One of the most critical steps for a student is finding a place to stay when they have to move away from home. There’s a Portuguese startup aiming to help: UniPlaces. It’s a booking platform that promises to make this easier. For now, they are present in Lisbon and London, but plan to expand. I talked with Maria Almeida, Head of Content and Brand Communications of UniPlaces.
UniPlaces was conceived in 2011. In a nutshell, what is it and how has the growing process been going so far?
It’s been a learning process. We started with an idea and we have changed and adapted Uniplaces ever since. In 2011 we had a completely different website and now we have evolved into a much more complete version. Today Uniplaces is a booking platform, that allows students from all over the world to book their accommodation in a safe and easy way. We have grown the company to 30 people, expanded to a different city (London), and we are planning much more for the future. A lot has changed in the past couple of years, and we are here to face the next challenges. This is what a startup is all about.
Leaving home is surely an important step in the life of a student. How does UniPlaces propose to ease that step?
We help students find their home abroad. Leaving your home is a very important step and we take that big concern off their shoulders. With Uniplaces, students and young professionals can book their accommodation in a safe and easy way. We verify properties, we write the descriptions and take our own professional photos, to guarantee the quality of the accommodation we advertise. Our users can easily book a property in advance from anywhere in the world.
What kind of feedback have you been getting?
The feedback has been good. We constantly ask for feedback from our investors, our users and our partners. We know the potential of the business we are growing and we want to keep evolving and improving.
How has the relationship with the Universities been evolving?
Universities and other partners are very important to Uniplaces. We have closed partnerships with the best universities and student programs, such as Universidade Nova, CEMS, Católica and ISCTE. This is a priority to us and we want to have all the leading partners in our segment.
What are your main goals for 2014?
The main goal is to establish Uniplaces as a company and no longer as a startup. We want to scale our processes and set operations in different cities. We will expand to Spain very soon and we will be present in 3 major european cities.
Are there plans to expand to other cities besides Lisbon and London?
Yes, we have big plans coming up. We will be expanding to Spain very soon.
How do you see the startup landscape in Europe and, in particular, in Portugal?
It’s very promising and it keeps improving. A few years ago you would never think of Portugal as a startup hub. But now you do. Thanks to innovative projects and to hubs such as Start up Lisboa, Portugal is an incredible place to start your own company.
Find out more about UniPlaces at http://www.uniplaces.com