It takes a lot of courage to move to a new country. Migrants must deal with a language barrier, navigate complex social services organisations and systems that are hard for even locals to understand, and try to gauge and fit in with unfamiliar cultural practices. Despite the wealth of information available on the internet these days, the process of settling in a new country is still as hard as it ever was for many people.
Emran Alam and Louis Amon have come up with a solution, Simple Settler. The platform looks to be a one stop hub for new migrants, connecting them to the kind of information and services that, while basic, can be difficult to access when moving to a new country. Simple Settler curates information about things such as accommodation, financial services, public transport, and immigration services, all displayed according to city.
As Alam explained, the aim of the platform is simply to help create a seamless transition for new settlers to their new home.
The cofounders both arrived in Australia seven years ago as international students, meeting while studying at Macquarie University. The pair saw they – and their family and friends – had had similar experiences in coming to Australia and figured they could do something to make the process easier.
“It was our individual challenges around finding basic information, advice on services, local guides and the ridiculous amounts of money we spent on legal fees that first prompted our thinking. It soon became evident that our stories were just two of what could happen to thousands of migrants each and every day,” Alam explained.
“Our mission was simple: help remove the excess baggage that comes with moving to a new place and connect new dwellers with necessary information to help make settling as simple as possible.”
The platform features content, such as lists covering ‘where to find the best coffee in your city’, ‘which bank account should I sign up with?’, ‘10 ways to survive the Australian winter’, and ‘family-friendly suburbs in X city’ – easily digestible information with links to other resources that readers can explore. It currently covers Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Canberra.
Alam said that through their own experiences and, he and Amon were easily able to pinpoint the focus areas for the platform.
“With so much information on the internet it is difficult to provide tailored content catering to every individual living in a city, for example tips on how to get a job after graduation would be more relevant for a student, rather than someone with a working visa. However, we recognise that as the persona of the ‘migrant’ changes everyday, the content will also need to be refreshed to reflect that,” Alam said.
The other, perhaps most important, component of the platform is connecting users to either employment or immigration agents, a feature Alam said has been the most popular by far.
The platform asks for a few basic pieces of information about what the user needs, such as what kind of visa if they are looking for help with immigration, for example, and how many people they need a visa for. Simple Settler will then assess the application and connect the user with a suitable agent.
Though Alam said monetising the platform isn’t a key concern in these early days, it’s obvious that its here monetisation could come into play – agents paying Simple Settler for leads, for example, while other services can also be added, from real estate agents to electricity or energy companies, financial services providers and so on, creating a directory of sorts for the kinds of services that are mentioned in its content.
“At Simple Settler purpose and values are very important to us. When partnering with different agencies it was crucial their purpose and values were clear and aligned to our thinking,” Alam said.
The startup’s target audience at the moment is international students and those who are in Australia on working visas, the audience the cofounders currently understand best thanks to their own experiences. To reach this audience Alam said they will be looking to partner locally and internationally with educational institutions, migration firms, and government organisations.
Equipping newcomers to Australia with the right tools to help them settle in was also at the heart of the Techfugees hackathons held in Sydney and Melbourne over the last year. The Sydney event last November saw participants come up with a range of solutions, from a service connecting businesses with skills shortages to skilled refugees, an app providing users with instant translations of documents, and OurTable, which looks to bring refugees together to share a meal.
Acknowledging the range of services needed by new migrants, Simple Settler is focused on expanding its range and growing to help different audiences through new partnerships and the coverage of other cities and towns.
Image: Louis Amon and Emran Alam. Source: Supplied.