In this episode, second of a new series titled “Pithy Conversations with CEOs,” Trusted Counsel’s Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak to Liz Harvey, CEO of Island Windjammers. Island Windjammers provides cruises in the Eastern Caribbean to seasoned travelers, the kind who’d likely turn their back on overcrowded massive impersonal cruise lines. Liz's guests cruise on any of the three Island Windjammer’s ships; Diamant, Sagitta, or Vela, and happily spend their recreational dollars for the experience of smaller ships (10 – 26 guests). Experiences include; visits to smaller islands in the Caribbean, exploring quaint villages, and having more personal activities such as snorkeling and beach barbecues.
Incorporated in 2008 by principal founder Liz and a small group of investors, today, a large part of the ships fan base have invested in the company under Rule 506(c). We commented to Liz (whose past full-time job was as an operating room nurse) the idea that she’s raised capital in a very innovative way. Liz simply shrugged her shoulders and stated simply “Well, I’d never raised money before so I didn’t know how it was done. I just did it one way.”
The conversation with Trusted Counsel revolved around how Liz started the business, what she’s learned with respect to running a seasonal business, virtual management, and her sharp focus on the future. Success for Island Windjammers is all three ships averaging 80 percent or better occupancy over the course of the year. In 2017, when Caribbean tourism drastically decreased due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, survival was difficult for Island Windjammers. Rather than throwing her hands up in the air and doing nothing, Liz and her team started a GoFundMe page. Using the small yacht, she and her team collected and sent relief items to ravished islands, and anything to help out. “Those are our friends out there too. Friends of our crew member’s families, it really hit pretty close to home,” Liz told us.
When Liz is not busy managing her business virtually, you can find her at Roswell Surgery Center in Georgia. Yes, she’s still an operating room nurse who’s always willing to help, although she’s no longer working there full-time.
During the course of the podcast, CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:
- What led Liz to form Island Windjammers
- Her best tactic for marketing the business
- How she's able to manage her team virtually from the United States
- Her experience with fundraising and taking advantage of Rule 506(c)
- How she managed to solidify her business when 2017 hurricanes hit hard and nearly decimated her ships and the business
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