South African student accommodation marketplace DigsConnect now has over one million listed beds.
Launched by Alexandria Procter and Greg Ramsay-Keal in 2018, the DigsConnect platform allows landlords, estate agents and property managers to post their property listings, with students then searching and filtering through these listings to find accommodation that suits their needs, and also find other students to live with.
The startup, which raised ZAR12 million (then US$830,000) in March 2019 and last year secured a ZAR3 million (US$200,000) grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, recently entered into an agreement with the world’s largest student accommodation site, Student.com, enabling it to expand its presence to approximately 30 new countries and 400 new cities.
DigsConnect now has over one million beds listed on its platform, with Procter saying that in the most recent season the company placed nearly 17 times more students than in the season prior, with booking growth at 150 per cent week on week.
“When we founded DigsConnect.com, a key motivator was a series of targets written on the wall of our small office space. One of these goals was to reach one million beds on the platform by 2028. To have achieved this monumental number in just four years is incredible and sets the pace for our future milestones,” she said.
Nonetheless, Procter said the last two years have been tough to navigate.
“When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, we had 80% per cent cancellation rates and in the months that followed, universities remained closed and students took to studying from home. We were very lucky to raise funding in mid-2021 which helped to keep our doors open and gave us room to pivot our offering to young adults that weren’t affected by the university closures. Added to this, our partnership with Student.com helped us to enter different markets, each responding to the pandemic at different stages,” she said.
Procter said DigsConnect’s focus will soon shift to preparation for the European and American peak seasons.
“A diversified geographic representation gives us multiple seasons a year, allowing us to bring in revenue year-round and have continual feedback cycles to continually improve our product and services,” she said.