Henning Schmidt, Founder, Erasmate S.E.
“Exchange student Accommodation”
The life of an exchange student is one of discovery, of not just a new country but also of a new culture, people and way of living. However some factors can throw a monkey wrench in the sublime experience that you imagine exchange studentship to be. The most difficult factor one to beat is often the simplest namely; finding accommodation. Henning Schmidt explained how one can solve this problem by going online to a website called erasmate.com. The intrepid entrepreneur explained to Yourstory how erasmate.com can solve one’s shelter problem with the click of a mouse.
What kind of services does Erasmate offer exchange students?
Erasmate is Europe’s first student-to-student housing website that specifically caters to the needs of students going on an exchange across Europe. In addition, students from overseas can use the portal to find accommodation in any European country. Students can both find accommodation and offer their own place for sub-rent when going abroad. Furthermore, Erasmate offers special student deals, such as best price flights, mobile phone contracts and travel guides. The basic functionalities of Erasmate can be used for free; people who want to highlight their housing offers or those who want to be auto-matched to selected offers can create a paid-for premium account.
Are there any limits to your services?
Erasmate is useful for all students going on an exchange across Europe. The so called Erasmus program currently sends about 190,000 students abroad per year and grows by around 5% every year.
Why would an exchange student prefer to use your site and not use others?
Erasmate is the only cross-border platform for student-to-student housing in Europe. No other housing website offers the possibility to post a room in country A while searching for a room in country B. By offering all basic services for free, Erasmate fights the unfair (but common) pricing model of sign up fees or pay-per-contact that do not ensure a success in finding accommodation.
Are there any plans to implement your services anywhere else?
While we currently focus on the European market, the business can be taken to a global level quite easily, when seen from a technical aspect. One of the first steps towards internationalization will be attracting students from overseas such as India or the US who plan to study in Europe.What do you like most about living an entrepreneur’s life?
Great people that I get to work with, a lot of positive responsibility and the admiration of people with a “regular” job.
Being an entrepreneur just gives me so much more freedom to follow through with the things I want to achieve and to really make a difference. Large corporations are a clear necessity in our economy, but it is Entrepreneurs who drive innovation!
What has been the biggest challenge for Erasmate?
The biggest challenge so far was the formation of our team. As we are people from different backgrounds with a variety of experiences, it was not always easy to meet everyone’s expectations, but so far we managed quite well by openly talking to each other.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt about conducting business?
My biggest mistake as an amateur entrepreneur fortunately did not happen in my current but in a previous business. Back then, I set up a company with an idea of which I was not totally enthusiastic about. Logically, the idea died soon and the company went down the drain.
How did you raise the necessary seed capital for your company?
So far, Erasmate is fully financed with our own as well as friends’ and families’ capital. Quite soon, we will change our legal entity and might be looking for external capital then.
Has your work or company been recognized by any entities in your field?
As universities are the main catalyst for growing Erasmate, we are happy that more than 30 universities across Europe recommend us as the preferred accommodation service to their students.Where do you see Erasmate heading in the next two years?
In 2 years, Erasmate will be the number one housing platform in Europe – not only on the cross-border section, but also within most individual countries, as it convinces with its superior offering and its fair pricing model.
What message would you like to convey to our readers/ entrepreneurs in India?
Follow through with your idea even if people try to throw obstacles in your way. If you believe in it, you can achieve any goal you want!
Yourstory wishes erasmate.com and Henning luck with expanding further and hopes to see their services come to India. We hope Henning has a great entrepreneurial journey and hope to hear more from him in the future.