Anna-Leena and Kristian Raij from Helsinki wanted to rent a boat, preferably from a private person and as uncomplicated as possible, preferably via website. But they couldn’t find a suitable rental platform. Shortly after, they developed their own boatsharing platform and founded Skipperi in 2017.
Since then, they have been concentrating entirely on boat rentals. Their aim was to make boating easier, more sustainable and accessible to everyone. With their peer-to-peer platform, specialized in the joint use of private boats, the founders obviously hit the right nerve.
After the launch of service in 2017, the number of registered and available boats has doubled every year. Today, around 700 owners offer sailing and motorboats of various brands for temporary use via Skipperi. A total of 1,069 boats were booked in 2019, said founder Kristian Raij to float. Skipperi is merely the „mediator“, the platform operator. The owners of the website charge a fee for their service and don’t do the handling.
Boats should be used frequently
The best thing for a boat is when it’s moved frequently. Just like cars rust when they stand still, the quality of boats suffers when they are not used often. With an average of 30 operating hours a year which are typical for a motorboat today, a boat remains unused for a lot of time.
Sharing can be a solution here, Skipperi claims. Boat owners can reduce costs by renting their boats. The best thing about sharing, of course, is that more people get on the water – even those who can’t afford a boat themselves.
If more people enjoy their leisure time on the water with the existing number of boats, the more fun for everybody, so the idea according to Skipperi.
Private boat owners register their boat on Skipperi and enter the boat information, pictures, prices and times of availability. Each boat owner is clearly identified. Possible boat hirers first fill out a CV. He or she enters the information about their own boat experience, training and the ratings of other boat owners. If someone wants to book a particular boat, the boat owners decide on the basis of this information whether they want to rent their boat to this particular person.
All payments are made via the platform. Skipperi automatically creates an individual digital rental contract. The owner receives the rent when the boat is back. Both the boat user and the owner then carry out a mutual evaluation. Skipperi takes a commission of 13.5 % for the handling.
Usually the boat owners take care of the handling themselves when renting their boat. Skipperi also offers the handling of the complete rental process as service. All boats must be insured for rental. Skipperi works together with Alandia, the largest boat insurance company in Scandinavia. Those who have insured their boat with Alandia are automatically also insured for skipper.fi rental.
The City Boat subscription
Since 2018 Skipperi also offers a City Boat Service on a subscription basis. For a fixed fee, registered users can rent boats in various ports in Helsinki – and sail as many boats as they like. In contrast to boatsharing between private owners, users pay monthly for Skipperi’s own boats, staggered by boat type.
A rowing boat costs 49 euros a month. The basic rate for a motorboat is 129 euros without weekends, the “plus rate” 249 euros including weekends. 15 boats ran in the last season in the city boat fleet. 1,823 trips were booked. Skipperi CEO Kristian Raij explains that the next season will see around 120 boats and 18,000 trips.
Building on the success in Finland, the service is to be introduced throughout Scandinavia. In the year 2020 it will start in Stockholm. Skipperi will take care of the maintenance, service, insurance and availability of the city boats.
Cooperation with boat-builder Yamarin
In the coming season, boat sharing will also take place at new locations in Finland and Oslo, Norway. Three more Skipperi stations are already planned for Stockholm, plus new locations in Helsinki. Skipperi has signed a cooperation agreement with Yamaha Motor Europe and the boat manufacturer Inha Works.
“The popularity of the urban boat-sharing service indicates a transformation in the boat business and a change in consumer needs”, says Juha Lehtola, CEO of Inha Works. His company manufactures Yamarin and Cross motorboats. Yamarin will supply around 120 new motorboats for the 2020 season.
The boats will be rented by Yamarin and managed by Skipperi. “In Scandinavia we are using new Yamarin Cross and Yamarin boats, mainly Yamarin Cross 54, 57 and 62. We will also have some of the new Yamarin DC 63 boats in our fleet.” New boats will be added to the fleet every year. The boats are, according to their purpose, mostly made of robust aluminum.
“The cooperation with Yamaha and Yamarin makes it possible for us to further improve and simplify the service next summer. The participating cities have also expressed themselves very positively, as they see the city boats as an important visitor attraction”, says Kristian Raij.
The city of Copenhagen has had very good experiences with a slightly different boat rental model for the past five years. Rand Boats rents out picnic boats in its rental station GoBoats, with which you can watch Copenhagen from the water.
Boat sharing very interesting for investors
Skipperi’s list of investors shows that boat sharing is also economically interesting. The main participants are the Finnish investment company Matu Capital, the Otto Brandt Ab group (known for the boat brands Silver and Terhi), Hans Ahlström and Stephanie Brandt.
Building on the success in Finland, the service is to be introduced throughout Scandinavia. The growth plan envisions introducing the city boat concept in another country each year and launching the sharing model in two countries, says Kristian Raij to float. The target for the next, current financing round is 800,000 to one million euros.
It was no coincidence that the young Finn has founded the company: The marketing man and father of three boys has previously helped setting up the first Finnish online food delivery service.