University Living, an intelligent software-retrieval global Student housing marketplace, has clocked in over $300 million in gross bookings Incepted in 2015 and launched in 2016, University Living has seen tremendous growth in these past 6 years. By expanding their reach and catering to 265+ popular global study-abroad destinations across the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia, Canada & Europe, they have managed to double their revenue year-on-year since inception, with a whopping 3.5x growth during the pandemic year in 2021.
Saurabh Arora, Founder and CEO at University Living, said that since its launch back in 2016, University Living has booked over 7 million nights, interacted with over 6 million students and even managed to stay profitable since day one.
Saurabh adds, “In just a matter of 6 years we have come a long way and what an incredible journey it has been! However, we have miles to go before we sleep. We’ve only just scratched the surface; exciting times lie ahead. We plan on creating enhanced and seamless experiences in the student accommodation arena, pursue exciting global opportunities and rapidly advance our core product & service offering.”
“As more students venture out to study abroad, the student accommodation sector continues to expand rapidly with their being a dearth towards the fag end of the booking season. We plan on addressing all of those concern areas and more to give a student a holistic experience in their home away from home. We are working closely with our partners to bring safe, thought-through accommodation spaces that make their stay seamless and their lives simpler.”
The top preferred destination among students continues to be the UK, followed by the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. The RedSeer report indicates that the student housing market has tripled in the last 10 years and is slated to double from its current size by 2025. In fact, according to data shared by AECC global, 91% of Indian students preferred to study abroad in 2021, regardless of Covid-19. Globally there are over 35 million studying abroad. Recent trends show that students are looking for study destinations to set them up with an all-inclusive package.
LA’s Ares Management Corp. invested a whopping $217 million on their first student housing property in the UK, and Malaysia’s Sunway RE Capital partnered with MBU Capital to manage a PBSA in the UK worth £110 million. Blackstone formed a $784 million joint venture with Landmark Properties to invest in eight student housing properties totaling 5,416 beds across the U.S. All this just goes to show that the student housing market has shown resilience in the face of the pandemic and investors are starting to pay attention and take steps to help further it.
Sachin Tagra, Partner, JSW Ventures, has been personally vested in University Living’s growth story. He recalls, ”The journey hasn’t been easy for UL, but even in the face of adversity and grave challenges, the team led by Saurabh and Mayank have fought bravely. It’s incredible to see how they have managed to scale the business from scratch and bring it to 300 million GMV!
The focus for University Living has always been to create a long-term sustainable business by focusing on the right balance between new-age business deliverables and adding value to the end user. They have managed to spread their geographical footprint globally while being headquartered in India. Customer-centricity, transparency and innovation has always taken the wheel for their growth story.” He continued to talk about how UL adapted to the disruption of the pandemic stating, “…they adopted future-proof technology, sought out productive partnerships and didn’t hesitate to venture into new customer markets. This helped with cost efficiencies and premeditated damage control. I wish them well as they continue on this journey.”
Hence, this milestone becomes significant in the current scheme of things. They seem to be working judiciously on several new product and service launches this year from the 150+ person-startup headquartered in Delhi NCR, including the platform’s compare feature, one-click instant bookings, exclusive deals and discounts on accommodation, travel and even exclusive scholarship deals and more.
Apart from accommodation, University Living also covers other aspects of living abroad such as local guarantor support, forex solutions, room essentials, concierge service, and helping them with their overseas bank account, among others. The start-up also enables students to access forex support and education loans. They boast of a 150K strong global student community that they are connected to via their social channels.
Mayank Maheshwari, Co-Founder & COO at University Living, stated, “Over 35 million full-time students pursue higher education in our addressable markets. Out of that, only 16% students can be accommodated in existing university-led hostels. There are approximately 3 million student housing PBSA beds being operated by major players in the addressable market. This is a market that has plenty of potential for growth with the student to bed ratio skewed at 4:1 ratio. This is exactly the kind of market demand that we, at University Living, want to fulfill. We strive to build the world’s largest student housing managed marketplace that is both efficient and loved; a platform that delivers the best-in-class living experience to guarantee a home for every student.“