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StudentUniverse logo.png
Type Private
Founded 2000 (2000)
Headquarters Waltham, Massachusetts, MA, USA
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Espen Odegard
Key people Atle Skalleberg
Industry Travel, Internet
Revenue Private
Registration Optional

StudentUniverse is a technology company that provides students with deals, primarily focusing on air fares and lodging. It is one of the two largest discount student travel sellers in the world.[1] Its service went live in 2000,[2] and the company is based in Waltham, Massachusetts.[1] It has proprietary verification technology that allows it to verify student status.[1]

Website[edit] is a student deals website that focuses on college students. The site offers airfare tickets, hotel and hostel bookings, travel insurance, and other travel products. According the terms and conditions users have to be students at a degree granting college to redeem offers. The primary focus of the website is B2C (Business to Consumer), however it also offers group travel services for groups of 12 or more people. Users can search for deals without logging in, however must create an account prior to purchasing. The business and website is rated by the Better Business Bureau.

Business Model[edit]

StudentUniverse connects students with offers from companies. It makes money from commission, advertising sales and booking fees on some transactions. The company has up until 2011 focused primarily on the student travel vertical. It sells exclusive airfare deals for verified members from its airline partners. Such airfares are not guaranteed to be cheaper than the retail airfares (what is generally available in the market). The company does not charge for membership.

By verifying their members' enrollment at an accredited, degree-granting college, the company is able to offer students discounted products and services. The company's value proposition is to offer student discounts,[3] and flexibility,[4] with an average discount over published rates, based on a sample survey, of 14%.

The company offers 24/7 customer service in English.


1992: Founded by Espen Ødegård as a student travel agency called Prism Travel with offices in New York City.

1999: is founded by Espen Odegard and Fredrik Carl Stormer and raises its first round of funding from private investors.

2000: First online booking engine launched.

2001: American Airlines becomes an airline partner and offer student airfares

2004: StudentUniverse introduces its new marketing tag-line; "Students Fly Cheaper". Marketing campaigns were targeted at U.S. college students.

2008: StudentUniverse introduces its new marketing tag-line; "Travel more.Spend less" and launches a redesigned website.

2010: The firm announced a discount airfare service open to any traveler ages 18–25.[5]

2011: StudentUniverse launches SUMM - a marketing agency that specializes in marketing to students.

2011: The company launches a new website and a new tag-line; "Smart deals for students". The corporate blog also goes live in September.

2011: The company announces Paul Tedeschi as its new General Manager of SUMM [6]

2011: The company announces Mike Cleary as its new Chief Commercial Officer[7]

2011: The website reflects that it will expand its offering to categories beyond travel - student deals.

2012: Announces Atle Skalleberg as its new CEO on March 1, 2012 [3]

2012: StudentUniverse Media re-launches as SUMM Agency - a full service media and marketing agency that specializes in college marketing.

2012: April: A new "Student Deals" section is revealed. Student Deals

2012: April: "Student Deals" is officially launched. Press Release 4/9/12

2012: August: Textbook service is launched. Allows students to compare textbook prices. Textbook Service

2012: December: The company announces travel tours, StudentUniverse Tours

2013: October: Company announces its revamped iOS application StudentUniverse Mobile App

2013: October: Company announces its UK business and website StudentUniverse UK

2013: November: StudentUniverse acquires the travel startup WeHostels


StudentUniverse has over 65 major airline partners. The company also works closely with ITA Software (Google) and utilizes their QPX technology.[8] has integrated their negotiated student airfares.[9]


Key members of the StudentUniverse team [10] include: Espen Odegard - Founder, Sam Lanfranco - Founding Partner,[11] Atle Skalleberg - Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Cox - Chief Financial Officer, Mike Cleary - Chief Commercial Officer, Chad Mooney - Vice President, Operations


StudentUniverse focuses primarily on the college student market in the United States. There are 4,495 colleges, universities, and junior colleges in the country and 17.5 million college students.[12]

Gen Y (born 1977-1994) is now estimated to be the largest consumer group in US history. At 70 to 80 million, the generation accounts for 25% of the US population. Their annual spending power already exceeds $200B and that is expected to eclipse Boomers by 2017.[13]



  1. ^ a b c McCartney, Scott (October 14, 2008). "Flying to College on the Cheap". The Wall Street Journal. 
  2. ^ Lipman, Lisa (December 15, 2000). "Students can fly for less online - maybe". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  3. ^ "Site helps college students travel on limited budget, members can save $100 by booking overseas trips at Student Universe". San Jose Mercury News (CA). November 24, 2002. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  4. ^ Gilden, James (April 3, 2005). "Students: Do your homework to get European summer deals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  5. ^ " Celebrates 10th Anniversary and Airfare Discounts for Expanded Age Group". PR Newswire. January 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ SUMM - College Marketing
  7. ^ Mike Cleary as Chief Commercial Officer
  8. ^ ITA/StudentUniverse Case Study
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ The StudentUniverse Team
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Education in America
  13. ^ McKinsey Report - Affluent Gen Y

External links[edit]