By Kristy Dorsey

A start-up architecture firm has raised £400,000 in external equity funding as it gets set for an expansion drive amid the Covid-driven downturn across the sector.

HOKO, headed by 29-year-old Danny Campbell, has secured the money from a group of investors led by Warren Gee of Cairngorm Capital, Barclay Gilmour’s Donald Wilson and Graham Campbell of Saracen Fund Managers. The investment will see the Glasgow-headquartered firm’s headcount rise from 11 to 20 by the end of this year.

Set up in April 2019, HOKO has developed a platform that removes administrative burdens from its architects, allowing them to focus on customer service and design. Back-end tasks such as the production of drawings from the architect’s sketches are handled by the firm’s “engine room” of dedicated architectural technicians and engineers, which Mr Campbell said allows the architects to handle up to 10 times more work than would otherwise be the case.

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The funding round was originally meant to have closed in April, but was pushed back by the outbreak of the pandemic. It comes after a report in June by Oxford Economics warned the architectural sector could lose £1 billion because of Covid-19, with widespread job losses.

“This investment will accelerate our ability to scale across the UK,” said Mr Campbell, who retains 85 per cent of the equity going forward. “I now have a team of experienced businesspeople behind me, who can help guide me on this exciting journey.”

HOKO focuses on residential architecture, which Mr Campbell describes as a neglected segment of the market. With live project updates, online drawings and virtual reality, homeowners can see the completed project before building begins.

To date the firm has completed 15 extensions and conversions, and currently has 200 clients on its books with projects at varying stages.

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It is forecasting turnover to quadruple to £400,000 in the current year. HOKO is currently hiring three new architects in Birmingham and Bristol as it expands from its Glasgow base, and will thereafter be looking to markets in England and Ireland.

Mr Gee, who played a leading role in helping to build FNZ into an international financial technology company, said the simplicity and ingenuity of the HOKO process gives offers a “huge opportunity” to scale up in size.

“Using technology at the core of its process, HOKO simplifies the often stressful and costly customer experience of an extension or conversion,” he said.

“What excites me the most about HOKO is that we won’t just help customers, but also create opportunities for architects to build a rewarding career in a sector which is currently struggling.”