Dasha Kroshkina, Founder & CEO at StudyFree: Connecting Students with International Education Opportunities

StudyFree is an online platform that connects students with international education opportunities. We help students study abroad for free with the help of grants and scholarships. The platform offers 90,000 programs from bachelor degrees to Ph.Ds with scholarships around the globe. From evaluating the admission chances to choosing the most relevant program according to the student’s academic performance, StudyFree also provides access to exam preparation materials, document samples, a large community of mentors among other resources, therefore digitalizing the whole application process.

Currently, StudyFree has over 34,000 active users, and operates in international markets including the USA, India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. It’s also worth mentioning that our students’ admission success rate is 98%.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The startup idea came from my own personal experience. I have received international education from leading universities on three continents. The first business idea came to my mind when I studied at a business school in China: I realized that I had a lot of experience and knowledge on scholarships and grants, and that many students didn’t know that it was possible to have access to those opportunities abroad.

At first, I just worked as a mentor. During my first year I came to my hometown, a provincial Russian town, and held a small event where I talked about my experience of studying in different countries with scholarships. 4 people came to me straight after the presentation: they had a yearning too but didn’t know where to start. I helped them, and eventually, they all successfully entered Chinese universities with scholarships.

I realized that there was a demand so I created a webpage. Then, thanks to word of mouth, people started coming to it.

On April 25th 2018 we held our first webinar: the applications started to come in, and we began to develop our startup. I believe this is the day StudyFree was truly founded.

I will also highlight that, previously, the international education market was dominated by college-focused greedy companies that used expensive consultants who often did not provide enough value to connect students with the best opportunities. I directed my expertise and passion to make an impact and create the first student-centric scalable product that democratizes the whole international experience for students across the world – a whole new market with approximately 25 million students worldwide.

What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Be fearless. Don’t ever think that you are not enough or that you used expensive consultants who often did not provide enough value to connect students with the best opportunities. You already have what it takes and even more, just don’t be afraid to step up. And, what’s more, be confident enough to be vulnerable and ask for help needed. You are not alone in this world.

What can we hope to see from StudyFree in the future?

You will see an international machine that will be breaking all possible barriers that limit people’s personal development and international growth. We will connect people of all ages and backgrounds with international opportunities abroad, no matter if it’s a 15-year-old student or a professional in their 30s. From degrees, short-term programs, business education, online courses, all the way to volunteering options, we will accumulate all opportunities in one place that used expensive consultants who often did not provide enough value to connect students with the best opportunities.

We will also focus on entering new markets. If there’s a person somewhere on the planet who wants to study abroad or who wants their child to be a top-manager at Tesla with international education in Germany, StudyFree will be the first company that comes to their mind and provides top opportunities to fulfill this ambitious dream.