Making NZ more affordable for international students
Startup: Tambook making New Zealand more affordable for international students
“Making studying English abroad an affordable adventure”. This is the mission of the New Zealand startup, Tambook Limited.
While New Zealand is competing for international students with countries like USA, Canada and Great Britain, we should be giving students an opportunity to book a course at an honest price and as effortlessly as possible, so that more of them get to experience beautiful and friendly Aotearoa. Three years ago, Dmitry Belevich, one of Tambook’s founders decided to make studying abroad more affordable and today students can type in www.tambook.com to compare and book English courses directly from over 50 schools in New Zealand and Australia.
Before Tambook, students had to spend hours searching through different websites to compare prices, and many of these sites were in English (the language they were yet to learn!) That’s how Tambook founders had their Eureka moment: “There just has to be a website, like for flights or hotels, where I’d find all the courses, compare prices, then book”. But it takes true entrepreneurs to turn an idea into a project and that’s what the founders of Tambook did.
In 2009 Dmitry decided to leave Russia’s long winters in favor of New Zealand’s milder climate. The following year he opened the educational agency Kiwi-zone in Auckland, which became a market leader in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine within its first year. Since Dmitry personally experienced being a student in New Zealand, he was able to design his business around student needs. Over time, his business evolved as Dmitry worked with language schools, had conversations with their founders and talked to students in order to get a clearer picture of the ideal study abroad program, from start to finish. Two big issues came up during his research: cost and organization. Programs were quite expensive, but also took too much time and effort for students to research and organize flights, visas, lodging, etc.
The solution was to pre-select the best language schools, collect their most attractive price offers and display them all on one website for students to compare and choose. To make the service even more all-inclusive, Tambook has added an option of booking homestay accommodation, student insurance and an airport transfer, so for some of the students all that would be left is to book a flight.
While studying the market, Dmitry connected online with Maria Gurova, who was operating a tourist business and happened to be living in Argentina. Maria was open to new ideas and also fully believed that studying English and living abroad is a life-changing experience, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for any person. So after a few emails and Skype calls, Maria and Dmitry decided to embark on this new adventure. In October 2015 Tambook Limited was registered and the story of www.tambook.com began.
The partners soon opened an office in Buenos Aires and welcomed their first students from Argentina, Brazil and Chile to New Zealand. Their programs were partnered with representative agencies in several Latin American countries and this year the company entered a new development stage after a new investor has joined the team.
Today the website and student support are available in 4 languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian, and as a company created by an ex-student to help other language students, Tambook keeps students at its core, welcoming them as team members or interns and aiming to have them involved in the company’s business.
The partnership between New Zealand and Latin America has been both rewarding and practical, as the relationship between the countries has been very friendly and Latin America is one of the fast-growing regions for students studying English abroad with countries like Argentina, Brazil and Chile being visa-waiver countries, meaning that their citizens can stay in New Zealand for up to 3 months without needing a visa. Since 2015 there is even a direct flight from Buenos Aires to Auckland operated by Air New Zealand, which helped triple visitor arrivals from Argentina to New Zealand in 2016. That’s what Tambook does too – makes it easier for students to come to New Zealand and Australia and enjoy everything the countries have to offer: safe and friendly culture, stunning nature, lots of fun activities from surfing to snowboarding, daily English practice, and more affordable courses than in USA or Canada. Studying abroad is not just an adventure of a lifetime, but a sensible investment in education and cultural experience. And for New Zealand this is an important and growing sector
As well as growing, one of Tambook’s goals is to deepen the connections between countries and people. In October, the talented Argentinian artist, Maria de los Milagros Baylac, will arrive to Auckland as Tambook’s ambassador. She will participate in language classes and experience a New Zealand homestay, as well as share her love for art and travel with a number of painting workshops