GrowPro is a fast-paced start-up that has accompanied more than 15,000 young people to international destinations since 2013. In 2022 they have closed the year with a revenue of over 20 million euros.
In their mission to make the process as easy as possible for their students; GrowPro turned to Parallel to streamline the visa management process and make it more intuitive. This has resulted in a 40% acceleration of the start of the process, improving the students' overall experience by eliminating unnecessary hassle and allowing them to focus on their upcoming adventure.
Grow Pro was founded 10 years ago by two entrepreneurs from Valencia (Spain) that set off to Melbourne, Australia, in search of a new adventure. After some time there, they realized that traditional agencies often disappear once the student lands. They knew the difficulties involved firsthand, so they created Grow Pro to ensure that no other student would ever be alone again.
Since then, Grow Pro has grown to become a reference support platform that helps young people around the globe seeking to study and work in a foreign country, both before their trip and throughout their stay.
It currently provides services in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Malta, and Ireland. It has a rapidly expanding team, with 15 offices located across 6 countries on 3 continents.
GrowPro is all about giving the student the best experience. Not only in their destination but also in all the preparation required to start their new life abroad.
However, organizing a long stay in a foreign country requires a lot of paperwork and procedures that must be completed before departure. One of the most tedious and bureaucratic processes students must complete is the visa application.
Until six months ago, GrowPro’s visa agents relied on a manual and time-consuming process to gather all the information required by immigration according to each country’s requirements.
Since it is a highly regulated and formal procedure, they started with a very long email with:
Because of its complexity, it entailed multiple back-and-forth emails with students’ doubts and clarifications on which questions were applicable. A variety of attachments were also sent and received, which cluttered the agent's email inbox. Additionally, the Booking Agents, who are the main point of contact for students in GrowPro, often acted as intermediaries with the visa agents, which made them waste a lot of time and further lengthened the process.
Belén, Operations Analyst at GrowPro, estimated that visa agents exchanged an average of between 50 and 80 emails with the student (plus all the doubts they had to solve through the Booking Agent), and each visa agent could handle up to 45 applications simultaneously.
“No matter how hard we tried to prepare a detailed checklist, we never got the right information the first time. It would arrive scattered in different ways and incomplete. It didn’t give visibility to anyone; the process was very difficult to follow. It reached a point where no one knew what they had sent, what they had received, or how the process was progressing. The agent was chasing the student, and the student was chasing the agent.” – Belén Cibeyra, Operations Analyst
Likewise, students were also frustrated by the length of the process and the amount of information required. Often, they would not even know where to find it.
Collecting all the right information for the visa application could take from 3 weeks to a month and a half. This was not the digital and easy experience GrowPro wanted to offer.
In addition, the rapid growth of GrowPro made it clear that the visa application process, which was part of the onboarding process for new students, needed to be scalable.
“The goal was to find a tool that would allow us to transform visa management into a scalable process, since we were growing more than ever after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. In fact, in July 2022, we tripled the sales level that were at this same time in 2021, which meant many more students to manage.” – Borja Marín, Operations Director.
The GrowPro Operations Team began searching for technology that could help the visa team improve their efficiency and the experience of students.
“The visa process had always been a challenge for GrowPro. We refused to believe this was the only way to manage this process, even though it was the way things had always been done.” – Belén Cibeyra, Operations Analyst
GrowPro had considered solving the process with simple forms, like the ones in their CRM. Yet it produced partial solutions. Although the students’ experience could have been slightly improved, it did not solve any of the teams’ internal operations problems.
What made Belén look into Parallel was that it had two elements in one. This system included a client portal where students could share any relevant data, as well as a control dashboard for the back-office, where all information was synchronized in real time. In essence, everyone involved could work together simultaneously.
With Parallel's support, Belén began to create templates. The tool's easy-to-use conditional logic and variety of fields allowed her to include all possible personal cases in simple forms for clients to complete.
Then, Belén introduced the tool to the organization’s main stakeholders and future users by gradually sending them forms. When the team at GrowPro experienced the ease and comfort with which they completed and followed the process, they had no doubt that it was the experience they wanted to give their students.
Having seen this, it was also key to show them how simple it would be for them to track and review all visa applications, automating the most repetitive tasks (such as follow-ups).
A pilot test was quickly set up with some visa agents in Canada. Clients loved it, and agents were delighted with the control dashboard that gave them incredible agility to manage all ongoing visa applications in a centralized workspace. These agents became ambassadors for Parallel within GrowPro.
"We tried the first use case, the visa management in Canada, one of the most demanding destinations in terms of the amount of information requested. We had two friends who had chosen this destination. By chance, one started with documents and emails, and a week later, we sent a parallel to the other. When the first one saw how convenient and practical it was, she specifically contacted her Booking Agent, asking him to please manage it through the platform, saving her from the ordeal of having to do it in such an unclear, and difficult way to follow. She said she didn't mind going through the process again if it was through Parallel!" – Borja Marín, Operations Director.
This was the green light to start streamlining the process throughout the whole company. Within 2 months all process templates were incorporated, and all destinations started using it: first Canada and then Australia and New Zealand, more than 20 visa agents around the world.
“Parallel has allowed us to improve internal management without losing sight of the needs of our students, substantially changing and improving the experience when collecting all the information required by immigration and thus facilitating their visa applications.” – Belén Cibeyra, Operations Analyst
Parallel has greatly improved the student experience at GrowPro. When students receive the first email through Parallel, they begin the process promptly, resulting in more than a 40% increase in the speed of the first response.
This allows visa agents to begin working with students sooner, enabling both parties to progress simultaneously and with transparency.
As a result, the implementation of Parallel has transformed the previously bureaucratic and frustrating process for students into a streamlined and straightforward journey.
During the process, visa agents have gone from having to manage endless email chains with scattered attachments to not having to receive or send any mail at all. Everything is now centralized and automated.
Additionally, the ease with which students’ doubts can be answered and all documentation can be reviewed has meant that the visa agents spend much less time on routine tasks and can manage more visa applications in less time. They now manage, on average, 30% more applications each.
With the transformation of this process, GrowPro has gained internal efficiency, increasing the number of opportunities captured without having to be escalated to the team. This has also resulted in higher student satisfaction throughout the process.