Student living

UK-based international student accommodation marketplace Student.com has raised US$60 million in a round led by global investment firm VY Capital, with participation from Horizons Ventures (the technology investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-Shing’s fund), Expa, Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and Hugo Barra from Xiaomi.

It will channel the newly raised capital towards international expansion in regions such as the US, Middle East and Latin America. Also, the money will enable the hiring of teams in key markets and accelerating technological innovation on its platform.

By the end of the year, Students.com will have listings in 426 cities for over 1,000 universities. The startup has over 200 people in its employ in markets such as London, Shanghai, New York and Hong Kong.

Tackling a growing need

Formed in 2011 under the name Overseas Student Living (OSL), Founder and CEO Luke Nolan — who was then working in China — observed first hand the troubles of finding reliable student accommodation abroad and sought to tackle this painpoint. He was joined three years later by Co-founders Shakil Khan, who directs the strategy as well as assume advisory roles, and John Paul Jones, who is heading the business technology solutions. In 2015, OSL rebranded itself as Student.com.

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The website is available in 11 languages, and is supported by a team of multilingual agents. Each landlord listed has a contractual relationship with Student.com, which it claims will ensure only the trustworthy living spaces appear on the platform.

“The student housing market is arguably one of the single biggest industries not yet digitised,” said Khan. “With Student.com, we’re not only enabling international students the world over to quickly and easily find housing abroad; we’re also giving landlords a digital and global infrastructure to reach millions of students.”

Overseas education is a growing industry, and that is fuelling the need for international student housing. According to the official press release, an estimated 5 million students are currently studying abroad and the number of higher education students going overseas to study is growing at an average annual rate of 6.4 percent.

Student.com claims it brought home US$110 million in bookings last year from students in more than 100 countries.

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