Subscribing to usership – the new normal

There’s a feeling you get in the sea, in a boat or on a surfboard – when you get the timing right and put yourself in the right position – where everything changes. Movement speeds up and time slows down. The friction of the water gives way to a rush of smooth, pure energy. Riding the crest of wave, it’s exhilarating. And that’s how it feels for us at Agapi right now.

When we launched Agapi Club, it just felt right. It was exactly the right time to challenge traditional notions around ownership and introduce instead a business model based on the sharing economy to enable long-term sustainability. In many ways, this approach will be the only way to achieve both business growth and care for our environment. We see it emerging in many parts of the marketplace – a clear trend to “usership” instead of “ownership”. We see it in the automotive, aviation, and housing industries.

At Agapi, we saw the chance to make boating more accessible than ever. The designs, the technology, the business model, and the readiness of people to make a change were all converging. It all felt so right.

And once again, we have received outside affirmation that it wasn’t just a feeling, that we are truly at the forefront of something new. This time, Zuora invited our founder and CEO, Peder Asplund, onstage at their Subscribed Stockholm 2019 event in April, joining Schibsted, Deloitte, Moi, Snow Software, and others to discuss the rise of the subscription economy.

Zuora is the big name in the global subscription economy. Its founder, Tien Tzuo, was part of the original Salesforce team, and his book, Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It, has helped establish him as one of the world’s leading thinkers of a movement that’s reshaping the modern economy. Quite frankly, getting a shout-out from those folks is an exciting honour and a recognition that we are onto something special.

Zuora’s message is that the global economy is reaching the end of the “era of ownership” and that new companies – the “mavericks, disruptors, reinventors” – are driving the rise of “usership”. It’s a model where constant innovation and relationship building shift the focus to experiences and outcomes instead of products, people instead of purchasers.

This is exactly the course we have been charting. Agapi Club was conceived as the new way to have a boat. Taking pride in something of the highest quality and building the same positive sense of having your own boat, but doing it in a way that’s better and kinder to the environment and your wallet. It also adds the security of knowing that your boat is always clean, the tank is always full, and the batteries are always charged.

Subscription services are a smarter way to use our planet’s finite resources. For all that it takes to build a vehicle, it’s a terrible waste that the average car sits idle for more than 90 percent of its life. When it comes to traditionally owned boats, that figure is even worse. But in our case, Agapi Club boats have a ten-fold increase in resource utilisation with a 90 percent reduction in environmental footprint. As these types of gains spread across industries and around the world, the potential benefits are enormous.

But even that’s not enough. Subscription models can only work if what they offer is better than what they are trying to replace. Better quality products. Better services. And better value for money. This is what we work hard to deliver every day. We’re not just focused on selling a product and a service. Our focus in on the entire ecosystem – for the boaters, the industry, and the environment, we are building a better, smarter, and more sustainable boating life.

As we write now, we can’t wait to see how Volvo’s new venture, simply called M, will take shape. Drawing on their experience of their car sharing subsidiary Sunfleet, M is entering a beta phase, poised to use subscriptions to transform mobility. Imagine that – a car maker that’s not thinking about selling cars. In their own words, they aim to “help people move freely, meaningfully and sustainably”.

Both M and Volvo’s sister company Lynk & Co were also present at the Subcribed Stockholm event, and it was so encouraging to see the synergies and shared commitment that Agapi has with them and other industry leaders. To the uninitiated, subscription services may appear to give something less than ownership. But in our vision and that of the other pioneers – like Zuora, M, Lynk & Co, and many more – when subscription services are done right, they deliver considerably more.

We are certainly not alone in driving the subscription economy forward and, increasingly, we find ourselves in great company with the other mavericks, disruptors, and reinventors. But in the boating world we are out alone on the crest of the wave. Will you join us to see just how far we can go?

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