DISCOV: best match between students and university

Startup communities in the spotlight

In this new series of blogs, Startup Utrecht goes on tour to show you the communities in the Utrecht region startup ecosystem, where startups can grow, learn and flourish. The first community we bring into the spotlight is venture builder Holland Startup. Discov is one of the many startups grown here, want to know more about Holland Startup? Read it here.

The Discov aims to reduce the dropout rate in the Universities by personalizing the process of the marketing tool namely lead generation. We provide study counselling that puts students first, taking into account all of their university desires and providing holistic matchmaking. Through transparent, unbiased and personalized counselling we reduce time pressure, stress and provide a realistic idea of what your university experience will look like. Simply answer a questionnaire and receive a report with the top 3 universities that match you personally. While academics are incredibly important, we believe to succeed in university, you need to enjoy the whole approach.


1. When and why did you start Discov?

About 10 years ago, my co-founder Kasper and I went to international high school together. We were both looking to study abroad after finishing our diploma, but found it to be quite a difficult process and couldn’t find much information beyond the study program and tuition fees at each university. I was lucky that I was able to choose a university and city that completely fitted me - both in and beyond the classroom. But I saw many of my fellow students did not and had a tough time as a result. Some even dropped out or took a very long time to graduate. So I saw this was a huge problem for both students and universities alike.

After finishing our studies, we decided to do something about it. In 2020, The Discov was born. We now help over 400 international students each month to find the university and city of their dreams.



2. What do you do in short (what problem do you solve, for whom and what makes your solution distinctive)?

When choosing a university abroad, the information available to students is either; overwhelming, conflicting or ignores vital factors of the university experience. Applying to a university is so much easier when you know exactly what to expect from your new life. Academically, but importantly also beyond the classroom.

We are a digital study advisor for students looking to study abroad by helping them choose a university that truly matches their needs. We do this through data-driven matchmaking that looks at the academic preferences and background of each student, but also considers their non-academic interests, personality, lifestyle and available budget. This is based on our belief that a successful student also matches their university outside of the classroom. 


3. How many people work at Discov?

Currently The Discov consists of me and my co-founder Kasper Baars as well as our intern Sara Barsoum who is a project lead. While we are only three people officially working, Holland Startup provides us with extensive support, coaching and mentoring to be able to succeed in our goal.


4. Where do you see Discov in 5 years?

We would like to be the leading platform for students and universities all around the world, and close the information gap between prospective students and universities. In achieving this goal, we want to globally highlight the importance of the non academic elements of a university experience to have a successful study. Ultimately, we want to ensure that students have the most fruitful, fun and impactful university experience after which they will go on to leave a positive impact on our society.


5. What advice do you have for other startups to grow?

Make sure you fall in love with the problem you want to solve before you fall in love with your solution. If you truly find a problem worth solving, the motivation that drives you is huge and will make you think of the best possible solution. Another thing I would mention is to track every single thing you do in the form of an experiment, this helps you quantify your learnings and have constant direction, always improving based on your learnings. 


6. What was the key insight of the past year?

To focus on what really matters. There are always a million things to do, but we can only do a fraction of them. Having a clear idea of where we want to go and working our way backwards from there has helped us to prioritise the crucial tasks that lead us to our goals.


7. Where do you go for inspiration? (podcast, books, website)

 We constantly talk to other startups and entrepreneurs, even if you are solving a different problem, often the difficulties startups face are similar. We also read up on a lot of successful entrepreneurs in the world, whether that is a famous musician, a businessman or a Philosopher. More practically speaking, we get a lot of inspiration from, among others, the following authors and speakers: 

  • Seth Godin on marketing and tribes
  • Simon Sinek on leadership
  • Eric Ries on Lean Startup Methodology
  • PIE news on International Education



Want to know more about the Discov and Holland Startup? 

Check here the for the Discov & here for Holland Startup