Skipperi raises $10.9 million AUD to make boating more accessible

Kristian Raij, CEO and Co-founder of Skipperi

Finnish startup Skipperi, a shared-use boating subscription service and peer-to-peer boat rental platform, has raised €7m ($10.9m AUD) in series A funding. The round was led by Yamaha Motor, with Baltiska Handels Sverige, Matu Capital, and HP Capital also participating.

The company will use the money to fund its international expansion to Brisbane, Australia, and several locations around the US while strengthening its platform and tech team.

What is the market offering of Skipperi?

For many, the bother and cost of owning and storing a boat mean they don’t get to enjoy the open water with family and friends. To make boating easy, affordable, sustainable, and hassle-free, Skipperi offers two main services to get more people onto the water safely.

Skipperi Fleet is a shared-use boating subscription service where users can enjoy unlimited use of any of the 400+ boats in 6 countries with just a few taps on an app – with boats in Australia and the US on the way. Skipperi Fleet has zero sign-up fees, meaning users just pay a monthly fee during the season and their own fuel costs. Its other service, Skipperi Rent, is a peer-to-peer rental where boat owners can rent out their boats to other qualified boaters.

“Skipperi is an essential partner for us. It’s the only tech firm that is operating an efficient platform capable of providing seamless services to help people enjoy the ocean and solve the 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 funding,” says Toshiaki Ibata, Chief General Manager of Marine Business Operations at Yamaha Motor.

Founded by Anna-Leena Raij and Kristian Raij, Skipperi also works hard to get more women into boating, which is typically dominated by men. In a bid to turn things around, Skipperi provides training to new users, the boats in its Finnish fleet have male names, and the company has cooperated with firms promoting female boating, like She Captain in Sweden.

“We want to create low threshold access into boating and create room in the boating community for everyone,” commented Kristian Raij, CEO and Co-founder of Skipperi.

“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,” Kristian Raij added.

How does the platform work?

Booking a boat, with access to the dock and keys for the boat, is all done through the app. In fact, 73.5% of Skipperi’s Fleet users subscribe because of the app’s simplicity. 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.

In addition, Skipperi takes care of the boats’ maintenance, equipment, insurance, and boat availability. In order to make sure that boating is safe for new and experienced boaters alike, the Skipperi platform offers theoretical and practical training through its Skipperi Academy and requires boaters to pass Skipperi’s boating exam or have all locally required permits.

“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 have about beginner boaters,” said Raij.

Skipperi utilises geofencing and artificial intelligence (AI) to create smooth experiences for its members, notifying its users of shallow waters, speed restrictions, or maximum speeds in harbour areas, hazardous zones, and protected areas for birds and seals. The feature 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, sending its location and notification to the service team. Based on data onboard Skipperi boats, Swedes hit rocks 1.9 times more often than Finns and 2.3 times more often than Norwegians. Men are 7% more likely to hit rocks than women, and Danes are 10% better than Swedes at keeping their propellers in one piece.

In 2022, over 40,500 reservations were made with the Fleet, with the average trip time being 3.8 hours and a distance average of 16 nautical miles. The ability to make short trips affordably means that users can support local businesses in the area’s archipelago. Also, its circular economy focus is also popular with cities, which have given Skipperi highly-demanded pier spots, as now hundreds of people can enjoy the dock instead of a single family.

Founded in 2017, Skipperi has raised a total of €12.6m ($19.6m AUD) and now operates in more than 40 locations in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada.