Saurabh Arora grew up in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, a couple of hours drive from the national capital, Delhi.
His family was in the furniture business for generations, something he was sure he did not want to pursue. After finishing high school from his hometown, he joined the College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University, to study economics. That is where he would meet his friend and future co-founder Mayank Maheswari, a batchmate studying commerce.
Saurabh set up Noida-based startup, University Living, an online global student accommodation marketplace in January 2015. Mayank joined him later that year in December as co-founder. The two friends were also flat mates in Delhi for seven long years.
Before starting University Living, Saurabh had a career in banking and Mayank in research and consulting. Both friends happened to have had stints overseas as post-graduate students, which is when they stumbled upon the problem statement for their future startup.
Identifying the problem
It was Saurabh who first went to the UK on an exchange programme to the University of Nottingham, as part of his MBA from Infinity Business School, Gurugram. While there, he struggled to get accommodation and had to stay in a hotel for one and a half months, for which he ended up paying a “fortune”.
Shortly after, Mayank went to the University of Northampton to pursue an MBA and struggled with the same problem. “The college and university-promoted accommodations were all filled when Mayank and I went,” Saurabh says.
According to him, only 17 percent students manage to get university accommodation across the globe; the rest have to fend for themselves. The duo knew there was a problem waiting to be solved. University Living was launched in 2015, with the tagline “home for every student”, and an aim to plug the gaps that existed within the student accommodation ecosystem globally.