Could the pain of finding somewhere to live be nearly over?
Finding a flat is one of the most stressful experiences of university.
Whether you’re figuring out how to fit five friends into a 4-bed house, dealing with dodgy lettings contracts or managing the mold spreading in dank flats.
But first there’s the sheer ordeal of walking around dozens of agents, registering in the hope of finding the best properties.
Jack Jenkins went through the pain in 2010, as a student at Cardiff University.
At the time he knew there must be a better way, and even bought the website name UniversityCribs.co.uk in the hope that one day he might figure it out.
Today Jenkins, along with fellow Cardiff alumni Daniel Jefferys and co-founder Christian Samuel, he’s done exactly that.
“It’s like a Zoopla for student property,” Jenkins told The Memo.
“Ultimately every student needs A) food and B) somewhere to live. The food problem was not an easy one to solve so we settled on student accommodation,” he says.
It was the right decision.
Today University Cribs isn’t just big in Cardiff (where right now over 600 available student flats, houses and private halls are available), but in 24 other university towns across the UK.
As they describe it, it’s “one central online platform where students can view properties and private halls, then message the letting agent, arrange a viewing or find out more information.”
It’s not the first time someone’s tried to build this kind of ‘Zoopla for student flats’ – in fact Zoopla have their own student accommodation site – but Jenkins says his team benefit from their connections with the student community and the fact that they’ve all been through the rigmarole of trying to find a flat at uni.
Today 10,000 new properties are being added to University Cribs every month, and it’s becoming the go-to place for students looking for a place to live.
This week Jenkins and his team launched in their biggest market yet, London.
Despite the scale of the challenge, with 40 higher education institutions covering some 400,000 students, University Cribs aren’t phased.
“It’s a super-competitive market for estate agents too,” says Jenkins.
“They need to make sure they have that extra edge to make sure they can reach students before their competitors. And with the huge number of international students there’s another angle they need to be able to reach.”
It’s still a massive challenge for Jenkins and his team to climb, requiring them to sign up hundreds of lettings agents across the capital.
But, if successful, Zoopla and RightMove could find themselves outmanoeuvred by this plucky young challenger, and the uni students of the future might never again have to deal with the stress of finding a flat.