A very warm welcome to “Archipreneur Insights”, the interview series with the architectural, design and building community’s movers and shakers. In this series we get to grips with their opinions, thoughts and practical solutions and learn how to apply their ideas to our own creative work for success in the field of architecture and beyond.
The founding team started their first Internet platform in 1999. Since then, their architecture & design network has consistently grown and expanded. Their newest company, archilovers.com, is a social network for architects and designers worldwide, with over 900,000 registered users.
I hope you enjoy the interview!
Please tell us a little bit about your international architecture & design network. What services do you provide for the creative community?
We have a mission: to use the internet as a medium to connect people, projects, and products in the Architecture and Design field. Our aim is to improve efficiency and productivity in all design and construction processes.
We created a network of four web portals: archiproducts.com, archilovers.com, edilportale.com, and archiportale.com. They make up an active platform where leaders of the construction sector – architects, businesses, manufacturers, service companies, and customers – interact in a really stimulating way.
Our business model is based upon “leads”, qualified contacts which represent a link between the offer and demand of products and services, between architects and manufacturers, companies and architects, businesses and manufacturers. We strive to create contacts that spark the right business opportunities.
What made you decide to become an Internet entrepreneur and start archilovers.com and your other websites? Was there a particular moment that sealed the decision for you?
Standard answer: we felt a real lack of communication and information in the building sector between 1995-2000. This became the turning point for us to create a single, trusted source of information geared towards architects. It was to be a resource for information (specifically building regulations) where you could also buy and sell architectural products.
Actual answer: the endeavor came from the need, back in 2000, to find a buyer for an antique floor made of traditional Apulian stone from one of our houses that was being demolished. We couldn’t find a proper place to post the ad, so we decided to create one ourselves. For the record, that floor is now installed on the terrace of my summer home!
How has your architectural training helped you in the actual running of your business? What specific/transferable skills have proved the most useful?
Thanks to all of our planning and building experience, we were able to create a web platform which implemented the language typically used by architects (our main target). It was a portal by architects, for architects. Furthermore, our engineering background allowed us to approach the creation of the start-up and ensuing business organization from a technical vantage point.
Creativity is a necessary quality if you want to start a business, but a certain degree of technical knowledge is also crucial. A company must have solid foundations, follow clear and straightforward procedures, be flexible and likeable, and have the ability to reinvent itself at a moment’s notice.
Very often we develop our services and new business areas as if we were planning a building.
Do you have any tips for architects & designers who want to build or expand a business online?
In my opinion, it is becoming increasingly difficult to create a relevant community because the bar for evaluating new projects is becoming increasingly high, so big investments are becoming a must. If you don’t have a huge budget, at least try to come up with a simple, yet groundbreaking idea that you’re sure will take off!
The architecture and design field is still in need of radical innovation, so there’s definitely room for creation and improvements.
How do you see the future of architecture? In which areas (outside of traditional practice) can you see major opportunities for up and coming architects?
I’m especially fascinated by augmented reality and think there’s still so much that can be done with it.
When utilised in the planning process together with BIM files, it has the potential to exponentially maximize the efficiency and control of a project. It also facilitates communication between the client and architect.
Enzo was born in 1972 in Puglia (Southern Italy). He earned a degree in Building Engineering in Bari and in 1999, achieved a Master of Science in Construction Management in Coventry (UK).
He worked for one year as a Construction Site Manager and Executive Designer at Pizzarotti, one of the most noteworthy General Contacting companies in Italy. He co-founded the Archipassport.com Network, of which he is currently the Chief Design Officer, Marketing Manager, Executive ‘Architecture and Design’ Editor, and Business Developer.
He is passionate about the sea, architecture and design, and is the author of numerous projects including the headquarters of the Archipassport Network and other stunning residences overlooking the beautiful coast of Puglia.