An online booking platform meant to help international students find places to live while visiting other countries has just announced that it has brought in?$60 million from investors, including the founders of Spotify and?one of the richest men in Asia.
Led by VY Capital, an investment also received?participation from?Horizons Ventures, the investment capital fund of Li Ka-Shing, the Hong Kong tycoon, as well as Spotify?founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s V . p . of International?and former Google executive. ?Barra had previously helped to operate the Android operating system and more recently finds employment with Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi Corp.
The startup, Student.com, operates in a similar fashion to Booking.com?and?specializes in university accommodations. ?The site is free for college students to use, while landlords who rent accommodations are charged a commission according to local market conditions. ?These landlords are carefully chosen through the site to guarantee high-quality accommodations to those seeking them. ?In exchange, landlords can be found help to better present their properties, including the use of an expert photographer who will take photos and writers to assist fill out the profiles, writes Jeremy Khan for Bloomberg.
\”We provide landlords with global reach and scale meaning access to international students in hundreds of countries across the world,\” the founders when asked how they incentivize landlords to sign up. \”We also bring significant value in making the marketing and booking process much smoother from end to end.\”
The site expects to grow their operation to include 426 cities all over the world with use of over 1,000 universities. ?Properties are currently listed in 300 cities worldwide.
In addition, the funding will help with new key hires that will increase the 200 employees already at the office in seven cities, including New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
Founder Luke Nolan told?Arjun Kharpal of?CNBC the money raised would be used for marketing for that website to be able to increase its users list. ?He added that investors were carefully chosen, wonderful them having experience of?overcoming challenges inside the market the start-up is looking to expand into.
Nolan believes places like?Latin America, Nigeria, Singapore and Malaysia to be of increasing importance for his company.
The company did $110 million in bookings last year. ?Although the 2014 figure wasn\’t disclosed, Nolan said the development has been “significant,” adding it\’s “more than doubled” every year. ?Every landlord holds a contractual relationship using the company that offers additional security measures.
“Imagine you moved from Shanghai to London, you haven\’t been there, you don’t know anyone there. Every single time you possess an international student moving abroad, you face this challenge,” Nolan said.
Nolan met co-founder Shakil Khan in 2005 while residing in China. ?While living there the pair began to spot the large amounts of Chinese students who were moving to study abroad with no place to live arranged?beforehand. ?Consequently, the two chose to form Overseas Student Residing in 2011, which has since transformed being Student.com.
Student.com isn\’t the only company looking for a place in this newly-growing market. ?Competitors Comfy recently raised $1.25 million in funding, while a separate company called UniPlaces has raised $24 million.