Student.com wants to change the way the world’s students book their accommodation, in the same way that Spotify changed the way the world listened to music.
With these ambitions in mind, the global student booking platform has secured investment worth $60m to significantly extend its global reach.
The investment will mean further global expansion, with a focus on technology, partnerships, and the growth of listed locations and offices worldwide.
Shakil Khan, co-founder of Student.com and early investor into music listening app, Spotify, told The PIE News that the company wants to offer “the most amazing experience for the students, both in terms of technology and in terms of processes. But also a seamless easy-to-use experience around the world.”
The $60m investment was led by VY Capital, and also saw participation from Horizons Ventures, Expa, the founders of Spotify and the vice president of international for the technology company, Xiaomi.
For the upcoming academic year, the platform, previously known as Overseas Student Living, will be listing properties in 426 cities worldwide, in close proximity to around 1,000 universities.
Last year, Student.com saw bookings from 100 countries. China, Hong Kong and India are its largest markets.
The platform was founded in 2011 by Luke Nolan in China, to help international students find accommodation when going to study abroad, leveraging a need to help an outbound student flow, primarily.
Khan joined officially as co-founder in 2014, with John-Paul Jones also joining as a second co-founder and executive vice president of technology.
They have global growth in mind in line with international student demand for cities and countries.
“If every year we can add 100 cities, we constantly give more options for students,” said Nolan. “No matter what, if a student asks for help we’ll always try to serve them.”
Each property landlord has a contractual relationship with Student.com, which acts as a booking agent and does not own its own property.
“We’re always dealing with a corridor or a flow,” explained Nolan. “Whether it’s Korea to the US, China to Australia, Nigeria to the UK.”
“It’s always about a source of students from one country going to a destination in another country,” he added. “And so [we aim to] be truly global in terms of our footprint from taking care of every student from every source going to every destination.”
“Eventually the goal is to make sure that everywhere there’s an education institution that a student wants to go to, we have a solution for the student.”
Many users of the platform are also students who are still researching their study abroad experience and are not looking to book any accommodation for the next year or two.
The enquiries and expectations from students also vary slightly according to where they are coming from.
Nolan said, for example, Chinese students, who typically share a room with a number of other students, “they’re not going to be familiar with what accommodation is like internationally. So certainly the concept of having your own room or your own bathroom is something totally different,” he said.
Student.com currently employs 200 people with offices in London, Shanghai and New York. Between them, staff speak 33 languages.
“There’s obviously millions of international students out there and, I say to people, every single student has to live somewhere,” said Nolan.
“They might buy a car, they might not buy a car, but they absolutely must live somewhere.”