Headquarters: Lagos, Nigeria and London, UK
Vertical: Higher Education
Tech: Web App
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
studysearch.co connects prospective international students with on-demand ‘peer’ study advisors for advice and support applying to universities abroad. Our peer advisors are current students and alumni of leading universities around the world.
Prospective students tell us what countries they’d like to study in, the university, and course they want to study and what support they need. We instantly connect them with a peer advisor and service partners that can help. All in one dashboard, on any internet connected device.
Our mission is simple – to empower students with the information and tools needed to make the best decision about their future.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Our founders are Frederik Obasi and Taofeeq Alabi, we have founded and launched start-ups in the UK and Nigeria and have experience studying and living in both the UK and Africa. Frederik is the CEO and focuses on strategy, operations and business development while Taofeeq leads on product.
How was the idea for your startup born?
StudySearch was born out of our personal experience. Whilst living in London we helped out family and friends in Nigeria with UK university applications.
After relocating to Nigeria from the UK, we found that just like friends in our network, many other young Nigerians decide to further their education abroad but we’re being underserved by traditional agents and didn’t have the information they needed to make the best decision.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
We believe in order to make the best decision about study options, prospective students need access to qualitative, ‘real life’ information. Many of the online services supporting students in making their education choices are obsessed with the quantitative information – scores, male to female ratios, international student population, acceptance rates etc.
The most under-utilised and probably the best source for information on applying to university, life as a student and even careers is a current student or alumni. We want to open up their ‘insiders’ knowledge to the world.
Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?
Our competitors are both agents and recently launched start-ups.
Some agents work hard to support students however the problems are well documented; high fees, biased information, lack of transparency and even fraud. Other start-ups operating in the space focus on data crunching and statistics.
We believe the layer of information missing on the web in regards to education is information and knowledge from learners and students themselves. We’re helping prospective students crowdsource the information and support needed to make the best decision. Our approach to solving the problem – ensures highly personal support is affordable, transparent, efficient and accurate – and works at scale.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
We are currently active in Africa – specifically Nigeria and Ghana where 90% of students using StudySearch are located.
A burgeoning middle class and fast growing population across Africa means there is an increase in the demand for quality education. Africa is amongst the fastest growing regions for globally mobile students.
We focus on prospective international students, embarking on both undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Who is your target audience.
Our current users are prospective undergrad and postgrad students located in Nigeria or across Africa. Our target peer advisor is a current international student or recent graduate with strong ties to Africa. We’re working hard to ensure prospective students from Africa are matched with peer advisors that have experienced and understand their context.
On the B2B side we focus on global universities that are seriously committed to Nigeria and wider African opportunity for student enrolment. We also work with standardised test providers, immigration consultants and student accommodation providers, to ensure students can get from application to arrival seamlessly via one StudySearch dashboard.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
By far, we have seen the most growth and discovery of our product come through recommendations and word of mouth. Prospective students and advisors are surprised that a service like ours exists and most importantly works in Africa! So they share with their personal network.
We also engage with prospective international students through official partnerships with local secondary schools, online we focus on location producing specific content to engage our users.
A Majority of the interest we’ve received from our university and service partners has been inbound, and we are working currently with 20+ universities and student service providers. We are rolling out a structured university and partner program this quarter and focusing on global universities with a real desire to operate in Nigeria and across Africa.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
We currently offer universities the flexibility of either a commission based agreement or access to our student recruitment management portal for an annual subscription fee. We also monetise through partnerships with service providers (language testing, student accommodation providers etc).
This allows us to give our product away to prospective students for absolutely free. We do, however, offer premium support for the students (and families) looking to fast track the application and preparation process. They can upgrade their account for a $200 fee.
Our advisors are able to earn monetary and non monetary rewards for the advice and support they provide.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
To date we raised $25k from the Savannah Fund, a leading seed stage investor in Africa, and we are currently raising a new round of funding.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
Within the first month of launching our peer advisor program we received over 500 applications from current international students and recent graduates from Africa studying at universities in every continent.
We’re serving customers that love our product and will see our first cohort of applicants embark on their studies abroad in September. We have built and continue to grow our start up operating primarily from a country that many in the global community, see as a dangerous and challenging region.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
We will be aggressively growing and on-boarding the numbers of prospective students and peer advisors in our network as well as universities and student service partners.
We are recruiting talented people both locally and globally to ensure we have the right team to execute on our goals and visions.