Ticketer - deploying smart ticketing technologies across the UK’s public transport networks

In this video, shot a year after investment, John shares what life has been like since joining the Tenzing portfolio, and what has changed. He shares his worries that came out in the due diligence process and how Tenzing acted to overcome them.
John Clarfelt

Founder

John Clarfelt

Qualified barrister, butcher and entrepreneur with three businesses under his belt, John Clarfelt founded Ticketer in 2010 because he believed ticketing could be revolutionised using cloud technology. Ticketer has grown to become the UK market leader at the forefront of smart electronic ticketing technology, enabling passengers to use the latest payments technologies, whilst providing bus operators with real-time performance insights. Clients include First Bus, Arriva, and Go-Ahead. John remains a Ticketer Board member and is considering his next venture.
Andy Monshaw

CEO

Andy Monshaw

Appointed in October 2020, Andy Monshaw brings over 25 years of international experience across technology and service businesses. He also sits on the board of several technology startups. Andy will drive the next stage of growth across the Ticketer Group, taking the lead on continued expansion, including international growth. He caught Founder John Clarfelt’s attention with the “character and ethos that is immensely important to us – I had that gut feeling that he would get Ticketer”.

Partnership origins

With John the driving force behind making Ticketer “bigger and better”, the business eventually reached a crossroads. “We’d actually been lucky enough to have about 70% of the market open to us. It gets to a point where you can keep going and have a nice life, or you can be aggressive and really grow,” John reflects.

But while successful scaling was John’s priority, he didn’t want to risk losing “the startup pizzazz”: “I want to keep that pizzazz even though we’re now a stable business. If you also have that start up zing, you become quite a challenge to the market.”

Enter private equity – and Tenzing.

Ticketer

Why Ticketer chose Tenzing

John had never come across Tenzing before, but instant chemistry after a last minute meeting before traveling to Majorca on holiday sealed the deal.

John’s wife however, proposed another theory as to his alignment with Tenzing: “She says it’s because they were the only ones who laughed at my jokes.”

10 minutes after meeting Tenzing, I took a view they were the people I wanted to work with. So much of our business is based on emotion, feelings and trust, and I just thought, ‘these guys get us’. It was purely down to chemistry.”

John Clarfelt
Founder of Ticketer

Motivation for investment

A trade sale initially appealed to some of Ticketer’s shareholders, but for John it was about finding a route to growth that matched Ticketer’s ethos.

“I was the first stage of the Ticketer rocket – we’d got into orbit, but we needed the next stage. I didn’t want a trade sale myself, because we couldn’t guarantee that trade buyers would be able to maintain the culture,” says John.

“Whereas Tenzing got it, so private equity let us do what we wanted to do without affecting our approach.”

Ticketer-Image

How have we helped Ticketer since investing?

An acquisition and new CFO appointment have been some of the milestones on Ticketer’s journey with Tenzing so far.

“We will end up with the largest product portfolio in our area as a result of acquiring (Nordics-based) FARA. The reality is, we never would have done that in a million years without Tenzing,” John affirms.

“Tenzing has really shown us how you take a startup that was reasonably large, and start to scale it. Ticketer has a phenomenal team and everything used to be done in kind of a hand to mouth way. Whereas now it’s more structured. It’s helped us understand how to grow.”

John has valued not just the outcomes, but the learning process.

“The first thing they did was actually teach us how to do better in terms of recruitment of top people. I’ve never used a headhunter in my life. What I found astounding was that the candidates that were put in front of us were absolutely spot on.”

The level of collaboration and trust has also been a highlight.

“They have left the decision making more to us than I expected. I had someone after a board meeting comment on what a friendly and positive experience it was, with Tenzing wanting to get the best out of the business. It’s that cooperation and collegial approach that we absolutely love,” John states.

And of course, Tenzing has played a big part in succession planning for John moving on from CEO, searching for and appointing Andy Monshaw.

“It was always intended I’d move on. I’m 67 and I don’t want to do the next round. The idea was I’d get us all used to working with Tenzing, then find the right person and I’d move sideways,” John notes.

He is now looking forward to seeing Ticketer, with Tenzing’s support, grow both in product portfolio and footprint.

Key Facts

Investment Highlights

SHERPA

Clive O’Sullivan

Clive has been supporting the Founder & CEO at Ticketer since 2019. He supported the acquisition of FARA and his most recent project has been a commercial analysis of Ticketer’s products. He is now looking at new opportunities for the group.

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