Water Taxi | An Interview With Andy Nottidge
By Steve Gillman
The Naples Bay Water shuttle runs a route in Naples, Florida,
stopping at waterfront restaurants, bars, and hotels. As the
company website explains, this fixed route makes it more of a
water bus service than a water taxi. Customers pay just $5 to
get on and off as many times and at as many places as they like
during the evening. My wife and I used the service more than
once when we were in Naples, getting on board at the Bayfront
Inn, where we were staying (just north of Tin City). We loved
the boat, the ride, the scenery - and the $3 beer and wine sold
The boat, called the Blue Pelican, can hold up to 24 passengers.
Our captain was Andy Nottidge. His partner, Dan, runs the shuttle
on alternating days. I asked Andy a few questions about their
What did you do before you stared
your water taxi business?
Both Dan and I have
full-time jobs. We started this up as a side business in the
evenings. I work in HR and Dan works in retail management.
What made you decide to start
My love of water, boats, and a distinct need for this service
in Naples. Can you imagine a waterfront community without a water
You sell beer and wine, which
is a wonderful extra for passengers. Was it difficult to get
a license to offer these?
No, actually that was the easy part. Getting the business
approved through the city was the hardest part and working through
You also offer chartered trips for
groups. What types of trips are commonly requested, and do you
make more money from these or from the regular route you run
Charters can be lucrative. If the price is right and the amount
exceeds the average take for that particular night, I will accept
a charter. However, I will never do too many as to disrupt the
reliability of the taxi service.
Naples is a destination for quite
a few wealthy and/or famous individuals, and there was at least
one congressman on the boat when we were onboard. Have you had
many celebrities use your service?
We have. We have fortune 500 CEOs, sports figures, etc. However,
we never make them feel any different than the other passengers.
I value everyone equally because they are all paying the same
fare to ride. But it is cool to see someone famous on your boat!
It must have been a major investment
- particularly in the boat - to start this service, but I understand
you survived your first year just fine and might make a decent
profit this year. Do you have a goal for revenue and net profit
in the coming years, and can you tell us what it is?
My initial goal was to make a profit at year 5. We are well
ahead of that. We should make a modest profit this year ...all
of this has been done without spending a dime on advertising.
We rely solely on word of mouth.
If someone wants to start something
like this in their own community, what tips can you offer based
on your experience so far?
Offer a good product at a good price and exceed expectations...the
people will come and, more importantly, come back. Don't get
too greedy and out price your customers. Remember it's about
the fun of running a business that is your own...if the profits
come...then you know you are doing a good job.
Do you enjoy your work?
For more information visit the website of the Naples
Bay Water Shuttle.