Preference problems become brand new career
Ciara Farrow has spent the past seven years as a purser and chief stew on programs around the world. Today she is putting her yachting experience to a different use as founder of Seven Star, the first interior management software for private and charter vessels. For Triton’s new “Offboarding” column, we asked Ciara to share her journey from seafarer to software entrepreneur.
What is Seven Star all about?
Seven Star is digital preference sheet software that helps interior crew deliver seven-star guest experiences. It’s a simple app where crew can look up and update guest preferences on their phones, iPads, and computers — and it even generates time-stamped printouts so that preferences are always up to date and reflect anything new that crew are learning about the guests.
Where did the idea come from?
I’ve always dreamed of starting my own company and first joined yachting so I could save money to fund a startup. As I was working my way up the ranks and joining new programs, I was always creating organizational systems to make crew life easier and more productive on board — from provisioning spreadsheets to color-coded laundry bags.
But when it came to the guests, I realized preference sheets were where things went off the rails. Binders were hard to find or missing pages, and new preferences were scribbled in the margins of printed pages or stuck in crew WhatsApp chats, only to disappear when new crew members were onboarded and new copies were printed.
I realized if we just had a digital version that the crew could access and update in one place, we would avoid a lot of the problems I saw and free the crew up to deliver really great service for guests.
How did you get started?
The first version was something I built for myself and my crew, with a simple spreadsheet and Word doc that I could update and print out every day. But as I started talking to friends on other vessels, I learned they were facing a lot of the same problems and were really excited when I showed them my very simple tool. I realized a lot of people could benefit from something like this, but it would need to be a lot more interactive and secure than just a spreadsheet, and as easy to use as WhatsApp or a pen.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
When I first started, I was given advice that I should learn how to build software myself because the app would grow and change over time, and it would be too expensive and slow to hire an outside developer. A friend told me about Bubble, a no-code app-building tool, and I started taking online classes and teaching myself how to build software. Soon I found Airtable, Stacker, and some of the other tools that Seven Star is built on. As a chief stew with no technical background, this was like learning a whole new language and there were days that were really frustrating and full of self-doubt. But I am so glad that I did it!
What’s been the feedback so far?
It’s still early, but I’ve been working with the first few programs and the feedback so far has been incredible. There are already plenty of digital tools for captains and engineers, but the interior staff has been overlooked — despite having the most contact with owners and guests. So everyone who sees and uses it is really excited and feels like they have been heard. Beyond that, I have been getting some really great feedback from the crew about features they want, so I am tweaking things all of the time.
How can people try it out?
Crew members, captains, and owners can sign up at sevenstar.software to set up an onboarding session and a free trial. We start by uploading their existing preferences, and then we can customize any of the fields or areas that are unique to their vessel or program.
“Offboarding” is a new Triton series that hgihglights the many ways crew use their yachting experience to build new careers ashore. Got a story to share? Let us know at CREW@TRITONNEWS.COM