Thursday, June 20, 2024

Interview with’s Gary Piazzon

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This week we had a chat with Gary Piazzon, CEO of student property portal website

Could you tell us a bit more information about and yourself?

Studentopoly is a student property portal start-up, aiming to disrupt the competitive student property market. As a business, our focus is on providing a simpler solution for landlords and students through innovative technology.

My experience comes from working at a FTSE100 insurance company where I have held a number of roles including; recruitment, management, investor relations and developing commercial relationships. I also co-own The Good Sock Company – an ethical sock business.

What inspired you to start your website?

Studentopoly was originally launched in May 2015. I have always had a passion for both property and tech so Studentopoly seemed to be the logical next step. Combining this with bad experiences of student properties whilst at University led me to founding the business. I set up Studentopoly with the aim of reinventing the way students search for properties and helping students avoid bad landlords and houses!

Was there that a-ha moment when you founded the website?

When I originally launched the site, this was with a view to learning more about the market and understanding what landlords and students wanted. At the end of 2015 we recruited our CTO and together we re-imagined the concept for Studentopoly. Once we’d established a focus on innovation and drawn up an ambitious development roadmap, I knew that the site had the potential to challenge the existing property portals.

Are there any WordPress plugins that you would recommend for a newbie?

Although this isn’t a particularly inspired choice, I’d recommend the Google Analytics Dashboard plugin.

I would say that one of the most important things for a new business is to understand the key metrics surrounding their site so that they can make informed decisions. The Google Analytics plugin allows site owners to understand the amount of traffic they’re getting, where this traffic is coming from and what links and pages are being viewed. This is important to assess the success of marketing campaigns and also for on-going optimisation of a website.

What has been you biggest achievements to date?

One of my biggest achievements to date was the launch of Studentopoly in August. Although this is currently a ‘lite’ version of our proposed site, there was a lot of late nights that went into the development and building of our new concept, so to see this go live was a great achievement.

When people first start out online what would you say are the common mistakes people make?

I would say that one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting out online is underestimating how difficult it actually is to build a successful online business.

When launching a website, I believe people often mistake being online with being seen. It is important to have a detailed marketing plan in place before launching to detail how you are going to drive relevant traffic to your website.

What website/illustration software did you use and why?

I am a big fan of both Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks. Both of these programmes, although expensive, provide all of the tools you could possibly need for all of your design needs. When we re-launched Studentopoly, we’d designed the site using these two programmes, and worked closely with an offshore IT company to convert these designs into a live site.

What online trends should we keep an eye on?

One of the things I have been very interested in is machine learning.

The concept of a system ‘getting to know you’ and thereby being able to provide a better service, I think is going to become a major trend.

A great example of this is the Amazon Echo, a virtual assistant who is ‘always listening’. I think this area will continue to grow and smarter solutions will continue to be developed.

How would you encourage more readership and loyalty on a blog?

Once you’ve started to build a loyal core of followers, I would recommend reaching out to them to understand what is important to them. This will allow you to keep your readers engaged. I would however caution from straying from your USP. What makes your blog unique? You should always keep this question in mind when writing new content.

What resources would you recommend for a newbie to visit?

I would recommend that when setting up a new online business, you should spend a lot of time getting to know your market. Understand what your competitors are doing, what has worked well for them and what has not. You can use this knowledge to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes.

There are also many useful reports and blogs that can help you along the path to success. I would caution that you shouldn’t take everything you read as gospel.

Running a business can involve a lot of trial and error as you work out what your customers respond best to. One thing I would say is don’t be afraid to fail.

Boost News Desk
Boost News Desk
Robert Haylor has 14 years of web development experience, starting out as a web developer whilst still in his university dorm room at Birmingham City University. With a background and a strong interest in website design & development he is skilled in a variety of programming languages including PHP, MySQL, CSS3 and HTML5. As Managing Director of Boost Digital Media, he regularly jumps on to client projects on a daily basis as well as ensuring the company strategy is being implemented and is delivering results.

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