Harry Cobbold, Managing Director at Haio, won the coveted FutureSPARK award at this year’s SPARKies.

This award is to celebrate the under 25-year-old who has already demonstrated true commitment and initiative within the tech and digital community and who the judges believe will go far in the industry.

Harry’s most noticeable entrepreneurial achievement is his success in establishing Haio – a full-service design consultancy which specialises in designing and building websites, brands and digital products for high growth companies.

His passion and belief in the company shines through in his discussion about it. Harry explains to us, “We have a particular focus on user-centred design and user experience (UX), solving business problems through the power of design.”

Starting with a spark

Harry has always been a businessman at heart. He tells us about how the entrepreneur scene at the University of Bath fostered his ambition: “There was a really strong community of inspiring students who were all exploring business ideas.

“I began doing a lot of freelance work with other students, helping to launch their products and brands.

“I feel in love with UX design particularly – the challenge of combining design, technology and business objectives into seamless product designs was a challenge I relished.”

The university environment was evidently something that was integral to the path Harry has now embarked on. He recalls a particularly memorable talk by Ajaz Ahmed, the founder of AKQA and Bath alumnus as a “penny drop moment.”

He says, “I remember listening to the talk and being in complete awe of what he’d achieved in such a short space of time. The fact that he’d once been sat in the same seat as me really made me think – that could be me!”

And in true entrepreneurial spirit, things didn’t quite go the way Harry planned in terms of launching Haio.

His initial easy-going plan, “was to graduate university in the spring, take the summer off and then start the business in the autumn… best-laid plans though because I got a break in the form of a big client 6 weeks before my final exams!”

No points for guessing what Harry chose to do. He says, “I took on the client (to the detriment of my exams) and haven’t looked back – we’ve been busy and growing every week since.”

An award-winning service

Harry is incredibly humbled to win the FutureSPARK award and to be shortlisted for Best Digital Design.

He tells us the feeling is, “unbelievable” and goes on to say, “We’ve worked a lot with last year’s winner, Georgia Stewart, and the team over at Tumelo.

“Georgia’s had an incredible year since winning the award and Tumelo has developed a huge amount, so I’m excited and also slightly nervous to try and live up to the award.”

But it looks like Harry is on track to do just that. The future seems bright for Haio, beginning with the expansion of the team to 4-5 people by the end of the year, allowing them to “scale expertise and capacity further.”

He goes on to tell us, “Longer term we’re aiming high! We’re in the fortunate position to be growing completely organically and without investment at the moment.

“I’m sure we could grow faster with it, but we’re in no rush – this way we’re able to keep the quality extremely high and build a strong design orientated culture so that when we do accelerate growth, there will be a solid foundation to build from.”

In the meantime, Harry tells us his primary focus is on two things: “Firstly, making Haio a fantastic place to work for the team and secondly to think more strategically about how we can bring even better work to our clients.”

Thanks to Harry for taking the time to talk to us and congratulations on winning the FutureSPARK award. We’re excited to see what the future holds for the Haio team!