European train ticketing platform Capitaine Train has raised €2.5M from Index Ventures and CMC-CIC Capital Privé in order to continue to bring a unified interface for buying the cheapest train tickets from A to B. The service, which launched last year, now sells tickets from six of Europe’s biggest train companies – SNCF, Eurostar, Thalys, Deutsche Bahn, iDTGv & Lydia – many of which have overlapping train lines. Capitaine Train, who previously raised €1.4M from the same investors, is clearly showing signs of growth (as both investors have reinvested) as well as being ready to scale up operations.
Capitaine Train co-founder and CEO Jean-Daniel Guyot recently gave an intimate talk at Paris accelerator The Family, where he shared his experiences – good and bad – since his company’s founding in 2009. The driving force behind one of Capitaine Train’s biggest unfair advantages against competitors (its beautiful, yet simple user experience), Guyot discussed the high barrier to entry to A) selling train tickets and B) getting access to their first API, namely that of SNCF; however, with the high barriers hopscotched and hurdled, the company is now seeing the first fruits of their labor: high user retention rate (once you buy on Capitain Train, you’ll buy again), doors opening to five other operators, and, according to Guyot, my biggest complaint to date of the service (its lack of mobile app) will apparently be pacified soon.
When I first saw Capitaine Train, I was a pretty big critic – it looked like a pretty UX on top of voyages-sncf.com ; however, with my foot thoroughly in my mouth, I admitted to Guyot that I now see the beauty in their entrance to the market. In September, new competitors will be allowed into the French and other markets – the work of the European Commission to reduce country monopolies – and, for now, Capitaine Train is the only player poised to give train-riders the cheapest prices. The market is huge – I’m on a train to Luxembourg as I write this article, to give you an idea of how common it is in Europe –and just taking a bit out of it has been a big effort.
To date, Capitaine Train has done very little marketing for its service – user recommendation has driven its growth. I’m sure, with this new round of funding, and the urge to serve travelers outside of France, will change that. While France may be losing one train monopoly in September, they can revel in the fact that it is a French company who will be dominating online train ticketing in the coming years – not a bad trade-off, don’t you think?