The first full year of operating the EcoClipper company comes to an end. An amazing year of inspiring meetings, unexpected realizations and a shipping, banking and travel world that “is a changing”. Running a shipping company without a ship is also a very humbling experience…
For the coming year we have large goals, and in this newsletter, you will read a bit about these. Most of all we would like to wish all of you:
Following seas and royals all the way for 2020.
You might think, “HURRAY”, ease the sheets and square the yards” or perhaps, “WHAT THE .. IS HE TALKING ABOUT?”
-For the first group, skip this part and read on further.-
Explanation for 2nd group
For the second, following seas means having the winds in your favour. And the royals are the highest sails on a standard square rig mast.
The sails you will keep up when the weather is nice and fine. Finally, you ease the sheets, when the wind is favourable and you want more speed. Square the yards, is bringing the yards perpendicular to the ship to take advantage of the wind blowing from astern.
Setting up shop
A year ago, after establishing the EcoClipper company at the notary. It became very obvious that a return from Ireland to the Netherlands, to connect again to our maritime and personal network, would bring several advantages.
In the medieval centre of Alkmaar we found a great ancient house, offered to us by the friendliest board of the “Pakhuis de Koopman” foundation. The perfect spot to settle down and open office.
Next to this fine establishment we recently moved most of our office operations to a new location a few minutes away; “Het Nieuwe Warenhuis”. This is a combined office building where over 50 companies work together, more like a community than as an economy.
In the beginning we made it a habit, to visit as many as possible network events. This established a firm connection to the nationwide BeUnited entrepreneurial network.
Apart from these general meetings, our focus was geared towards the maritime world and as such being invited at the Anchorites in Rotterdam and the Traditional shipping fair in Den Helder.
Also, the connection with Switzerland became firmly established through the Aysegul Riemens private commodity firm. Next to visiting events, many individual connections with investors, banks, engineers, brokers, importers and other partners where made.
Online visibility and appearance.
I have to admit that, this past year, I appeared on linkedin, facebook, Instagram and twitter, for the first time in my life. It has been a rocky road with steep learning curves, but thanks to the pragmatic organisation and common sense of my partner Elise Kossen, we steered free of most rocks.
It is due to her creativity and perseverance behind the screen that we are able to offer the world a nice overview of our company, and what it stands for, on our newly launched website:
Our initial media strategy was based on staying “low profile” until we would be able to really announce a major breakthrough. To say, the finalizing of the prototype design, or the interest of major investors.
As of such we did not start sending any press releases yet.
However, we got picked up, by some major media outlets, amongst them the Guardian. This was really noticed in the traffic to our inbox, and we are still grateful for the effects. As of such we will start communicating with press releases in the new year.
The prototype EcoClipper500.
One of the technical milestones this year was producing the short specifications for the EcoClipper prototype. A design that we came up with after analysing the experiences and market conditions of the current sail cargo vessels in operation.
Her size was decided according to an analysis to determine the smallest size sailing vessel still capable of being financially viable and profitable on long ocean routes.
The EcoClipper500 prototype will be the first newly built deep-sea sailing cargo vessel not propelled by mechanical means in the 21st century.
A tender procedure for European shipyards.
Following the finalisation of the short specifications we contacted a range of European shipyards to make a shortlist of suitable partners for a tender procedure.
We’re now talking to three different ship yards regarding the steps to be followed to obtain building quotations for a line of clipper ships. We also learned that we ought to deliver more detailed specifications and drawings to really receive a dependable result.
After brainstorming about being able to show something tangible about the EcoClipper, one of our first EcoClipper investors, Leo Boogerd, offered to build a half model of the EcoClipper500 prototype.
Traditionally this was the first step before building a large sailing vessel, and of course we do like to honour those traditions.
The first choice in this we had to make was the size and thus scale of the model. Originally a builder’s model would have been made at a scale of 1:50, for a promotional model 1:100, would have been more suitable.
We opted for the middle road and this model we scaled at 1:75.
Originally, we thought crowdfunding would be something for rather small projects. But after brainstorming with some of our early investors and the banks and financial institutions, we realized that crowdfunding made a huge leap the las years and accordingly would fit very well with our finance strategy.
On one side because it is building a community of ambassadors and future partners. On the other side, because it is just the disruptive kind of financing model, we need to scale up exponentially.
For this reason, we are now preparing a series of crowdfunding campaigns in the next year. The first one, to finalize the EcoClipper500 prototype design, in March 2020. The second one to finance the first EcoClipper the end of 2020.
A bright future for sail cargo.
It has been very exciting to set the first steps on the EcoClipper adventure, of course it builds on a rich tradition of sail cargo. But also, we noticed throughout the past year that “the stars seem to be aligning” for our industry of emission free shipping.
The International Maritime Organisation has released the year 2020 as year of sustainable shipping. The big shipping banks announced to focus on sustainable financing trough their new Poseidon principles. And the awareness of the general public for green transport and travel, has never been so much.
The few sail cargo ships who are operating a trans-Atlantic liner service are fully booked and screaming for more capacity.
If there ever was a right moment to start a sail cargo business, it is right now.
Thanks for signing on,
Following seas and royals all the way!
Captain Jorne Langelaan