Strandbutler wants to digitize German beaches – and is getting paid for it

Because they no longer wanted to be bothered by occupied sunbeds on their North Sea vacation, three Hamburg residents created a booking portal. Is this scalable?

They have created a sunbed booking portal (from left): Jens Hinrichs, Bernhard Sourdeau and Christian Henk.
beach butler

If the sun is too strong on a Baltic Sea swimming holiday, there’s really only one thing that can help – seek shade, maybe even a sunbed. If there weren’t many other tourists preventing you. Or lack cash to pay rental fees when there is no card machine nearby. A luxury dilemma that Hamburg startup Strandbutler, founded in 2021, wants to solve with an online booking system. The founders have now raised a seven-figure sum from investors for their tool.

Several business angels, such as Lucius Bunk from the shipping company Auerbauch Schiffahrt invested around 1.2 million euros in the start-up in the seed round. Hamburgers want to use the money to further expand their platform and team.

Founders Christian Henk, Bernhard Sourdeau and Jens Hinrichs organize sunbeds on German coasts and islands online or via an app. This allows holidaymakers to check the availability of sunbeds, see prices and book and pay for positions before going to the beach. Baskets can be opened digitally on the spot via Bluetooth or with key cards. “The idea, of course, is that you don’t have to queue at a beach stall to get the key. However, we often give classic keys, especially to older guests,” says founder Christian Henk.

Commission up to ten percent

The trio currently works with more than 50 sunbed rentals, for example in Kampen on Sylt, Nieblum on the island of Föhr and Cuxhaven. The advantage: Higher sales through digital presence, the startup claims. The Hamburg company also takes care of customer service. Partner rental companies must pay a discount of between three and ten percent per booking.

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According to Strandbutler, there are around 400 sunbed rentals across Germany that could become potential customers. The startup’s model is closely related to the German market: in other European countries such as France and Italy, both locals and tourists often spread out their towels by the sea. However, founder Christian Henk isn’t worried about expanding his startup: “Right now, our focus is clearly on making Germany big, and there’s still plenty of room with around 100,000 sunbeds in total.” Hamburger also imagine working with sunbed rental companies in Mallorca and the Mediterranean area, for example.

Temperatures over 40 degrees – the beach butler was fully booked

According to their own statements, the Hamburg-based company has so far registered more than 12,000 bookings through its portal this season. During the extreme heat of the past few days, the complex was fully booked at times, says Henk of the start-up scene. In the future, the founders want to expand their range of services to include other services. For example, you can now order snacks and drinks from the surrounding cafes and bars from your deckchair. Customers can access the menus via QR codes attached to the inside of the baskets. Holidaymakers are currently required to pick up their food orders themselves. “We are talking to two restaurants in Borkum to offer our own delivery service,” says Henk.

In addition to sunbeds, Hamburg residents are working to rent water toys, SUP boards, lockers and mobile phone charging stations online – this still means a lot of work. However, the founders make time for their own vacations. Henk: “Just got back from Sylt. But I also want to enjoy Mallorca with my family next week – and talk to one or the other sunbed owner.”

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