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Connecting like-minded university students to reduce isolation and improve student retention at universities.


Georgia Wheadon



EdTech & Wellbeing



Product Product

Startup opportunity

The number one thing students look forward to when starting university is meeting new people and making new friends¹. However, recent reports show that 49% of UK students often feel lonely and socially isolated and 26% consider dropping out as a result of this².

This is not only catastrophic to the higher education economy and the regions those institutions support – each student drop-out costs a university up to £27,750, or as much as £300,000 per international student – but also leaves a long-term effect on the lives of those individuals.

Umii founder, Georgia Wheadon, was a student who felt isolated and lonely during her time at university. During her studies she researched the methods universities were using to support students to make friends and the importance of social integration for student success.

After initial discussions with universities it became clear that student isolation and drop outs as a result of this was a significant and growing problem for universities. With 165 universities and higher education institutions in the UK, and over 20,000 worldwide experiencing similar challenges we were confident this was a significant problem that we could support Georgia to solve.


Since Co-founding with Nova

  • Umii has 12 Universities in the UK paying for and using the app to improve student retention and wellbeing.
  • Over 20,000 students have signed up to the Umii app.
  • Umii initiated over 170,000 messages between university students.
  • 68% of student users say Umii helped them feel less lonely.
  • 62% of student users believe Umii has helped them to make friends.
  • Georgia and Umii have been featured in various news articles such as Telegraph (paywall), Startups Magazine, Further Education, Metro & Prolific North
  • Umii won app of the year in the Prolific North Tech Awards 2021

We started with extensive customer and user discovery sessions to understand the needs, requirements and challenges they faced with the existing alternatives that we’re being used. These insights shaped our product development and go to market strategy, allowing us to prioritise what features, functionality and messaging needed to be used to satisfy the biggest pain points of both the students (users) and the buyers (universities).

We created the MVP and ran a soft launch in one university, working closely with a user group made up of students and university staff allowed us to understand the and move through several rounds of iteration and improvements quickly. Throughout 2020 we were able secure several sales into UK universities and bring Georgia into the startup as a full-time founder. Since then there have been further sales, awards, media coverage and the hire of her first full-time employee to support their continued growth.


Georgia Wheadon

I’m really glad I partnered with Nova to create Umii, I truly couldn’t have achieved what we have without their support. As a solo founder, and someone quite new to the startup world, their support has been invaluable. Not only with product development, but the marketing, finance and business development functions have all played a huge part in getting Umii to where it is today.

Georgia Wheadon, founder of Umii


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