After experiencing the pain of searching for a suitable accommodation first hand at a university in the UK, friends Saurabh Arora and Mayank Maheshwari decided to solve this all too prevalent problem, one that students the world over are uncomfortably familiar with.
Saurabh says, "Universities provide accommodation to only 25 percent of the total students enrolled. This is due to the limited provision for accommodation at the University. There remains a huge need for safe and affordable student accommodation in most of the university cities across the globe."
With an eye on easing the stay for international students, the duo founded University Living.
The duo aims to foster and empower international students by assisting them in securing safe, secure and value-for-money accommodation, thereby promoting quality international education across the globe.
So, how did they go about pursuing this vision?
Saurabh and Mayank started University Living in January 2015. They built a platform for international students to discover, compare and book the perfect accommodation for themselves. To make it easier this procedure could be completed from their native country itself for the duration of their university tenure.
Today, they have a presence in the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Dubai. They are also expanding to the US and other global education hubs like Canada, Germany and Italy, as well as other parts of Europe. “We are currently covering more than 50 cities, with over 1,250 verified properties and 350,000 beds. We have also partnered with many Purpose Built Student Accommodation ( PBSA ) providers across the world,” Saurabh says.
They have established a close network of overseas counsellors in the Indian subcontinent.
They have been able to assist more than 6,000 international students so far. This comprises of 30 percent foreign students and rest native Indian students from across the country.
They have a team of 8 full-time employees and 4 part-time Interns and it is headquartered in Delhi. They are expanding the team and are looking out to hire more people in the team.
In the last two years, they claim to have grown by 300 percent year-on-year. They aim to accommodate 25,000 students in the next three years and have a long-term target of serving 100,000 international students in the next five to seven years.
What is their market size?
University Living is targeting a huge market of over 10 million students, those who are seeking university education abroad or in their native country. They also found that 20 percent of university students stay in PBSAs.
University Living does not charge its students. The startup’s primary revenue comes from their referred accommodation partners, in the form of referral commissions and marketing budgets. They are working on their mobile application, which will include features like matchmaking, a replacement finder and more, which will be chargeable for students. They have also added ancillary services like visa assistance, travel insurance, education loans and forex cards.
They are getting paid by their preferred partners on the basis of current online traffic. In the future, they will leverage this to generate revenue from advertisement.
Among the services that we could see from University Living in the future are:
-Online university application and recruitment,