Venturing out to study, intern or work abroad is something OCM highly recommends – not only is it an incredible way to broaden your horizons and immerse yourself into another culture, but it also looks great on your resume. However, we are aware of the challenges that living abroad can present, like finding affordable and safe housing. For a long time, you weren’t left with many options or resources to find the perfect place abroad. Outside of some potentially sketchy Craigslist posts or word of mouth, it’s hard to safely secure housing without being in the country first!
Ezkie Changes the Way Students Travel, Live and Connect Abroad
Our Student Spotlight for June is Ezkie, a company that fills this international housing void by matching students worldwide with apartments. Ezkie (read: “easy key”) was started by UCLA student Anais Tadlaoui, who personally and repeatedly experienced the struggle of finding housing, having lived in seven different cities.
Ezkie aims to foster cultural, social, and intellectual relationships across the globe by changing the way university students and young professionals travel, live and connect abroad. Ezkie seeks to change the housing game and give all young adults the chance to pursue international experiences by building a curated network of universities where students can let their place to each other.
Recognizing a Need in the Market for Safe, Affordable Housing for Students
Anais shared a few anecdotes with us about the struggles she personally faced when moving both domestically and internationally. Having been scammed in New York, homeless in Rio de Janeiro and having to pay an exorbitant price up front to an agency in London, Anais told us, “I figured I either had a housing spell cast on me or there was a much bigger problem out there.” She found that regardless of the platform or method she used to find housing – like traditional landlords and agencies, Airbnb and Craigslist – they all ultimately failed to meet her housing needs.
Having suspected this need in the market for safe, affordable and convenient housing for students, Anais took to her campus to survey others. After interviewing about 100 other students, she found that she wasn’t the only one with apartment horror stories. “I realized how critical the problem was, how big the market was, and the lack of adequate solutions” Anais explained. “And this problem is only going to get worse as more students are seeking out international education and global experiences. So, I decided to put an end to this housing frenzy and make it easy, safe, and convenient to relocate to a new city for a few months.”
Ezkie Gains Traction and Recognition
Anais and her team’s successful efforts to fill the void of safe, affordable international housing have not fallen on deaf ears either. In April of this year, Ezkie was awarded a $10K Courageous Women Entrepreneur Prize from The Rice University Business Plan Competition. Ezkie’s success has also gained its fair share of rightfully earned publicity, with news sources such as Forbes, TechCrunch and Los Angeles Times commending the Ezkie team on their ingenuity and success.
Ezkie Founder Anais Tadlaoui’s Advice on Starting a Business in College
When asked what advice she had for students that hope to start a business, Anais urged that the best time to start is when you’re still in school! “That’s the easiest and best way to find your co-founding team and get access to so many free resources schools offer to foster entrepreneurship on their campuses. It will be so much harder to start a company, when you’re ‘alone in the real world’ with no support system backing you up.” She also shared an incredible list of college resources and benefits for students looking to get their ideas off of the ground:
- Prize money from startup competitions only available to current students
- Exposure to thousands of students and potential customers via the school’s newspaper, announcements before class, student organizations and Greek life partnerships
- Accelerator programs and free office space on campus with free consulting
- Mentors such as professors, tutors and grad students
Through these resources (among many others), Anais urges that colleges can be a great incubator for your next big idea.
As far as what the future holds for Ezkie, Anais explains that they aim to expand internationally. “We are striving to help students with more than just housing. In the future, we plan on offering additional concierge service to help them make the most out of their new city.”
To learn more about Ezkie or find your next home away from home, visit www.ezkie.com.