Captain Nitzan Levy: Founder, Sailors NYC

My NativeAdVantage:


Captain Nitzan Levy was born in the U.S. and grew up along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast, where she developed a lifelong passion for the sea and water sports. Capt. Levy saw a business opportunity upon her arrival in New York in 2009. While looking for recreational community sailing opportunities in the city, online searches yielded very limited sailing options. Unable to find what she was looking for, she decided to establish a sailors club that would provide cost-effective, easy access to year-round activities on a fleet of medium sized (25'-40') sailing vessels. In her free time, she enjoys theater, dance, music, art – and, of course – sailing. Sailors NYC is offering year round social and educational activities including: sailing instruction, club sailing, bareboat chartering for club members, sailing camps, weekend cruises and sailing flotillas abroad.

What do I do best?

I'm a people's person. I am curious to hear people's stories, desires and aspirations, and I genuinely find it rewarding to be able to add value to people I meet – sometimes it is by offering a different perspective, sometimes it's by connecting them with the right people and sometimes it's just being a sounding board to their thoughts. When I meet with people for the first time – whether it's for business or on a social occasion – I ask a lot of questions in order for me to get to know them better and be able to connect to them their way.  

What makes me the best version of myself?

I am very stubborn. My stubbornness won't let me quit and I persist – even if it means having to go a few steps backwards in order to move forward towards my destination. Over the years I learned to listen to my surrounding more – which many times helps me contently improve and adjust my path as well as gives me joy of the journey.

What are my aspirations?

I would like to see my company – Sailors NYC – as a leading shared economy business for recreational sailors globally. I believe that similar to home ownership and car ownership, boat ownership is moving in that direction and I am committed to be a leader of that trend in the industry. Personally – I would like to own a boat that I would sail around the world along with my family and friends (not all at once, each time a different leg).

My Biggest Success?

They say that if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. In my case – and it might be ironic – NYC is the ONLY place I feel successful in. I feel pride in starting and running a business in NYC for over 5 years. And I am also happy I made my dream – to live in NYC – a reality that keeps challenging and intriguing me constantly.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Between the years 2005-2009 I owned a flower shop in Tel Aviv together with my mom. The business had gone through great challenges that took a toll on my relationship with my mom. The reason I wanted to get into business with her was because I loved her, enjoyed spending time with her and felt that we could be a great working team. At some point I felt that my relationship with my mom changed so much and that I no longer felt our mother-daughter connection anymore. Our conversations were always about the business, we were not able to leave disagreements behind and we didn't give each other a break. It felt unhealthy and destructive to our relationship. In 2009 we decided to sell the business and move on to our separate lives in order to be able to get back to being a mother and daughter. Luckily it was the right decision and my mom and I are back being very close.     

My Motto?

“You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water” -  Rabindranath Tagore.

I am a doer and I believe in that quote whole heartedly. When my life gets to a place where I need to take hard decisions or choices – I try to weigh my options using the mantra, usually while watching the ocean.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I don't have a role model... I am inspired by different people and different stories but I can't really say I follow someone entirely. I'm just not that type of person...

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Cuba! I first visited Cuba in 2003 and while sitting at the beach in Varadero (east of Havana) I promised myself to get back there on a sailboat. In November 2016 I lead a flotilla of 3 boats and 20 women from Key West to Cuba – which was a remarkable experience. I have organized two more sailing vacations in Cuba since then (April and November of 2017) and plan to hold the 4th one on November 2018. Cuba is time capsule, and visiting there is like nowhere else in the world. It brings back memories of times that were much simpler and human. The Cuban people are outgoing, curious and have a great sense of humor – and every time I go there I feel like homecoming...

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I love my iPhone! I really don't know how I lived life before it... It might sound shallow – but I truly believe that this is one of the best inventions of the 21st century to date.

I recently got my first prescription glasses in Warby Parker – I enjoyed everything about the experience: from getting help to find the right frame for me, through the ordering process and the service I got after a couple of months. AND - The product is good and the price is amazing.

My Current Passions?

My business is my passion. As the years go by I feel the passion in different aspects. For instance: last year's goal was to strengthen the club experience to our members, so it won't be just about going to sail. We started a line of Docktails – cocktails on the dock – which bring both members and prospective members together, we added a racing program, we encouraged more members to go on our international flotillas, we enriched our winter program –  and the results are great.

This year's goal is to get more people on our team so the business could work more efficiently and achieve its financial objectives. Ever since I started the club I was a one-woman show. It wasn't a choice – it just seemed that I wasn't able to find the right people to work with, and since the work still needed to be done – I simply mastered skills I wasn't necessarily good at. I am dedicating this off season time to finding the right people to work with, both employees and contractors. I have set a plan and goals and I am excited every morning for the new day's challenges in achieving these goals.