Q&A: Jaclyn Baumgarten on her transition from startup founder to investor

Once at the helm of Boatsetter, Baumgarten charts new path as Managing Partner of IDC Ventures

By Riley Kaminer

Fort Lauderdale-based Jaclyn Baumgarten spent over a decade building Boatsetter, a technology- and data-driven global marketplace that aims to make on-demand boating accessible and affordable to anyone, anywhere. Under her leadership, Boatsetter experienced rapid growth, including M&A activity, multiple rounds of funding, and partnerships with major brands such as Geico. Her vision and strategic direction helped Boatsetter become a leader in the sharing economy, revolutionizing the boat rental industry.

Last January, Baumgarten and her Board hired a new CEO for Boatsetter. Shortly thereafter, she joined IDC Ventures, a global venture capital firm with a major presence in Miami, to spearhead the VC’s expansion into the US market. Refresh Miami sat down with Baumgarten to hear all about her plans for the new role.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Refresh Miami: Why did you decide to join a VC rather than start another company?

Jaclyn Baumgarten: Joining a venture capital firm offered me a natural progression in my career. As a founder, I’ve had to wear multiple hats – whether it was product development, fundraising, or building strategic partnerships. It gave me valuable insights, but I also recognized that others were better suited for certain functions within the business.

When I stepped back from my CEO role, I initially considered taking on more board roles, drawing on my experience and offering a fresh perspective to companies. However, multiple funds approached me about joining them as an investor, presenting a compelling argument about leveraging my strengths in a different capacity. In the VC role, I’ve been able to operate in my areas of excellence – strategic thinking, fundraising, and mentorship.

What I value most in this new position is the ability to bring empathy and firsthand experience to the table when working with founders. I can anticipate challenges they might face and offer actionable advice, something that sets me apart from other investor board members. Overall, this role aligns perfectly with my skills and interests, allowing me to make a meaningful impact.

Why are you excited about joining IDC Ventures in particular?

What excites me most about joining IDC Ventures is its unique investment approach. Unlike typical investors, IDC Ventures starts with Series A investments and maintains a hands-on involvement by taking board seats. This provides us with asymmetric information that allows us to identify companies worth intensively supporting. We don’t just double down on these companies – we triple down, backing them through their growth stages. However, our growth capital is specifically invested in companies we’ve been deeply involved with, ensuring we’re fully aligned with their long-term strategies. This targeted approach mitigates risk and creates a beneficial synergy between the firm and its portfolio companies.

I also really enjoy working with the mission-driven, global team. I like how IDCV has a community-driven mindset, involving LPs that can add tangible value to our portfolio companies.

What are your plans for this new role at IDCV?

I am responsible for overseeing the expansion and growth of IDC Ventures in the US. My role will focus on three key areas: capital networks, operations, and portfolio management. I am establishing infrastructure to expand our network to include the right family offices and investors in the U.S. 

As a FinTech and marketplace-focused fund, I aim to scale and optimize our existing portfolio while doubling down on new opportunities in the marketplace sector. 

Lastly, for portfolio management, I’ll be concentrating on identifying high-growth potential companies with the right management teams. We’ll ensure these companies are not only successful but also well-positioned for future growth and scalability. All these elements will culminate in a distinct U.S. fund that serves as a feeder into our primary fund in Denmark. This multi-faceted approach allows us to deepen our impact and broaden our reach.

Tell us more about the opportunity IDC Ventures sees in the US market.

IDC Ventures sees a unique opportunity in the U.S. market to round out our global strategy. Our portfolio is designed to be distributed evenly across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. This diverse allocation allows us to assist companies looking to expand internationally, be it into Latin America, Europe, or the U.S., leveraging our network of ultra-high net worth and influential limited partners. Our team has localized expertise across these regions, making us uniquely positioned to guide companies in their expansion efforts. Thus, enhancing our presence in the U.S. is a critical component of our comprehensive global approach.

What marketplace trends are you keeping an eye on these days?

Current trends in marketplaces show a favorable environment for sharing and gig economy companies. The macroeconomic landscape, influenced by factors like inflation and job loss, is driving people toward alternative sources of revenue, making these platforms increasingly popular. We’re seeing segments of power users emerge who start using services like Boatsetter recreationally and then realize the potential for meaningful income. The flexibility offered by the gig economy enables people to either supplement their income or create full-fledged businesses.

Generational shifts are also impacting the marketplace. Both Gen X and Millennials are more interested in experiencing rather than owning assets, which reduces the burden of ownership for infrequently used items. Successful marketplaces are increasingly focused on key performance indicators such as Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost (LTV/CAC) ratios, cohort analysis, and retention rates. 

Additionally, the role of insurance is evolving, with companies revamping their offerings to better suit the needs of these marketplaces. Given these trends, IDC Ventures aims to become a leading fund in this space. While we currently have a strong focus on fintech, the marketplace sector is also ideal for our investment strategy.

What advice would you give to early-stage entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurship hinges on three key pillars: Tenacity, Team Building, and Ecosystem Creation.

First, tenacity is non-negotiable. Reshape your view of failure; see it as a stepping stone, not a setback. This mindset helps you navigate the inevitable challenges.

Second, invest in team building. A diverse team fosters creativity. Remove toxicity quickly and use equity as a tool to align interests with long-term goals.

Finally, cultivate a strong ecosystem. Network with mentors and advisors early on. Your connections can offer invaluable expertise and opportunities.

As the CEO, remember that fundraising is crucial. It’s your responsibility to keep the company solvent. These principles, in my experience, are foundational for any aspiring entrepreneur.

Looking forward, what impact do you hope to have on the startup ecosystem globally through your work at IDCV?

My mission is clear and simple: I want to create more opportunities to scale companies that can positively impact the lives of millions through disruptive and innovative technology. Much more to come soon!

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Riley Kaminer