cab” with no sleeper berth, capable of traveling about 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload before recharging.

“I’m not going to count them out for having a strategy for longer distances or ranges, but right out of the gate I think that’s where they’ll start,” said Perry, who is the chief technology officer and chief procurement officer for Ryder.

Tesla responded to Reuters questions with an email statement saying, “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”

Tesla’s plan, which could change as the truck is developed, is consistent with what battery researchers say is possible with current technology. Tesla has not said publicly how far its electric truck could travel, what it would cost or how much cargo it could carry. But Musk has acknowledged that Tesla has met privately with potential buyers to discuss their needs.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Tesla is developing self-driving capability for the big rig.

Musk has expressed hopes for large-scale production of the Tesla Semi within a couple of years. That audacious effort could open a potentially lucrative new market for the Palo Alto, California-based automaker.

Or it could prove an expensive distraction. Musk in July warned that the company is bracing for “manufacturing hell” as it accelerates production of its new Model 3 sedan.  Tesla aims to produce 5,000 of the cars per week by the end of this year, and 10,000 per week sometime next year.

Tesla shares are up about 65 percent this year. But skeptics abound. Some doubt Musk’s ability to take Tesla from a niche producer to a large-scale automaker. About 22 percent of shares available for trade have been sold “short” by investors who expect the stock to fall.

Musk, a quirky billionaire whose transportation ambitions include colonizing the planet Mars, has long delighted in defying conventional wisdom.  At Tesla’s annual meeting in June, he repeated his promise of a battery-powered long-haul big rig.

“A lot of people don’t think you can do a heavy-duty, long-range truck that’s electric, but we are confident that this can be done,” he said.

While the prototype described by Ryder’s Perry would fall well short of the capabilities of conventional diesels, Musk may well have found a sweet spot if he can deliver. Roughly 30 percent of U.S. trucking jobs are regional trips of 100 to 200 miles, according to Sandeep Kar, chief strategy officer of Toronto-based Fleet Complete, which tracks and analyzes truck movement.

A truck with that range would be able to move freight regionally, such as from ports to nearby cities or from warehouses to retail establishments.

“As long as (Musk) can break 200 miles he can claim his truck is ‘long haul’ and he will be technically right,” Kar said.

Interest in electric trucks is high among transportation firms looking to reduce their emissions and operating costs. Electric motors require less maintenance than internal combustion engines. Juice from the grid is cheaper than diesel.

But current technology doesn’t pencil when it comes to powering U.S. trucks across the country. Experts say the batteries required would be so large and heavy there would be little room for cargo.

An average diesel cab costs around $120,000. The cost of the battery alone for a big rig capable of going 200 to 400 miles carrying a typical payload could be more than that, according to battery researchers Shashank Sripad and Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University.

Battery weight and ability would limit a semi to a range of about 300 miles with an average payload, according to a paper recently published by Viswanathan and Sripad. The paper thanked Tesla for “helpful comments and suggestions.” Tesla did not endorse the work or comment on the conclusions to Reuters.

A range of 200 to 300 miles would put Tesla at the edge of what the nascent electric truck industry believes is economically feasible, the researchers and industry insiders said.

Transportation stalwarts such as manufacturer Daimler AG and shipping company United Parcel Service Inc, said they are focusing their electric efforts on short-haul trucks. That’s because smaller distances and lighter payloads require less battery power, and trucks can recharge at a central hub overnight.

Daimler, the largest truck manufacturer in the world by sales, will begin production this year on an electric delivery truck. The vehicle will have a 100-mile range and be capable of carrying a payload of 9,400 pounds, about 1,000 pounds less than its diesel counterpart, according to Daimler officials.

Daimler has been joined by a handful of startups such as Chanje, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer that has a partnership with Ryder to build 100-mile-range electric trucks for package delivery.

Ryder and its customers believe electric trucks could cost more to buy but may be cheaper to maintain and have more predictable fuel costs. As batteries become cheaper and environmental regulation increases, the case for electric trucks could strengthen.

“This tech is being seen as a major potential differentiator. Everyone wants to understand how real it is,” said Perry, the chief technology officer.

What is a company’s worth, and who determines its stock price?

A company’s worth – its total value – is its market capitalization, and it is represented by the company’s stock price. Market cap (as it is commonly referred to) is equal to the stock price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding.

For example, Microsoft (MSFT) is trading for $71.41, as of August 10th 2017, and has 7.7 billion shares outstanding/trading. Therefore, the company is valued at $71.14 x 7.7 billion = $ 550 billion. If we take this one step further, we can see that Facebook (FB) that has a $167.40 stock price and 2.37 billion shares outstanding (market cap = $396.7 billion) is worth less than a company with a $71.41 stock price and 7.7 billion shares outstanding (market cap = $550 billion). Thus, the stock price is a relative and proportional value of a company’s worth and only represents percentage changes in market cap at any given point in time. Any percentage changes in a stock price will result in an equal percentage change in a company’s value. This is the reason why investors are so concerned with stock prices and any changes that may occur since a $0.10 drop in a stock can result in a $100,000 loss for shareholders with one million shares.

For example, a stock with a $5 stock price and 10 million shares outstanding/trading is worth $50 million ($5 x 10 million). If we take this one step further, we can see that a company that has a $10 stock price and one million shares outstanding (market cap = $10 million) is worth less than a company with a $5 stock price and 10 million shares outstanding (market cap = $50 million). Thus, the stock price is a relative and proportional value of a company’s worth and only represents percentage changes in market cap at any given point in time. Any percentage changes in a stock price will result in an equal percentage change in a company’s value. This is the reason why investors are so concerned with stock prices and any changes that may occur since a $0.10 drop in a $5 stock can result in a $100,000 loss for shareholders with one million shares.

The next logical question is: Who sets stock prices and how are they calculated? In simple terms, the stock price of a company is calculated when a company goes public, an event called an initial public offering (IPO). This is when a company pays an investment bank lots of money to use very complex formulas and valuation techniques to derive a company’s value and to determine how many shares will be offered to the public and at what price. For example, a company whose value is estimated at $100 million may want to issue 10 million shares at $10 per share or they may want to issue 20 million at $5 a share.

After a company goes public and starts trading on the exchange, its price is determined by supply and demand for its shares in the market. If there is a high demand for its shares due to favorable factors, the price would increase. If the company’s future growth potential doesn’t look good, short sellers could drive down its price.

Not All Of Retail Is Dead, Yet!

It isn’t fair to say all of retail is dead, but certain parts are indeed dying. Department stores, for example, have had a horrible 2017. The stocks of companies like Macy’s Inc. (Macy’s Inc 20.50 +0.39%), JC Penney Company Inc. (JC Penney Co Inc JCP 3.74 +1.91%), Sears Holdings Corp. (Sears Holdings Corp SHLD 8.57 -5.09%) and Nordstrom Inc. (Nordstrom Inc JWN 44.60 0.00%) have plunged, falling from 16 percent to over 60 percent over the past 52 weeks.

These retailers all have one thing in common: they are all department stores, while specialty stores like Home Depot Inc. (The Home Depot Inc HD 149.10 -0.54%) and Costco Wholesale Corp. (Costco Wholesale Corp COST 159.37 +0.42%) have fared better. Costco is trading lower by only 6.5 percent, and Home Depot trading up nearly 11 percent. In fairness to Costco, its shares only started to decline after Amazon.com Inc. (Amazon.com Inc AMZN 958.00 -0.92%) announced it plans to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. (Whole Foods Market Inc WFM 41.68-0.07%).

HD Chart

It Isn’t Because People Aren’t Spending

It isn’t so much that consumers aren’t spending, but that they are spending differently. Gone are the days of having to go to your local department store to find your favorite brands. Today, the direct-to-consumer experience is alive and well, whether it is online shopping from the brands themselves or through a third-party reseller like Amazon, or the brands having their own physical store locations.

Specialty stores like Home Depot and Costco that offer bulk purchases have been able to show solid year-over-year growth in revenue rates that have been steadily improving over recent quarters. Perhaps it is because they offer products that are harder to ship. Meanwhile, the more generalized department stores have had a much tougher time growing revenue.

HD Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

Direct To Consumer

It isn’t all gloom and doom for retail, though. Brands like Burberry Group PLC (BURBY) have had a good year, along with Zara owner Industria de Diseno Textil SA (IDEXY), and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMUY). This all shows how quickly the landscape is shifting, and at a pace that is far faster and more severe than perhaps some realize.

The way people are buying products now focuses more heavily on convenience, with direct consumer brands now cannibalizing from the very department stores they are also selling their goods in. For the brands, it makes no difference where a customer buys their products, except for some margin power. If a consumer wants to buy a Burberry polo shirt, they can purchase it from a department store, from a Burberry store, or online. In contrast, the department store has fewer ways to lure customers.



Amazon accuses Walmart of bullying in cloud computing clash

Walmart, the US’s biggest retail chain, has been accused of trying to coerce its technology suppliers into shunning Amazon’s cloud computing service.

Amazon has accused its rival of attempting to “bully” the IT companies into picking a rival platform.

The row follows a report by the Wall Street Journal, which said other unnamed large retailers had also asked vendors to shun Amazon Web Services.

The row comes at a time Amazon is expanding its shopping operations.

Last Friday, the Seattle-based business announced a $13.7bn (£10.8bn) takeover of the groceries chain Whole Foods.

And this week it revealed it had struck a deal with Nike to sell the sportswear-maker’s shoes directly, and that it was launching Prime Wardrobe – a service that lets customers order and try clothes for seven days before deciding which to buy and keep.

Amazon Web ServicesImage copyrightAWS
Image captionAWS was the most profitable part of Amazon’s business in the last quarter

Amazon’s Web Services division may not be as well known to the public as the company’s retail operations, but it is a huge money-earner.

In April, the company reported the unit had generated $3.7bn in sales over the previous three months.

The business provides computing power, online storage, security protection and developer tools to third parties.

Its clients include Netflix, Airbnb, General Electric and the CIA.

According to market research company Gartner, AWS leads the market in its field.

However, Walmart uses Microsoft’s rival Azure service.

A spokesman for Walmart acknowledged it had concerns about its suppliers’ use of AWS.

“Our vendors have the choice of using any cloud provider that meets their needs and their customers’ needs,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be a big surprise that there are cases in which we’d prefer our most sensitive data isn’t sitting on a competitor’s platform.”

Amazon suggested this approach was misguided.

“We’ve heard that Walmart continues to try to bully their suppliers into not using AWS because they have an incorrect view that AWS is somehow supporting Amazon’s retail business,” said a spokesman.

“Plenty of suppliers are standing up to Walmart and refusing to be told that they can’t use [us].

“Tactics like this are bad for business and customers and rarely carry the day.”

AWS’s use of encryption means that its own staff cannot peer into the data stored on its computer servers by its customers.

But one analyst said it was still understandable Walmart and others might not want to help send business its way.

Whole FoodsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAmazon’s takeover of Whole Foods provides it with the supply chain to expand its grocery operations

“AWS is a separate part of Amazon’s business, but ultimately this comes back to being frightened of being disrupted, especially in light of the recent acquisition of Whole Foods,” said Nick McQuire, from the consultancy CCS Insight.

“The question is whether this fear now will cause a wider backlash among retailers, where you get many within the community switching from using AWS in the cloud to Google, Microsoft or someone else.”

‘Airbnb for boats’ startup Boatsetter buys competitor Boatbound

You don’t have to be rich or T-Pain to be “on a boat.” You can rent one plus a captain for the day from Boatsetter. And now it’s got boats in more than 300 locations around the U.S. since it just acquired rival maritime marketplace Boatbound.

Boatsetter will be taking select talent from Boatbound plus logistics tech and its inventory of vessels for rental. A source familiar with the transaction said the acquisition was paid for with Boatsetter stock valued in the low-millions range.

The deal makes Boatsetter the biggest peer-to-peer boat rental service in the States, and possibly the world.

To fund future acquisitions of other competitors, Boatsetter also is announcing it has added $4.75 million in funding to its December 2016 Series A round, bringing the startup to a total of $17.75 million raised.

“The primary uses of the funds are M&A, growth and international expansion,” Boatsetter CEO Jackie Baumgarten tells me. When asked if she’ll go after European counterpart Click To Boat, she said, “I think we’re best poised for a roll-up strategy. There’s an opportunity to acquire and roll up several of the players. It’s ripe for consolidation.”

Everyone’s a captain

Boatbound launched back in 2013, well before Boatsetter, and raised more than $5 millionfrom 500 Startups, equity crowdfunding platforms and boat manufacturer Brunswick.

The company went on to process more than $25 million in booking requests. However, it also faced complaints about safety and insurance after a woman lost her leg in an accidentafter renting through Boatbound. The startup didn’t require people to rent a captain with a boat as Boatsetter does, which delayed rescue procedures after the renter was sucked into the boat’s propeller.

Boatbound quieted down since moving from San Francisco to Seattle 2016 to cut costs and push towards profitability. Now the nationally available service is somewhat oddly being acquired by a competitor that was only operating in one state.


The combined company hopes things will sail smoothly thanks to Boatbound’s technology for routing rental requests and Boatsetter’s focus on insurance.

Based out of Florida, Boatsetter is a three-party marketplace where private boat owners and professional charter companies, captains and renters meet. Users can pick from nearby boats, rent one with a captain attached or pick a separate captain, and quickly get out on the water at an affordable price. Since the private owners are just trying to make back some of the non-stop expenses of keeping a boat afloat, Boatsetter can be cheaper than going through a traditional rental company.

Baumgarten actually started a peer-to-peer boating insurance company called Cruzin that later merged with Boatsetter. That’s how Boatsetter provides $1 million in liability coverage, $2 million in boat damage coverage, plus additional umbrella coverage to make renters feel safe.

Boatsetter says it has 5,000 vetted boats available, and is poised for 5X growth this year to hit over 10,000 rentals. That’s because Boatsetter has only concentrated on Florida, while Boatbound works with vessels across the country. The business model sees Boatsetter take 28 percent of the rental fee from the owner, 10 percent of the captain’s fee and adds a 7.5 percent booking fee to the renter. Those combine into a healthy margin, considering Boatsetter doesn’t own or upkeep any boats.

Experience > possession

Now the 27-person startup has a new channel to chase the estimated $50 billion yearly total addressable market for boat rentals. Boatsetter has partnered with Airbnb’s new experiences platform to let people pay to learn to sail in the San Francisco Bay, take a lesson from a pro wakeboarder in Miami or have paella cooked fresh onboard by a chef in Barcelona.

Boatsetter’s biggest challenge will be developing awareness. Most people assume they need a ton of money or boating skills to get out on the water. But the world is shifting from a materialistic culture to an experiential culture. It’s why Airbnb is blowing up.

People want to do amazing things they can capture on their camera phones and share on their social networks. They want memories. And it’s hard to top gliding over the waves with friends on your own private boat… even if it’s just for the afternoon.

Netherlands and UK are biggest channels for corporate tax avoidance

The two countries are conduits for 37% of money heading to tax havens, most of which have strong links to Britain

Almost 40% of corporate investments channelled away from authorities and into tax havens travel through the UK or the Netherlands, according to a study of the ownership structures of 98m firms.

The two EU states are way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of being a preferred option for corporations who want to exploit tax havens to protect their investments.

The Netherlands was a conduit for 23% of corporate investments that ended in a tax haven, a team of researchers at the University of Amsterdam concluded. The UK accounted for 14%, ahead of Switzerland (6%), Singapore (2%) and Ireland (1%).

Every year multinationals avoid paying £38bn-£158bn in taxes in the EU using tax havens. In the US, tax evasion by multinational corporations via offshore jurisdictions is estimated to be at least $130bn (£99bn) a year.

The researchers reported that there were 24 so-called “sink” offshore financial centres where foreign capital was ultimately stored, safe from the tax authorities.

Of those, 18 are said to have a current or past dependence to the UK, such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Jersey.

The tax havens used correlated heavily to which conduit country was chosen by the multinational’s accountants.

The UK is a major conduit for investments going to European countries and former members of the British Empire, such as Hong Kong, Jersey, Guernsey or Bermuda, reflecting the historical links and tax treaties enjoyed by firms setting up in Britain. The Netherlands is a principal conduit for investment ending in Cyprus and Bermuda, among others. Switzerland is used as a conduit to Jersey. Ireland is the route for Japanese and American companies to Luxembourg.

In terms of the purpose, on paper, of the corporate structures, the Netherlands specialises in providing holding companies. The UK provides head offices and fund management and Ireland offers financial leasing and the provision of head offices.

“Our results show that offshore finance is not the exclusive business of exotic small islands far away,” the researchers write in an article for theacademic journal Scientific Reports. “Countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom play a crucial yet previously hidden role as conduits of offshore finance on its way to tax havens.”

Dr Eelke Heemskerk, who led the research, said that the work showed the importance of developed countries cleaning up their financial sectors.

He said: “In the context of Brexit, where you have the UK threatening, unless they get a deal, to change their model to be attractive to companies who want to protect themselves from taxes, well, they are already doing it.

“The Netherlands says they won’t let the UK be an offshore tax haven. That’s because they don’t want them taking their business.”