I'm Tara Annison and I'm the Head of Growth over at StudentView, the home of student reviews. I've recently graduated from the University of York and started out with my own site, very similar to StudentView but around September time we merged with StudentView to become bigger and better so that we could help inform as many students as possible.
So what exactly is StudentView?
StudentView is the student property rating website, we're a platform for students to leave honest reviews about their experiences renting private sector accommodation whilst at university. Whether that's been a good experience or a bad experience, we want to help share this information so that other students know what a property is like to rent ... before they rent it!
So how was your own experience renting at university?
Mine was sadly an absolute nightmare! I lived with some girls I'd met in first year and although we all got on, apart from one crazy girl who left, the houses we rented caused us problem after problem! In our house in second year we had a landlord who wouldn't respond to calls or texts even after our freezer door fell off! We then lost over £1000 from our deposit and this included a cleaning bill for a house that wasn't ours, £72 to fix a chipped plug casing, even though our landlord was an electrician and a plug casing costs 72p from B&Q, and then he charged us for a skip to remove a mini fridge but we later found out he'd kept the mini fridge and added it to the new inventory! Then to make matters worse the property we rented in third year was just as bad, if not worse!
So you started StudentView to try and warn others about these dodgy landlords then?
That's one aspect of the site, but we also know there are loads of fantastic and really great landlords and agencies out there so we want to highlight those too! Renting at university can be perilous and mainly it's because there just isn't the information out there to make an informed choice. StudentView wants to change that! We'll have reviews for houses across the UK on the site and we've also got a blog with information about key things to know when you rent so you don't get ripped off!
How far have you got with StudentView then, are you up and running?
Yes! We've got hundreds of reviews and thousands of students have been on the site which is great. We're going to grow fast and we've been doing a lot of web dev this summer to improve the site and create packages which we hope to sell to landlords and estate agents. We want to work with, not against them to help improve the industry and insure that both students and landlords/agencies get a fair deal.
Where do you see StudentView in 10 years time?
I'd love to be a household name, trusted with review like TripAdvisor. I really think there's a need and a gap in the industry for the site and I know that students have a real need for this information so I hope that we'll continue to grow and spread across the UK to help as many students as possible.
Anything cool or exciting we should keep an eye out for?
We'll be heading out to Dublin this November to attend Web Summit 2015, Europe's largest tech start up conference and we're one of 2,000 start ups exhibiting. It's really exciting as we'll be joined by around 30,000 attendees and speakers from top tech firms like Google, Stripe and Facebook! Keep your eyes peeled because hopefully we'll be getting some big investment there and be the disruptive start up we're already known to be!