Univize is an online platform that connects prospective university students with current university students. We met the co-founders Felix Hemmerling and Kenan Muhovic to learn more about the platform they are launching.
(Featured Image: Felix Hemmerling and Kenan Muhovic, co-founders of Univize)
What is Univize?
On Univize, prospective students can speak with current students and ask all their questions about courses, housing, or the overall student life at a particular university. In return, current students can earn rewards for sharing their experience and helping other students out. Our goal is to help students find the university that best matches their personal goals, needs, and expectations.
How does it work?
Both prospective and current students can create a free profile on Univize where they include information about their educational background, interests, and sports they play. Prospective students can then simply search for current students based on country of study, university, and field of study and are matched with students who have the most similar profile. Students can of course choose to contact anyone they wish to.
A large number of students end up either switching programs/universities or continuing with a dissatisfied experience.
How did you come up with the idea?
As current university students having studied at multiple universities across the world (Kenan: Bachelor in Maastricht, exchange in Hong Kong, and a Master in Rotterdam; Felix: Bachelor in Dublin and exchange in Singapore), we realized how difficult it is to really know what it’s like to study at a particular university. Of course, you can research universities online and physically visit if you have the means, but these “traditional” methods still leave students wondering about the daily life as a student. As a result, a large number of students end up either switching programs/universities or continuing with a dissatisfied experience.
We want to enable current university students to share their experience with prospective students.
We both would have loved to speak with current students before entering university since most of our expectations that were formed from online research and physical visits turned out to be false. After speaking with literally hundreds of students from all around the world, we realized that we weren’t the only ones feeling this way and that this is truly a global problem. There’s a big case of information asymmetry between what students expect university to be like and what it’s actually like, so we want to reduce this asymmetry by simply enabling current university students to share their experience with prospective students.
Univize helps students save a huge amount of time and money that would either be spent on physical visits or expensive college consultants.
Why should students use your platform?
In contrast to websites that just provide static information about rankings and statistics, Univize gives students the possibility to find out about the “invisible” information (e.g. course load, nightlife, etc.) that’s impossible to know without speaking to current university students. Moreover, Univize puts students in touch with other students that have a similar profile (i.e. similar interests, background) so that they can ask personal questions relevant to their specific needs. Overall, Univize helps students save a huge amount of time and money that would either be spent on physical visits or expensive college consultants.
Many of current users simply use Univize because they want to help students with the same problems they faced when they were applying for university.
Not only is Univize valuable for prospective students, but also for current university students. Besides making new connections and growing their personal network, current students can become Univize ambassadors (i.e. Univizers) and enhance their communication skills, thereby adding value to their CV. Moreover, they can also use Univize to connect with other current students and figure out where they would like to go on exchange or pursue a Master’s degree. Most importantly, we believe in karma and many of current users simply use Univize because they want to help students with the same problems they faced when they were applying for university.
The competitive advantage of Univize is that students can talk to actual, current university students, and do not rely on alumni who haven’t attended university for the past 20 years.
Who are your competitors?
There are no direct competitors that fill this gap like Univize does. Although there are websites that provide videos by students about their university, these mainly focus on exchange experiences and have a very limited amount of content. Moreover, these videos are usually created in cooperation with the university, whereas we want Univize to be as independent as possible from universities. There are of course Facebook groups for incoming university students, but they fail to match students with the most similar profiles. The competitive advantage of Univize is that students can talk to actual, current university students, and do not rely on alumni who haven’t attended university for the past 20 years. Courses change, and so do universities and cities.
What is your business model?
We will offer high-conversion and segmented marketing solutions to companies, universities and other organizations, looking to advertise programs and events or recruit upcoming graduates. Students only see advertisements relevant to their profile (e.g. jobs that match their university degree), so that they are only informed of useful content and organizations are ensured of high-targeting.
High schools in Luxembourg have started to integrate Univize in their students’ orientation process, and we are planning to closely work together after the launch of the 1.0.
What are the next steps of your strategy?
After launching the beta version of our platform a bit more than a month ago, we’ve received great reception and valuable feedback from our users. We have established proof of concept, which is why we are now actively looking for seed capital in order to finalize the 1.0 version, which we aim to launch this autumn (September/October 2017). We have partnered up with a team of very skilled programmers/developers to launch our beta version and are now closely working together on the development of Univize 1.0.
In addition, we have already formed and are still forming multiple partnerships with high schools and student associations in Luxembourg, and are in talks with many other associations in other countries as well. High schools in Luxembourg have started to integrate Univize in their students’ orientation process, and we are planning to closely work together after the launch of the 1.0. We aim to create a huge network of partner institutions, and the current success in forming these partnerships shows the interest and value Univize delivers to students.