A company which aims to be the ‘Tripadvisor of higher education’ has raised over £2.5m through the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia Ventures and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s EIS funds and existing private investors.
StudentCrowd’s platform provides in-depth information on universities, courses and accommodation and produces its own league tables based on reviews from existing students. The funding will enable the Wolverhampton-based company to enhance its platform and expand it to cover other student services.
StudentCrowd employs a dedicated team of researchers and publishes only reviews from verified students. It claims to have the most comprehensive and accurate data platform of its kind. Over 1.7 million students used the site in 2022, of which around 30% were international students.
In addition to the platform for students, the company provides data and insights to organisations operating within the higher education sector including PwC, Knight Frank, CBRE and JLL, as well as education providers.
StudentCrowd was founded in 2014 by former graduates Paul Humphreys and Peter Sisson with a mission to alleviate the challenges faced by prospective students comparing their higher education options. It has raised over £600,000 from private investors to support its growth to date. The company, which employs over 35 staff, plans to create 15 new jobs as a result of the latest funding round.
As part of the deal, StudentCrowd has appointed Glenn Jones as Chair. Glenn, who co-founded and sold the recruitment platform Madgex, was also on the board of edtech company Firefly.
Paul Humphreys, CEO of StudentCrowd, said: “Choosing a university is one of the biggest decisions that a young person can make. Our mission is to offer them the best quality information so they can make the best choices. Our reviews also provide valuable feedback to universities and accommodation providers, enabling them to further improve their services. This funding round will enable us to enhance the platform and pursue our goal to become the Tripadvisor of higher education.”
According to a UCAS survey, 77% of students see peer reviews as an important part of their higher education decision-making framework.
Rafael Joseph of Mercia added: “Having grown up in a digital world, today’s students are more likely to make decisions based on reviews rather than marketing material. StudentCrowd is the only platform of its type that offers reviews from verified students and covers universities, courses and accommodation. The company has huge potential for growth. This investment will enable it to establish its position as the leader in the UK market and prepare it for international expansion.”
Keira Shepperson, Director, Regional Funds at British Business Bank, said: “The Midlands Engine Investment Fund supports innovative SMEs across the Midlands and this investment from the MEIF will allow StudentCrowd to expand the business in the UK and overseas. This is a great example that shows how the MEIF backs business growth and the wider local economy through job creation in the region.”
PwC provided fundraising advice to StudentCrowd.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.