Finnish startup Skipperi is on a mission to use tech to make boating more accessible. Based in Helsinki, the team has just secured €7 million and now plans to bring its sharing and subscription platform to Australia and the US.
Boating has traditionally been seen as an exclusive pastime. Something that is expensive, requires years of training and fairly male-dominated. It’s also not something you can really do casually – owning a boat is expensive and it requires near-constant upkeep, and that’s without mentioning storage, insurance and so forth. Put simply, the joy of hitting the open water hasn’t always been available to everyone.
Founded in 2017 by Anna-Leena Raij and Kristian Raij, Skipperi wants to change that by leveraging tech. The Helsinki-born startup has developed a shared-use boating subscription service and peer-to-peer boat rental platform that is making boating accessible and hassle-free. It’s just secured new investment and is now setting sail to international markets.
- €7 million raised in Series A funding
- The round was led by Yamaha Motor, with Baltiska Handels Sverige, Matu Capital, and HP Capital also participating
- This brings the total funding amount to €12.6 million
Kristian Raij, CEO and Co-founder of Skipperi: “We want to create low threshold access into boating and create room in the boating community for everyone. Boating has been traditionally quite hard to access, requiring a lot of time and money – we see that over 53% of our users subscribe due to owning a boat being too expensive. So we aim to get more new people into boating, and this investment means we can expand our operations to get more people safely enjoying this wonderful hobby.”
Skipperi provides two main services as part of its goal to bring boating to the masses: Skipperi Fleet and Skipperi Rent. The former is a shared-use boating subscription service where registered users can enjoy unlimited use of any of the boats in any of Skipperi’s locations. Meanwhile, with Skipperi Rent, users access a peer-to-peer rental platform where boat owners can rent out their boats to other qualified boaters. The startup, therefore, provides a service that taps into the sharing and circular economy, provides an affordable subscription option, and democratises access to this previously exclusive sport.
The entire process is done via the Skipperi app – including booking the boat and accessing the dock and keys.
Once the day’s boating is complete, users simply refuel the boat, replacing what they have used, so the boat is ready for the next day’s adventure. The boats in Skipperi Fleet are also kitted out with life jackets for passengers of all ages, in addition to other necessary safety equipment.
Skipperi takes care of the boats’ maintenance, equipment, insurance, and boat availability. To make sure that boating is safe for new and experienced boaters alike, Skipperi offers theoretical and practical training through its Skipperi Academy and requires boaters to pass Skipperi’s boating exam or have all locally required permits.
Kristian Raij: “We also want to encourage that it’s okay to be a beginner in boating – it’s okay to miss the buoy and practice parking. We need to get rid of the judgmental attitude many people have about beginner boaters.”
The Finnish team is also committed to harnessing the power of data to enhance the customer’s experience – a major theme we are witnessing in traveltech at the moment. To this end, the platform uses geofencing and AI to give members real-time insights on boating conditions such as shallow waters, speed restrictions, or maximum speeds in harbour areas, hazardous zones, and protected areas for birds and seals. It works via the onboard chartplotter’s GPS signal, and there is a notification on the plotter screen and a warning sound when a boater is, for example, exceeding the speed limit. Its AI also helps to identify damage cases to the boat, sending its location and a notification to the service team to repair it.
The data also provides some interesting insights – for example, men are 7% more likely to hit rocks than women. Skipperi is also committed to getting more women into boating and cooperates with organisations promoting female boating, such as She Captain in Sweden.
Currently, the startup offers over 400 boats across 6 locations (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada), with plans to now expand to the US and Australia – two big boating markets.
The investment comes after an impressive year for the startup. In 2022, over 40k reservations were made with Fleet. The startup’s connections to the circular economy are proving popular and now, with international expansion in the pipeline, it’ll be interesting to see what is next on the horizon.
Toshiaki Ibata, Chief General Manager of Marine Business Operations at Yamaha Motor: “Skipperi is an essential partner for us. It’s the only tech company that has developed and is already operating an efficient digital platform capable of providing seamless services to help more people enjoy the ocean and solve the inefficient and high-cost daily operations many boat club businesses face. We hope to create a stronger relationship and accelerate the development of the sharing economy through this investment,”