Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Student entrepreneurs open up air travel


Upon completing their exams most university students look forward to home but some struggle to put together the money to travel. Two students from the University of Cape Town introduced a groundbreaking business idea that has made travel cheaper and more convenient for students across the country.

Ndabenhle Ntshangase and Lwanda Shabalala founded AirStudent for students studying outside their home provinces, which enables the students to travel in groups to get more affordable and competitive travel fares by plane or bus.

When a student decides to travel home, they fill out a form on the AirStudent website and the AirStudent team helps them find the most competitive price to reach home. Between 700 and 800 students have used their service since its inception in 2017.

“Seeing as we are both from KwaZulu-Natal but study at the University of Cape Town (UCT), this meant that we were always travelling between Cape Town and home at the end of each term, which became very costly. In certain years we would only go back home at the end of the year due to the high costs of travelling. Ndabenhle then had the brilliant idea to use the principles of bulk-buying to organise students into groups and leverage off of their numbers to get discounts and better deals,” said Shabalala.

The website also offers students additional benefits that spoke directly to the issues of students, for example, the problem of overweight luggage at airports. Other universities have heard and used AirStudent include the University of Pretoria and North-West University.

“Because students spend months away from home, many students tend to travel with a lot of their belongings. This means that on top of the already expensive tickets, they also pay huge penalties for having overweight luggage. Not only did we look to take care of the issue of expensive tickets but we wanted to offer a comprehensive service,” said Shabalala.

“We have an affiliate network that looks to help grow our network by compensating the students that help grow our community by inviting their friends. We also have our peer-to-peer rideshare network that affords students with cars the opportunity to drive our groups to and from the airport for some extra cash,” added Shabalala.

The young men will be representing the Western Cape at the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) inter-varsity competition from November 26 to November 27 for their four-year success.

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