Enrolling in post-secondary is a big step for any student. When you add finding a place to live after selecting all your courses, it can become very overwhelming. Kevin Mpunga and Jean Bruce Koua were two students who both faced the personal frustration of finding a place to call home. They found that the tools available for students to find housing was not adequate, especially for international students. Enter Elev. Whether you’re coming from out of country or moving out from mom and dad’s, Elev is a platform that provides a stress-free renting experience to both students and their hosts. Based on your school, budget, and preferences, Elev matches you with the best home available and provides access to easy features such as automatic rent payments, maintenance requests, and more. Hear more about Kevin and Jean Bruce’s entrepreneurial journey while navigating student life.
Tell us in one sentence – who are you, and how does your company innovate?
We are the co-founders of Elev and we are taking the hassle out of student housing by streamlining the entire renting experience, from searching to living off campus.
What is unique about your business?
Elev is built through the lens of students and hosts willing to accommodate students. We are removing the stress out of living and renting off campus by matching students to the ready host. That way students can focus on what matters most to their future while providing hosts a guarantee on their income and their property.
At what point did you identify or realize the problem that your company currently solves?
When we shifted our perspective from building a solution based on assumptions to validating those assumptions prior to building a solution. By listening to comments, feedback, and reading countless support emails, we were able to have our users at the center of the product journey. This saved us a lot of time and helped us gain a better understanding of the customer’s pain points.
The problem we are solving is personal to us; Every one of our co-founders went through the stressful, frustrating and exhausting process of trying to find a place to live. We’ve known this was a problem because we lived it.
What inspired you to become a problem-solver and start your business?
Personal experience. All three of us were students, and have gone through the challenge of finding housing off campus. Whether it be, Jean Bruce and Kwasi immigrating from various parts of Africa to Canada, or Kevin moving from a different city to Edmonton, the experience was similar when it came to finding a place to stay: painful, stressful and EXPENSIVE. After multiple conversations with others in our community, it was only a matter of time until we decided to come together and do something about it. And we are doing it with Elev!
What are you most proud of?
We are proud to have built a product that Students and Hosts say has been very helpful in their journey.
Share some key milestones/updates on your startup within the last year.
This year was a busy one. We have assisted over a thousand students in their search for housing off-campus, of which the number of successful matches exponentially grew compared to last year. Our annualized booking value has more than 20x’ed and we are seeing more engagement with the platform on both ends of the spectrum. One key milestone is that we are on the way to become the major source of housing off campus for students here in Edmonton and cannot wait to help students find their next home, away from home.
Edmonton has a unique opportunity, both locally and globally. The potential is limitless! What does it mean to you to contribute to Edmonton’s innovation identity, and help position our city as an inclusive global innovation capital?
It’s an honor for us to be a part of this next wave of innovation, especially with Edmonton being able to provide opportunities both locally and globally. At Elev, we are putting students and hosts first, by bringing all the tools they would need to have a stress-free living experience during their academic and professional journey, respectively. We see many synergies with the opportunities Edmonton has to offer and are excited to contribute to Edmonton’s innovation identity.
How does Edmonton Unlimited resonate with you? What does this mean to you?
The sky’s the limit and we are only getting started!
Why is Edmonton the place to take your ideas to the next level? What made you decide to establish yourself here?
New grounds means new opportunities. Edmonton has a young and vibrant community that is welcoming of innovative change. The more we interacted with the community, the more we realized Elev had the potential to make a huge difference for the better. Edmonton is setting the stage for something special and we are excited to revolutionize student living in the process.
How have you been involved with Edmonton Unlimited? How have they helped your company/idea grow?
We have had the opportunity to participate in various accelerator programs such as the Student Founders Program and Propel, where we were able to take our idea from scratch and turn into a product that students and hosts are currently using. The team at Edmonton Unlimited has been very helpful in helping us validate our assumptions, introducing us to leaders in the industry, and raising awareness about our services. We will forever be grateful for their help!
How can people get involved or support your business?
If you are a student looking for your next Home, or a Host looking for your next tenant, visit us at elevhomes.ca. Otherwise, join us, by following us on all social media @elevhomes, on our mission to revolutionize student living.
What advice would you give someone trying to become an entrepreneur or looking to solve a problem?
Almost all answers to your most difficult questions, puzzling challenges and toughest decisions will come from the same people: your customers. So, go talk to them!
What can we look forward to from your company?
We will be rolling out some major new offerings both for our Students and our Hosts this fall and taking on several new cities in the coming months! Follow us on our journey as we make renting a stress-free experience for students all over the country!