Building the go to platform for train travel
Meet the KTH students who will make booking a train journey through Europe as easy as booking a flight online. They are launching Voyley, with their sights set on becoming the go to platform for train travel in Europe.
If you ever tried to book a train journey through Europe you know it’s a complicated business. Each country has its own system, websites and tickets – and nothing is in sync. The KTH students behind Voyley wants it to become the go to platform for train travel in Europe, making it as easy to book a train journey through Europe as it is booking a flight.
- We want to make the train the obvious choice when travelling in Europe, says Julia Huang, one of the people behind Voyley.
A platform collecting all bus and train tickets
Julia Huang and Gabriella Dalman are on their fourth year of the Media Technology program at KTH. As part of a course in human-computer interaction they started developing a journey planner for trains in Europe together. Both Gabriella and Julia speak Chinese and it was during a language café in the KTH library that they met Kevin Loh, who was at KTH for an exchange term on the exchange program KTH-NOC . Kevin had first-hand experience of the trials and tribulations of train journeys through Europe and one day towards the end of spring term 2019 he told the others about his idea for making train travel easier. The team was formed there and then.
- We collect all train and bus tickets in Europe to a search engine hooked up to our website. The advantage with our solution is that we make it easy to stay a few extra nights in one location or to add a stop. We want travel to be more of an experience in itself rather than spending time in a metal tube in the air, says Julia.
"KTH Innovation opens up opportunities"
Together with Ashwin Hari Singh and Erik Kuan, who were also on the KTH-NOC program, Kevin had started working on a business plan, while Julia and Gabriella had built a prototype. Another addition to the team is Daniel Peng. who is doing a Msc in Industrial Management. He took the role of CEO and is handling contacts with partners. In May 2019 Voyley got in touch with KTH Innovation and started working with business development coach Fredrik Jansson.
- Getting support from KTH Innovation definitely opens up doors and opportunities, We often come up with new ideas for Voyley but Fredrik sets us on the right path again, says Daniel. Having a coach also sends a signal that we are serious, we have support and are not just taking a shot in the dark.
Just weeks away from launch
After the summer of 2019 Voyley applied for the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program and was accepted into batch 10 as one of 17 promising startup teams from KTH. During the year long program they have worked hard towards launching their service, and now it’s just weeks until show time. During the program they have enjoyed office space at KTH Innovation, workshops each week to develop their ideas and been a part of a supportive community where they develop alongside others.
- Being part of the program has been a lot of fun, says Gabriella. If we hadn’t had the weekly meetings we would probably not have come as far as we have. It really motivates to see others succeed. It is also really nice working alongside other teams. You can ask questions or just brainstorm an idea.
When the pandemic was a fact in the spring of 2020 the pre-incubator program went digital literally overnight. This has really worked out great for Voyley, where half the team are in Sweden and half in Singapore. Nobody in the team had previous experience of running a startup project.
- We are very open to trying new things. I had never imagined having a startup but when they asked if I was up for it I just though YES, says Gabriella when we meet up at KTH Innovation’s new house on Teknikringen 1.
Be transparent and communicate
Working with Voyley while studying at KTH has sometimes been intense. Both Julia and Gabriella have been active in the reception of new students and had to take a step back from Voyley for a little while to focus on other things. Being a team of six has been a great advantage, but most important is to be transparent and communicate with the others, says Gabriella.
- We have been very open with when we need to take a step back. Everyone understands that you need a break now and then. And it is just so much fun, says Gabriella. You have nothing to lose even if you don’t go all the way with your idea. You just try again and again until you something works out.
You can already register on the Voyley website to be alerted when the service is launched. Bus tickets will be released first but train tickets are not far behind in the pipeline. Head over to voyley.com to find out more.