Date: 30 May 2012
Entrepreneur Ben is currently working on placement for Experian QAS, a business IT company, and came up with the idea from personal experience.
"The initial thought behind it was when I went to find a house in second year. We were quickly taken round a dozen houses and before we knew it we were putting a £2,000 deposit on a property we didn't really know about."
Ben noticed that due to the constraints of time during term time, he and his fellow students were given little opportunity to find out more about the property and the agent before they were being asked to pay the deposit and first month's rent. The lack of information and the need to make a quick decision created the light bulb moment for Uni Shack - a site which is designed for students to leave reviews and comments on their current property and landlord or letting agent.
Uni Shack hopes to develop a plug in like the one on TripAdvisor and is planning on approaching letting agents to put the plug in on their websites so they can use Uni Shack to browse for a recommended property. Ben hopes the business model will develop by keeping the site free of advertising to avoid bias, and create revenue by using a stream on property sites, much like the plug in TripAdvisor uses.
Ben is already in the process of developing a Uni Shack app for iPhone and Android, and credits his course and staff at BU for helping launch Uni Shack off.
"The business part of my course was really helpful. I am now in the process now of registering my company which entails financial reports, so that side has really helped me out. And all the stuff I learnt on placement has really helped - technical skills for the design and interactivity of websites."
Ben aims to make the site as balanced as possible, in due course planning a landlord facility where landlords can log in and comment on their property, to give the browser both sides of the argument.
"No doubt a student may have a bad experience, but if a landlord says I did x y and z, I think it's good to show both signs of the coin."
Uni Shack is mostly based on Bournemouth rentals at the moment, but once there is more properties on board Ben plans to roll the site out to students across the rest of the UK.