Octopus leads £700,000 backing of student accommodation site Uniplaces

London-based start-up claims to be world’s first unified student housing search

International student accommodation website Uniplaces today announced it has raised £700,000 in seed funding, led by venture capital firm Octopus Investments.

Founded in November 2011 by former private equity associate Ben Grech and Mariano Kostelec, Uniplaces was established as a booking platform for student accommodation of all types, from private accommodation to student halls.

The company claims to fill a gap in what has historically been a fragmented market by offering students a safe, easy-to-use site in which they can browse and book properties across London and Lisbon.

It has proved particularly popular with international students, who can use the site to quickly book accommodation in another country before they arrive.

Founded in Lisbon, the company moved its headquarters to London in June this year.

The £700,000 Octopus-led investment also included input from existing investor and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman and William Reeve, chairman of healthy snacks site Graze.com.

It will be used to promote the platform to private landlords with a view to expanding the number and type of properties advertised on the site, as well as funding expansion to more cities.

Rebecca Marshall of Octopus Investments commented: “Uniplaces is an innovative business model that has found a niche in a large and attractive market. The growth in the number of students, in particular those travelling abroad for university courses, is giving rise to an increased demand for reliable accommodation, particularly that which can be booked online.

“The business has demonstrated good early traction to date and we see great potential for opportunities in other geographical regions, both in the UK and in other countries. We have been impressed by the management team and their strong international experience, and we are excited about partnering with them in the next stage of the company’s development.”

Ben Grech, co-founder of Uniplaces, added: “We are very happy to be working with such high quality investors who recognise the scale of the opportunity for Uniplaces.

“We know that Uniplaces is desperately needed in cities around the world, and the financial backing of Octopus will help us to get there faster.”

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