Skipperi is a Finland-based company that is making a huge impact across the waters in Ontario. Skipperi is the world’s first boat-sharing app – allowing boating to be accessible for everyone and anyone.
The Waterfront BIA had the great pleasure of meeting the Skipperi team. We saw the boats and interviewed the country lead, Keven Dextradeur. Throughout the conversation, there is no denying Skipperi’s genuine enthusiasm and passion to cut the barriers to boating.
Skipperi is a boat subscription service. Every month, you pay a monthly fee and gain access to a new fleet of fully equipped boats. But you get so much more with this membership; new boaters have access to a Boating Academy, access to the Skipperi team, and boats that utilize the latest technology for safe boating experiences.
Skipperi first joined Toronto’s harbourfront in 2022 and has since expanded to Hamilton, Scarborough, Pickering, and Mississauga.
Office Location: 1 Queens Quay E, Toronto
How did you first get into boating?
I’m from Montreal and have never really been a huge city guy. Growing up, I was always around water or in the water.
When I moved to Toronto, I took up boating as my escape from the city. And now, I don’t need to go to a cottage to escape and go through that whole hassle.
What’s a typical summer day like for you at the waterfront?
My day typically starts with a run between Bathurst and Jarvis. And when I can, I love taking the boat out after a run to see the sunrise.
In general, the waterfront community has the best vibe. There’s a hustle culture but a great emphasis on wellness.
What does a workday look like?
My day usually starts at 8 AM on calls with our HQ team in Finland and then the Operations Team starts their full round of checking on the boats so that we can review the data at the office. AI is added to everything we do. For example, members take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos when they take out a Skipperi boat, and our AI reports and reads the potential damage for us.
Can you tell us more about this technology and the Skipperi “smart fleet”?
We use technology to our fullest advantage, and it’s involved in everything we do, it helps us ensure the quality of the boats and maintain high safety standards.
All of the boats are equipped with AI and geofencing abilities. A lot is going on in Toronto’s harbour, and it’s important that boats are not speeding in areas with specific speed limits. Our technology allows us to notify boat operators and warn them if they are speeding.
Our AI analyzes the propellers before and after every booking to ensure everything is functional. Every boat has a smart screen with a chart plotter function.
We also work closely with the stakeholders around us like Ports Toronto and the Toronto Police Marine Unit.
How does Skipperi set its members up for success, especially the new boaters?
It takes an entire team, and each member brings specific talent and characteristics.
Our fleet manager, Andrew McDonald, does a lot of the Skipperi Academy training. He has a lot of experience as a licensed captain and marine mechanic. Andrew has also been boating in the Toronto harbour for years.
Andrew has a lot of knowledge within the boating community, but it’s gained through experience. And every boater needs to know the etiquette and the dos and don’ts.
Andrew will not only give you all the technical training (like docking, fueling, anchoring, etc.) but also how to be a good boater in the community.
Andrew – tell us about your boating experience!
I started doing tours of Toronto’s inner harbour as a licensed captain in 2004. At some point, I went back to school to become a marine mechanic, and I really enjoyed the job, but after a few years, I wanted to get back onto the water and joined the Skipperi team.
Training new boaters is also extremely rewarding. I meet people who might be a little scared or hesitant to start boating, and they completely fall in love with it.
Andrew + Keven – Boat sharing is not something we see in North America; can you guys tell us more about the concept?
It truly is 100% Nordic. The Nordic culture is different from ours; there is more emphasis on sharing, community, and also sustainability.
Imagine if we all owned our boats and how many boats would be in the landfill, the amount of pollution, and the amount of dock space.
Keven – What has been your biggest pride or success?
Our safety standards. We didn’t have a single incident or insurance claim to date and we’ve had so few issues with over 2000 reservations. It’s something our entire team works hard to maintain, and we also have a great group of members who really take care of our product and service.
Andrew – And what has been your biggest pride or success?
The accessibility and inclusivity we are building at Skipperi. It’s no longer a rich person’s sport or hobby.
Because the reality of boating is that it’s not easily accessible. The cost of the boat, the marina, Insurance, storage, maintenance and there is so much that goes into boat ownership that it prevents people from getting out there.
We are also seeing the boater person and demographic change; we are seeing more women on the water and younger individuals.
Andrew + Keven – What’s the most stressful time for a boater?
The most stressful time is when you’re docking your boat, whether you’re bringing it in or back out.
It’s common to say, “Sorry, for what I said when I was docking the boat.”
Keven – What’s your favourite hidden gem on the waterfront?
It’s great you asked this because our app has a community area called ‘destinations’ where you can share places boaters visited, hidden gems, and everything.
And my favourite hidden gem is Scarborough Bluffs.
Andrew – And yours?
Hanlan’s Point, it’s the best anchoring spot!
A thank you to the entire Skipperi Team for their time and insight!