Twin Cities Kayaking’s Unique Business Model

4-minute read

Twin Cities Kayaking, based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, has a unique business model for their kayak rental and guide service. Instead of asking their customers to go to them, they go to their customers.

kayaks and paddles on the shore waiting for people to take them on the lake

Twin Cities Kayaking’s kayaks and paddle boards ready for rental and lessons at a local lake

Twin Cities Kayaking’s Customer Service Model

There are a handful of kayak, canoe and SUP rental services in and around Minnesota’s Twin Cities metro. They’re mainly found in one of the park systems, and give limited access to a limited number of area lakes and rivers.

When owner John Schulte started Twin Cities Kayaking (TCK) in 2018, he was looking for a way to live in the City without always “being in the city.” He’d been kayaking for 20 years already, and would regularly take friends out with him since he always had two kayaks.

It wasn’t until he’d turned 60 and no longer wanted to sit inside in an office 8 hours a day when he decided to look into a kayak business.

But he decided to switch his business model upside down. Rather than basing his rental and tour company at a permanent waterside location, he decided to go where his customers wanted to paddle—several of the area’s best paddling spots.

Twin Cities Kayaking owner, John Schulte, with his van and trailer full of kayaks; holding a sign that says "follow me to fun"

Owner John Schulte with part of his fleet and his motto: “Follow me to fun!”

He started small and grew his kayak fleet and his customer base each successive season. He now has 60 kayaks, 12 paddle boards, 3 independent guides who work with him, and has even started to enlist “affiliate” partners to guide in their own locations.

The TCK team meets their customers at the selected launch and time with the boats, helps get them on the water, then meets them at the exit site later to pick up the boats. Paddlers can save $15 off their tour if they agree to clean their own kayak afterwards, with the towels and disinfectant provided.

woman and her cat in a kayak ready for the water

TCK’s kayak tours are even pet-friendly (yes, that’s a cat!)

Urban Kayak and Paddleboard Tours

With over 1,000 lakes, three major rivers and several smaller rivers, the Twin Cities metro is loaded with prime paddling—in both urban and natural settings.

“I just love meeting new people and getting them out on the water. We have adventures for all ages and abilities,” said John.

Paddling guests with TCK have several choices:

  • Choose one of TCK’s popular tours, either self-guided or guided. These include several choices on the Mississippi River, the Two Rivers Tour on the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and choices of smaller, more natural rivers in the northern suburbs. They also go into nearby Wisconsin for one of their river tours.
  • Sign up for one of their two weekly events: Mondays on the Mississippi or Wednesdays on the Water—late afternoon and evening paddles at specified locations and times. Wednesdays on the Water includes a chance for kayak or paddle board lessons as well as paddling practice.

several kayakers on the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the distance

A TCK tour on the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the distance

  • Reserve a Party Package with a group of friends or family, or a Picnic and Paddle package.
  • Design a own custom trip, either self-guided or guided, on any of the available local waterways.
  • They’ve done birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate team building, family reunions, too…your imagination is the limit!

One of the things TCK’s customers love the most is being able to see city landmarks from the water that can’t be seen any other way. It’s truly a new way to view the place they’ve lived in all their lives and maybe never seen from that angle.

It’s also a fun way for visitors to be introduced to the beautiful Twin Cities area that’s a little unconventional and takes advantage of the abundance of paddle-able water.

How to Paddle with Twin Cities Kayaking

If you live in the Twin Cities or plan to visit Minnesota, you can paddle with Twin Cities Kayaking from mid-spring through October. Get all the details on their website: You can follow them on Facebook, too.

TCK owner, John Schulte, on a paddleboard on the water

TCK offers paddle board rentals and lessons, too (TCK owner, John Schulte)

(All photos courtesy of Twin Cities Kayaking)

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

More for you...