The goal of the Finnish startup Skipperi is to increase accessibility for boating through technology and for that the Helsinki-based company is now planning to expand its sharing and subscription platform to Australia and the US after recently receiving €7 million in funding.
Yamaha Motor spearheaded the €7 million Series A fundraising round, including participation from Baltiska Handels Sverige, Matu Capital, and HP Capital.
The funding total now stands at €12.6 million.
Boating has long been viewed as a costly, time-consuming, and mostly male-dominated hobby. With the need for boat ownership, maintenance, storage, insurance, and more, it’s not a casual activity for everyone.
However, Skipperi, a Helsinki-based startup founded by Anna-Leena and Kristian Raij in 2017, is working to change that through its peer-to-peer boat rental platform and shared-use boating subscription service. With recent funding, the company is now expanding into international markets, making boating more accessible and easier for everyone.
Skipperi’s CEO and co-founder Kristian Raij says, “We aim to lower the entry barrier into boating and make space in the boating community for everyone. Boating has historically been very expensive and difficult to access; we see that over 53% of our consumers subscribe because they can’t afford to buy a boat.”
Kristian Raij added, “Therefore, our goal is to attract more new boaters, and thanks to this financing, we can develop our business and help more people safely enjoy this lovely hobby.”
Skipperi Fleet and Skipperi Rent are its two main offerings as part of its mission to make boating accessible to everyone. The former is a shared-use boating membership service that allows registered users to utilize any of Skipperi’s boats at any time, anywhere.
Users of Skipperi Hire have access to a peer-to-peer rental marketplace where boat owners can offer their vessels for rent to other qualified boaters. As a result, the company offers a service that leverages the sharing and circular economies, offers a reasonable membership option, and democratizes access to this once-exclusive sport.
The Skipperi app simplifies the boat rental process, enabling users to hire boats and access docks and keys directly from the app. At the end of each boating day, users only need to refill the boat’s essentials and Skipperi takes care of the rest, including maintenance, equipment, insurance, and boat availability.
The boats in Skipperi’s fleet are equipped with life jackets for passengers of all ages and other necessary safety gear.
To ensure boating safety for all, Skipperi offers training through its Skipperi Academy, requiring boaters to pass its boating exam or have the required local permissions.
We also want to promote the idea that it’s acceptable to be a beginner boater and to practice parking and missing the buoy, according to Kristian Raij. We need to eradicate the judgmental mindset that many people have toward novice boaters.
The Finnish team is also dedicated to using data to improve the customer experience, which is a key trend in TravelTech at the moment. To this purpose, the platform makes use of geofencing and AI to provide users with in-the-moment information about boating conditions including shallow waters, speed limits or upper limits in harbor regions, dangerous zones, and locations designated as protected habitats for birds and seals.
It operates using the GPS signal from the onboard chartplotter, and when a boater, for instance, exceeds the speed restriction, a notification appears on the plotter screen and a warning sound is played. Additionally, it uses artificial intelligence to detect instances of boat damage, notifying the service crew of the problem and sending its location.
Additionally, the data offers some intriguing insights, such as the fact that men are 7% more likely to run into rocks than women. Additionally, Skipperi is dedicated to encouraging more women to take up boating and works with organizations that support this cause, like She Captain in Sweden.
The business now has over 400 boats available in 6 countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada), with aspirations to expand to the US and Australia—two significant boating markets—shortly.
The startup had a successful year before the financing. More than 40k reservations were made with Fleet in 2022. With international expansion planned and the startup’s connections to the circular economy gaining popularity, it will be intriguing to watch what comes next.
“Skipperi is a crucial partner for us,” says Toshiaki Ibata, Chief General Manager of Yamaha Motor’s Marine Business Operations. “It is the only tech company that has created and is currently using a productive digital platform that can deliver seamless services to aid more people in enjoying the ocean and address the ineffective and expensive daily operations many boat club businesses deal with.”
“Through this investment, we intend to strengthen our partnership and hasten the growth of the sharing economy,” Toshiaki continued.
Image Credit: Skipperi