After 190% Growth Amidst the Pandemic, Unibuddy Aims to Empower 10 Million Students by 2025, Doubling Down on Efforts in U.S. and APAC
New York, NY - JULY 7, 2021 — Unibuddy, the number one peer-to-peer university recruitment platform that has helped 770,000 students from more than 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 $32 million USD since its inception in 2017.
This round comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for Unibuddy that saw the company almost tripled 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 centre 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. On average, Unibuddy’s partners experience a 51% yield2 globally compared to the 40% U.S. institutional average.
The United States is one of Unibuddy’s largest markets with 136 university partners across the country, from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to Fordham University in New York City, and the University of Arizona. Ready to rebuild and innovate after COVID-19, U.S. institutions are focused on addressing new student recruitment challenges, from attracting quality candidates, cultivating diversity and inclusion, and addressing concerns on trust and safety. Unibuddy’s platform is most popular with prospects and institutions alike in New York, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts. College applicants’ three biggest concerns in the U.S. are related to admissions and applications, finances and financial aid, and careers and employability. The most popular courses discussed are Computer Science, Communications, Political Science, Business and Economics.
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.”
Jessica Raquel Stern, Assistant Director, Graduate & International Recruitment at the University of Southern California Viterbi School, commented:
“Our mission is to serve California, the nation and the world. Unibuddy helps us connect with university applicants of all backgrounds from all over the globe, ensuring that we maintain that commitment to a diverse student population. By turning our own students into digital brand ambassadors, we create meaningful virtual connections that serve to inform and inspire - through thoughtful and engaging conversations.”
Fergal Mullen, Partner at Highland Europe, said: “The higher education market is projected to reach almost $118 billion USD by 20273 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."
Unibuddy offers smarter student recruitment for higher education institutions by enabling prospects and applicants to virtually connect with student ambassadors and school staff through the seamless web integration of its direct messaging platform. Partnering with universities around the world since 2017, Unibuddy has helped more than 12 million domestic and international prospects make one of the most important decisions of their lives by humanizing, personalizing and digitizing their higher education journey through chat, live events and top-tier partnerships with institutions worldwide. Unibuddy has 117 employees across New York, London, Bangalore and Singapore.
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