New app could change boating culture at Lake of the Ozarks - KMOV.com

New app could change boating culture at Lake of the Ozarks

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The Anchor App (Credit: KMOV) The Anchor App (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Many St. Louis families head to the Lake of the Ozarks to enjoy their weekends in the summer. Now, a young tech entrepreneur is trying to change the way people get around on the water there.

Memorial Day weekend, Zach Hatraf launched the app "Anchor." Many are comparing the app to Uber. In a way, though, it's amazing the lake version of ride-sharing even exists considering, at one point, the app's founder wanted nothing to do with the Missouri destination.

"Eleven years ago, my best friend actually died at the Lake of the Ozarks," said Hatraf. He said his friend was on a jet ski when it collided with a boat. "Oh ya, wrote it off completely. Once I found out about [his] death, I wrote the Lake of the Ozarks off completely for two years.”

When Hatraf finally made his way back to the lake, he said he realized how hard it was to find a sober driver for boats.

That's when he jumped into his first business, "Who's Your Captain."

"All we did then was provide a sober driver for your boat. This is the next step in that evolution," Hatraf said.

In 2016, he started working on the new app, "Anchor." Hatraf has previous tech experience, building IT teams for some of St. Louis' top companies. The app launched the last weekend in May 2017.

"Private boat owners are using our app to connect with people on the land to get a ride on their boat. So we are really connecting existing boaters who would already be out for the day and connecting with other people who want to do the same exact thing," said Hatraf.

It works a lot like Uber, except on the water and the drivers transport riders on their boat. He said they already have more than 60 drivers signed up. He said they do background checks on each driver, making sure they have no history of violence, theft, or driving under the influence.

"All through your phone, you can just tap on your app, go through a list of drivers, a list of boats available, and select who you want to come and get you," said Hatraf.

In its first weekend up and running, Hatraf said more than 200 charters were coordinated through his app.

"It was quite a success but didn’t come without its challenges. I mean we got hit by a tornado Saturday that knocked down three cell phone towers. Talk about the most challenging weekend you could have and we still came out on top with quite successful stats," said Hatraf.

He said they are still tweaking pricing but right now, it's about $15 per person, per ride.

While Hatraf said if the app saves a single life, it will be worth it, he is still hoping to turn the technology into a lucrative business.

"We’re just working out the kinks at the Lake of the Ozarks. We'll take over that lake first and then we are going to start branching out to other lakes," said Hatraf.

He hopes to make his app the go-to place for transportation and safety on the water, including pre-planned charters and water sports lessons and rentals.

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