Paul Gauci - StudentBuddy.co.uk
Coming into his third year of studying Business Management at Cardiff University, and after an all too common traumatic experience with student housing in his second year, Paul Gauci decided a bit more thought may be needed to choose his next year’s accommodation. Whilst living in his house on Rhymney Street, dodging the slugs crawling through cracks in the ceilings, he began to research Cardiff letting agencies and landlords. With no real insight into properties available, Paul began to develop Student Buddy.
Paul describes Student Buddy as, “A website for students to access, helping them to find the best places to live in the student areas of Cardiff. It includes details of landlords and letting agencies and the ratings that previous student customers give; how well they were treated, the condition of the properties, etc.”
Despite having a great idea with a lot of potential, the complexity of the project proved to be a problem at first. Paul, not unlike many students, was maxed out on his overdraft. With no funding or savings, he sought help from Student Enterprise, and was able to secure £1,000 through an Enterprise Bursary supported by Santander.
This funding was highly beneficial, yet Paul still has regrets as to how it was spent. “I tried to cut corners to design and develop the site myself with the funding”, he explains. “I basically ended up wasting £500 - there’s no way I could complete it with the complexity that I wanted”.
Learning from his mistake, Paul researched into web designers and came across a fellow graduate business that offered him some much needed friendly advice. “The guys at Blue Stag Studios were really helpful and, being fellow graduate entrepreneurs, they offered me great deals as they knew the financial difficulties of starting up your own business”, Paul says. “My biggest personal success would have to be the first demo of the website. After a year of researching and wondering how I’m going to conquer this great idea, it is finally coming together”.
Paul and Student Buddy have also been supported by the Venture Wales Graduate Start-Up Support Programme, and Paul regularly seeks advice from an experienced mentor. “As a business advisor, he has helped with my financial side and advice on the next steps. It’s great to have someone else’s perspective on your idea”, Paul explains. “IGNITE was also a great support. I’d recommend it to anyone, regardless of them starting a business or not. It helped me gain confidence within business and it really inspired me to push my ideas.”
Find out more at: www.StudentBuddy.co.uk