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The Skipper, the Engineer, and Me: Creating the Best User Experience

By Shachar Segev, VP Engineering
Published July 25, 2022

What do a skipper, an engineer, and me all have in common? Well, for one thing, we are all one and the same. And “we” are very passionate about the user experience.

Nice to meet you! I’m Shachar, a skipper, and an engineer. These passions are so intertwined that sometimes I can’t tell if I’m viewing the world from the experience of a boater, or a technologist. I guess it’s both.

I love teaching people how to sail, especially for the first time. I recently took a group of six on a week-long skippers’ course in the Mediterranean. I was joined by a father and son, a young couple in their early 20’s, a 16-year-old with some sailing experience, and a man who had never sailed before. We set off from Athens and got to work learning the basics, including preparing for sea, deck work, navigation, engines, reading the wind, meteorology, and knot tying. The clear blue Athens coastline provided a stunning outdoor classroom, and I felt a thrill as I experienced the sea through the eyes of my students, as if for the first time. I helped them put theory to practice from day one, watching them become gradually more adept at their technical skills as well as learning to work together as a crew.

Each day we sailed to a new location, exploring the Saronic Gulf, Aegina, Poros, and other places nearby. After a few days of low winds and calm waters, we were greeted by a storm with increasingly gusty winds. Despite the challenging conditions, I resisted the temptation to take over and watched with pride as each one put their new skills to the test against the storm. Through teamwork and courage, the new skippers tackled the storm and brought us safely back to shore.

Whether veteran or new boater, the experience and needs of the boating community are both unique and varied. It’s something I spend a lot of time considering while leading the engineering team at Ahoy! The user experience and service to the customer are at the very heart of our efforts. The right application, and the right flow, are essential in making our offering shine. I think that my boating experience allows me to better understand the boat owner’s  point of view when he or she is approaching a new boating insurance plan. This helps me to see the product from the perspective of the customer experience.

My team is responsible for the digital experience of the Ahoy! Insurance application. Our main engineering challenge is to build a simple and user friendly flow for the insurance application that is easy and attractive.

Technology plays a big part in what makes Ahoy!’s application unique and outstanding. Before joining Ahoy!, I spent 20 years managing engineering organizations in the B2B space, but my roles were more managerial. At Ahoy! I get to return to hands-on work. That has made me very happy, and I really love this aspect of the job. 

I have a laser focus on the user experience. Right now, we are releasing a new version to the market every week. I constantly learn from our customers and strive to improve the experience with each release. It must be both sophisticated yet at the same time simple to use. Since the user experience is so important, we are closing technology gaps by developing many of the solutions ourselves.

At Ahoy!, the user experience is tailored to each customer’s specific profile and boat type. For example, to save the customer the time and trouble of entering their boat details, the application is connected to an existing database of boat models. This allows the user to select the right model from the menu, and all the details are automatically populated. We also designed controls for information fields such as level of boating experience, which provide relevant feedback and options based on the user’s selection.

At Ahoy!, we could settle for doing a good business by selling insurance, but our mission is bigger than that. I would like to contribute my knowledge and best practices to the boating community. Using technology, we can make the boating experience safer and more enjoyable.

At the end of the day, the synergy is what matters. The skipper, the engineer, and I are working as a team – to develop the best possible user experience for boaters like us.


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