Noida (India)-based student housing startup Placio today announced that it has raised US$2 million in pre-Series A round of financing from Singapore-based private equity fund Prestellar Ventures.

The funding will go into Placio’s expansion activities in Southeast Asia. Additionally, it will acquire additional beds to provide students with a technology platform with features such as hostel management system, roommate matching and search, value-added services like food ordering, booking of events, CRM system and others via in-house mobile wallet.

“Singapore and Malaysia are our targets as these two countries are the most favourite destinations for students in India and other parts of Asia and Africa. We see huge opportunity in student housing in these two markets,” Rohit Pateria, Founder and CEO of Placio, told e27.

Founded in March 2016 by Pateria and Ankush Arora, Placio curates modern living spaces, fully-furnished rooms, private rooms and personal apartments in and around university campuses with trailblazing amenities. The startup was incubated by Amity Business Incubator, and it currently manages 15-plus properties.

According to the company, the total number of beds in campus housing and private hostels currently available in India is close to 6.1 million. There is an immense untapped market with 50 million students studying in colleges and universities and 60-65 per cent students studying outside their home town. With this funding, Placio intends to capitalise on this large potential market.

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“Student housing is an interesting growth sector, as there is an immense undersupply of such purpose-built accommodation in India. I can confidently say that this is where hospitality meets business keeping in mind our vision is to entirely redefine ‘student living’ by creating boundary-blurring spaces and colourful experiences to connect and thrive in smart design co-living. This, we believe will change the way the students live and study for academic success,” Pateria added.

As per Placio, most study destinations don’t have enough purpose-built student housing (PBSH) to go around, or at least not sufficient beds to keep pace with growing enrolments. PBSH beds have also historically been in short supply in most Asian as well as Western countries. This persistent supply-demand gap in purpose-built student housing is increasingly attracting large private investors that see an opportunity for above-market returns.

“Placio is a complete broker-free platform that inspires community living where for us our consumers experience is more important than simply providing housing for students. Placio brings into light the refreshing, modern yet secure concept of co-living which will help young, like-minded students to live together and connect,” said COO Arora.

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A new report from global real estate services firm Savills highlights that global investment in student housing reached high of US$16 billion up from less than US$8 billion only two years before. Institutional investors, sovereign wealth and pension funds snapped up portfolios in a global search for scale and income producing investments, says the report. Activity was focused on the US and UK; the most mature global markets where the majority of investable stock is found. Viewed by investors as a residential asset, the sector is maturing fast in mainland Europe

“Similar trends are fast picking up in India and South East Asia, too,” added Pateria. “Most institutions or schools provide their own campus or near-to-campus accommodations, but many lack the funds or expertise to bring this housing up to the standards that students expect today. And this opens up opportunities for [joint ventures] and partnering arrangements with private sector operators.”