Department of Engineering / News / Alumnus Ben Whitaker Co-Founder of Masabi - mobile ticketing technology

Department of Engineering

Alumnus Ben Whitaker Co-Founder of Masabi - mobile ticketing technology

Alumnus Ben Whitaker Co-Founder of Masabi - mobile ticketing technology

Masabi founders Engineering alumnus Ben Whitaker (left) and Computer Science Alumnus Tom Godber

First Capital Connect have recently launched a new queue-busting mobile ticketing app, allowing passengers to use their mobile phone or tablet as a train ticket for trips to Cambridge, so that they don't have to wait in line for a ticket ever again.

The engineering department was hugely supportive of students finding out more about turning ideas into business, and helped me to follow some of the department's fellows into starting my own business.

Alumnus Ben Whitaker CEO of Masabi

The app was developed by Masabi, a company founded by Engineering alumnus Ben Whitaker and Computer Science alumnus Tom Godber. Masabi are leaders in transport mobile ticketing, customers can download the app to their phone and instantly purchase peak and certain off-peak tickets for immediate use. 

Mobile tickets (mTickets) are displayed on the phone’s screen as an encrypted barcode to be scanned by new mobile-enabled gates (that you can see at stations like Kings Cross or Cambridge) or revenue staff – turning the phone into a personalised ticket machine. 

The tickets can be used at London King’s Cross, Cambridge and King’s Lynn but the technology will very shortly be rolled out so that passengers can travel to and from these three stations at Ely, Royston, Hitchin, Stevenage and Letchworth Garden City. 

Later, First Capital Connect also expects to offer the app for journeys between Gatwick and London.

Tickets purchased for other routes or ticket types on the app can easily be collected from any station ticket machine using the unique reference number sent to customer’s mobile or tablet, but gradually more routes around the UK are enabling mobile tickets to remove this step.

Alumnus Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masabi said: 

“After studying and living in Cambridge for years, and also starting the company in Cambridge, it is particularly exciting for me to see First Capital Connect launching queue-busting mobile ticketing at London King’s Cross and Cambridge, making it even easier for passengers to jump between these two fantastic hubs of culture, history and education. 

“This service will mean that passengers, for the first time, will be able to buy their tickets as they stroll to the station rather than having to queue for a ticket. I highly recommend that you give it a try next time you travel up to Cambridge.”

Having worked to define a national standard for rail mTicketing, Masabi's mobile ticketing technology is now in use by over half of the UK's rail operators such as Virgin, ScotRail, Cross Country, Chiltern Railways, First Great Western, Trans Pennine, Arriva Trains Wales and more.

Masabi's services are also being adopted internationally in Boston (including the other Cambridge), San Diego, Long Island in New York, and shortly by more cities in Europe too - a great example of Cambridge ideas taking pain out of the daily commute and saving public money around the world.

Talking about his time at the Department of Engineering Ben added “Who you meet and how they think is 50% of the value of the course. The Department of Engineering is hugely supportive of students finding out more about turning ideas into business, and helped me to follow some of the Department's fellows into starting my own business. They provided me with my own office for a period while spinning out a course project into a business, as well as providing lecture rooms for CUE (the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs society) to provide business teaching and support for other students.”

First Capital Connect Customer Service Director Keith Jipps said:

“We are delighted to be launching our mTicket range as part of our commitment to make the ticket purchasing process for passengers as easy as possible.

“We have been quietly trialing this app over the past few months and it has proved so successful we are looking to expand mobile ticketing to other stations on our network.”

The app also provides real-time information on trains and timetables. It saves frequent journeys and securely stores payment information which means that users can make repeat purchases with just a few taps, removing the need to enter log-in details each time.