GSA graduate is disrupting architecture with a tech-led approach

Economic Transformation in our Nation

Universities have a strong culture of delivery which aligns closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. We’ve curated a set of 19 stories to show how universities support people, businesses, industries and Scotland’s regions towards economic transformation.

Start-up success for GSA graduate

Danny Campbell, architecture graduate from The Glasgow School of Art, is disrupting the world of residential architecture with his company HOKO. Danny has reinvented the typical practice model for architects, making home extensions, renovations and new build projects far more transparent and accessible for ordinary people. His focus has been on the client journey, demystifying the process and use to tech to significantly increase project productivity, allowing HOKO to reach far more clients with high levels of satisfaction.

Danny has won multiple awards including the Great British Entrepreneur’s Awards, Scottish Edge Awards and Orega to name a few. HOKO now employs over 20 staff and has received over £750,000 of investment, including their recent crowdfunding raise which over 260 people invested in. HOKO is striving to become the market leader in residential architecture and has already seen over a 1000% client acquisition growth since they launched.

Reflecting on his time at the GSA, Danny felt that the crit process was really valuable to him and helped him prepare for his career as an entrepreneur, which requires serious determination, the ability to handle a steep learning curve and deal with rejection. He says:

“It is the nightmare scenario for anyone with imposter syndrome – you stand there in front of your peers and tutors with work that has been changed up until the night before, sometimes hours before, but it teaches you how to take rejection, tackle opposing opinions and sell your ideas.”

HOKO’s unique approach comes down to the client-focused use of technology and communication. Virtual Reality (VR) is an integral part of the design stage as clients can see how the finished project will look at a very early stage. This is one of the best ways to ensure homeowners are happy. Danny says:

“Seeing is believing. By walking clients through these design options using VR, we have a better chance of discovering a really special use of space and clients can be safe in the knowledge that they are happy with their project’s direction before they commit. Good design will save money and time in the long term.”

Danny feels the creative environment at The Glasgow School of Art is a good foundation for other aspiring entrepreneurs.  The School also provides a range of support for students and graduates including bringing valuable real-world experience back from graduates, such as Danny, through its Working Space digital series of professional and creative practice networking events. These early evening talks bring together students, graduates, industry experts and employers to explore a range of career and professional development themes.

When asked what advice he would give a graduate looking to set up a business, Danny says:

“Do you take no for an answer easily? You’ll need serious determination to get through the initial learning curve and faith in your business idea. Are you self-motivated? If you need pushing to complete tasks, then starting a business is not for you. You’ll have a track record of this quality if it’s in you – fortunately this comes hand in hand with being a GSA student. Lastly, what is your purpose? Is there something you feel so passionately about that you would do it for free? Once you apply your purpose to a business problem, you’ll be able to manage the learning curve and rejections.”

Key Points:

National Strategy for Economic Transformation theme: Entrepreneurial people & culture and new market opportunities.

Institution: Glasgow School of Art

Location: Glasgow

  • Since the launch of HOKO in 2019, the company has secured £750,000 of investment from a group of investors.
  • HOKO has grown from a team of eight to 20 since its start-up.