Founded by two Indians, Saurabh Arora and Mayank Maheshwari, University Living, an innovative-managed marketplace and purpose-built housing provider for international students pursuing higher education, has clocked a 300 per cent year-on-year increase in its revenues.
From booking 50,000 nights in the year of its debut, the company has achieved the current average booking rate of 120,000 nights per month since 2016. In the past four months alone, the company has exceeded the total business it did last year, beating the target number and internal milestones for FY 2019-20 ahead of time.
Currently offering 1 million beds in 12,000 verified properties, University Living has established a global presence in more than 180 international cities across markets such as the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Dubai, and Singapore.
Apart from accommodation, University Living also covers other aspects of living abroad such as booking of student accommodation, local guarantor support, forex solutions, room essentials, concierge service, and opening a student bank account, among others. The start-up also enables students to access forex support and education loans.
Eyeing the growing student housing market in India, the startup is now foraying into the domestic industry though managing accommodation globally continues to be its core competency.
"Though accommodation is our core competency, we also help students in settling down overall. Now we have also started helping Indian students moving to other cities within the country. People come and discover accommodation on our platform and we also help in documentation and check-in. We also have exclusive contracts with local channel partners by which we get curated accommodation on our website while there are some properties that we manage also," said co-founder Saurabh Arora.
Based on an asset light model with rooms listed on our managed marketplace, University Living is already catering to 40-50 per cent of Indian students going abroad. According to Ishan Singh, Advisor and Lead Investor from Indian Angel Network (IAN), one of the investors in University Living, the potential value of catering to Indian students abroad is estimated at $10 billion. Singh assumes an average annual accommodation spend of $10000 by one million students travelling abroad every year from India.
University Living's foray in India comes at a time when the student housing market in the country is witnessing an over nine per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). As per Anarock property consultants' data, student housing offers massive demand of more than 10 million beds across the top major cities of the country. The segment offers high rental yields – projected to be anywhere between 14-17 per cent - much higher than established asset classes like residential and commercial properties.
"Out of the total 36 million students pursuing higher education in the country, more than 75 per cent students live outside their homes. And, surprisingly the existing hostel facilities can accommodate only 18-20 per cent of the total migrant student population. Hence, there is a huge untapped potential for student accommodation in the country. As the sector grows, tremendous opportunities will arise for various models of student housing business to flourish such as university tie-ups, independent housing, managed services, etc," said Anuj Puri, Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants.