After 190% Growth Amidst the Pandemic, Unibuddy Aims to Empower 10 Million Students by 2025, Doubling Down on Efforts in U.S. and APAC.
Unibuddy, the number one peer-to-peer university recruitment platform that has helped 770,000 students from over 180 countries make better decisions about their higher education journey, has raised $20 million USD in funding. The Series B round was led by Highland Europe with additional participation from Stride.VC. Unibuddy has raised a total of USD $32 million since its inception in 2017. This round comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for Unibuddy that saw the company almost triple its revenues. Accelerated by the pandemic, interest in the peer-to-peer platform and its products soared.
Unibuddy’s growth is also indicative of a larger trend, as the rate of digital adoption within higher education marketing has skyrocketed: 82% of institutions are either engaging in, exploring or working to develop a digital transformation strategy.* Unibuddy has provided a first-of-its-kind virtual window into the higher education experience for the digitally native Gen Z community. When exploring a university’s website, applicants from anywhere in the world can chat with existing students and staff in real-time about a variety of topics.
Popular discussions on the platform center around fitting in, programs of study, employability upon graduation, student life, admissions requirements, and testing criteria. In 2020, the number of messages sent by college applicants via Unibuddy’s platform quadrupled compared to the prior year. Unibuddy has partnered with 450+ higher education customers to help prospective students applying to college in 35 countries worldwide. By connecting student ambassadors and staff with university applicants, institutions can attract a larger and more diverse student population as well as significantly increase student enrollment. The 12 million messages exchanged on Unibuddy to date have provided universities with insights that inform their marketing strategies.
The United Kingdom is Unibuddy’s largest market. The peer-to-peer platform has more than 80% of local institutions on board, including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College and King’s College London. In 2019, Unibuddy announced its partnership with UCAS, the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education that manages almost three million applications from around 700,000 candidates each year. More than 35% of prospective students chatting through Unibuddy’s platform are based in the UK, which is also one of the top five markets for international student demand (12% of students studying in the UK come from abroad). When engaging with Unibuddy Ambassadors, prospective students are most curious about the application process and how to best prepare for coursework. Their biggest concerns span racial inequality, the impact of Brexit and work placements upon graduation. The most popular courses discussed are Business Studies, Accounting and Finance, Undergraduate Law, Economics, Art & Design. Diego Fanara, co-founder and CEO of Unibuddy, explains:
“By 2025, our goal is to partner with institutions to empower 10 million students to progress on their higher education journey. We will triple the size of our engineering team, expanding our product suite and with it, our role in the higher education journey - from selecting a program, to onboarding to post-graduation. In particular, the team will double down on efforts in the United States and APAC where there is a strong appetite for university admissions and recruitment teams to engage with both domestic and international students.”
Anum Akhtar, Student Recruitment Manager of Imperial College, commented:
“There are so many factors college-bound students must take into consideration when making one of the most important decisions in their lives. We’re proud to partner with Unibuddy to better understand our applicants, increase engagement and help us achieve our recruitment objectives in a challenging market. With Unibuddy 47% of new prospects went on to apply after chatting with an ambassador.”
Fergal Mullen, partner at Highland Europe, said:
“The higher education market is projected to reach almost $118 billion USD by 2027 and areas such as recruitment and retention are ripe for innovation.** Unibuddy’s impressive list of institutional partners and growing participation from students around the world are indicative of the platform’s impact on university marketing and recruitment. We know from conversations with many University administrators that Unibuddy delivers significant benefits by enabling them to more effectively target suitable student applicants and to improve yield on offers made. We also noted that Unibuddy positively impacts first-year retention which is a huge win for Universities. We’re excited to invest in disruptive products such as Unibuddy and the ambitious teams behind them.”
Fred Destin of Stride.VC added,
"Unibuddy empowers students to take that life-changing leap of faith, to build the confidence to go study anywhere in the world their talent takes them. At Stride.VC that's a mission we are happy to double down on and put both our name and capital behind."