TLabs Showcase - TicketmunkyNewsBy Kevin May | December 23, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based online travel agency focusing on rail season tickets, Ticketmunky.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Ticketmunky is the UK’s first independent rail season ticket agent. Our service is aimed at commuters and we sell season tickets covering every rail operator including TFL’s Oyster.We’ve created a number of value added benefits to help make commuting more rewarding under what we’re calling "The Commuter Revolution".The business is part of Munky Business Group, headed by Matt Wigginton who has almost 20 years travel industry and business experience.We have a small but dedicated team who are all committed to the cause.What financial support did you have to launch the business?Our business is self-funded by existing directors.What problem are you trying to solve?We have a single aim – to make commuting more rewarding. We do this by adding value to our services and creating new, innovative products and services that help commuters by making things more accessible, easier to use and more fun!Describe the business, core products and services?Ticketmunky is a business built around its customers. We focus on what is important to them.It would be very easy for us to simply sell rail tickets but there’s nothing new or innovative in that.We take things a step further by offering value added benefits. Every Ticketmunky customer receives £1,500 worth of ticket insurance to cover loss/theft and £10,000 worth of personal injury insurance absolutely free.We have created a unique, easy-to-use SMS Delay Claims service which allows our customers to claim compensation for delays and cancellations by simply sending a single SMS rather than completing lengthy forms.We offer a unique reward scheme giving Ticketmunky customers 5% of the cost of their season ticket back in travel vouchers to spend on their annual holiday.We offer season ticket loans to people who don’t get them from their employer so they don’t have to tie up their credit card balance for a whole year. This helps them save money and spread the cost of their commute.We’ll continue to develop new products and solutions to everyday problems to help our customers enjoy a more rewarding commute.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Ticketmunky’s key customers are everyday commuters and small business owners who require tickets for themselves or their employees.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Absolutely. We wouldn’t be very focused on our customers if we didn’t speak to them about what we were doing to make sure we got it right!We canvassed hundreds of commuters to find out what they thought was missing from their commuting experience.We spoke to suppliers and partners, bankers and insurers, potential investors in fact anyone who would listen to ensure we had a good sounding board.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?We earn marginal commission from the sale of rail tickets but, like our customers, we see every day as part of a larger journey.Our revenue comes from providing value added services and working to develop a wider range of relevant products and services for our customers.We are also working with other partners, outside of the rail industry, to extend our service to other areas of the commute.This allows us to utilise the same software, systems and procedures to expand in to new areas with very little additional cost. Revenue streams from other areas are significantly higher than rail ticketing.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Access to rail season tickets from every rail operator including TFL OysterEasy-to-use booking systemValue added products and servicesInnovative, entrepreneurial approachExclusive arrangements with key suppliers Weaknesses: Marginal commission from rail tickets Opportunities: Expansion of product portfolio outside of rail ticketingLucrative audienceOverseas expansion Threats: Changes to the rail franchising system/methodChanges to season ticket scheme/functionWho advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Without wishing to inflate our egos, I can safely say that we’ve had widely supportive responses from everyone we’ve spoken to and no-one has failed to see the benefit of Ticketmunky’s entry to the market.What is your success metric 12 months from now?This business relies on volume and we’re looking for a low single digit percentage share of the rail season ticket business… and a foothold in some new markets, too.NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.