Richard Ludmer, a 2012 MBA graduate from Webster University Vienna, is one of three business partners working to assist students who are settling into life abroad. The business venture, Feels Like Home, is the brainchild of Ludmer and his two friends, Alexander Karakas and Martin Mössmer.
According to the team, the idea for Feels Like Home came about three years ago when the young entrepreneurs went through the process of setting up their own lives in a different country. From visas to housing, insurance and more, their experiences opened their eyes to the number of different questions international students must address when they go abroad.
Ludmer, a native of Austria, said he chose to study at Webster Vienna because he had a passion for travel and he understood that his future career would likely have an international connection. “The diversity of the student body, the excellent faculty and the small class sizes at Webster were important to me,” he said. “I also used the opportunity to go abroad with Webster University, spending a term at Webster’s campus in Bangkok, Thailand. The experience was fantastic for me, and it’s my hope that every Webster student makes use of this unique chance to study at campuses within Webster’s worldwide network.”
From Idea to Creation
The idea for Feels Like Home began when the team started giving personal, face-to-face advice to friends who were settling into life abroad. Recognizing the potential of their idea, the team developed a business plan to create an online relocation tool and worked to secure funding through a grant. “We presented our idea to a panel of judges, similar to the format of the TV show ‘Shark Tank’,” Karakas explained. “The panel liked the population we served and awarded us the grant.”
Thanks to the funding, the team was able to create a prototype and eventually launch their complete online relocation platform that guides international students through the process. Coined the “Step-by-Step Guide” at feelslikehome.at, this tool gives students who create an account access to personalized information about Vienna before leaving their home countries. In addition to the option of preordering a starter package full of necessities that the team will deliver to their new place, students have access to special offers on dining and entertainment through the team’s robust partnership network. The other aspect of the company is a social component. From organizing ski trips to city tours, cocktail nights and more, the team at Feels Like Home is helping students make connections in their new home.
Today, the website generates traffic from more than 125 countries, and this number continues to rise.
Feels Like Home is headquartered on the campus of Webster Vienna. As a result, Webster University students represent Feels Like Home’s core business.
“We help students every day,” said Karakas. “We appreciate the support we have received from Campus Director Dr. Arthur Hirsh. Without him, we would not be able to operate on the same level that we are on right now!”
Vienna is an excellent home base for the business because the city boasts a large pool of nearly 50,000 international students. Despite this, the team has plans to expand its services to other European countries. “Our goal is to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for students, and the potential is there for us to grow our business,” Karakas said.
While the innovative approach of Feels Like Home is helping students ease into their study abroad experience, only time will tell what’s next for this Webster University based start-up.