Exclusive| Amber’s Way Forward: Indian Start-Up Wants To Own Student Accommodation Around the World

Headquartered in Maharashtra, Amber is an accommodation platform for students studying in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany and Spain
Mr. Saurabh Goel, CEO & Co-Founder and Mr. Madhur Gujar, CBO & Co-Founder
Mr. Saurabh Goel, CEO & Co-Founder and Mr. Madhur Gujar, CBO & Co-Founder

Amber, an Indian online platform that aggregates student accommodations in North America, western Europe and Australia, is now planning to own and manage rental properties in these countries. The plan comes seven years after the start-up was spawned in Maharashtra’s Pune in 2017.

The company serves Indian students and students of other nationalities studying in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and has recently expanded to Germany and Spain.

It assists students in finding verified housing options, allowing them to compare and book properties, eliminating the need for broker negotiations, simplifies paperwork and facilitates payment processes.

The company claims to offer 1 million beds and arranges accommodation near 800 universities in countries where it operates.

Speaking to Outlook Business, Saurabh Goel, chief executive officer (CEO) of Amber, said the company is expanding rapidly in terms of solving the problem of safe and trusted accommodation for more than a billion users monthly from 50 countries across the globe.

“A lot of marketplaces eventually end up having their own products. We too are in the initial stages of exploring the opportunity of having our own properties and we expect to come up with our own inventory in a year's time,” Goel added.

The company recently raised its first round of institutional funding of $21 million led by Gaja Capital, an India-focussed private equity firm.

The round comprised $18.5 million in fresh equity and the remaining in venture debt from Singapore-based investment firm Lighthouse Canton and Indian venture debt firm Stride Ventures. The funds are being used for strategic expansion and scaling the business.

Prior to the first round of institutional funding, the company was funded by multiple angel investors including ridesharing app Ola’s Bhavish Aggarwal and digital ledger app Khatabook founder Ravish Naresh.

Saurabh Goel said Amber has been profitable for the last three years and has made $400 million in gross booking value in the last financial year and is expecting to double-up on its gross book value.

He added that the start-up is actively pursuing partnerships with student loan providers such as Gyandhan, ForeignAdmits and MPower Financing as well as foreign education consultancies such as Krishna Consultancy and AdmitKart to drive business and assist students in finding accommodation abroad.

The global student housing market was estimated to be worth $11 billion in 2021, according to a report by Business Research Insights. The market is expected to grow to $18.7 billion by 2032, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.95 per cent.

Leading players in the organised student housing business include University Living, Your Space, Good Host Spaces and Homeversity.

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