The internet in human form is how one web-savvy e-incubator describes 27-year-old designer Justin Cooke. And, he adds, what sets Cooke apart from his peers is his grasp of business. 'He is equally at home talking technology with his programmers or strategy with the board director of a big company.'
Since setting up his own web agency in late 1997 on the back of a pounds 26,000 overdraft and credit card borrowing, Cooke has attracted clients ranging from fledgling dot.coms to IBM, BT and the BBC. 'Funding it that way was expensive but good for my discipline - I had to make money quickly,' he says. He did. In the last financial quarter alone Fortune Cookie had a pounds 1 million turnover.
'I am fascinated by computers and what they can do, but my best asset is my natural feel for business,' says Cooke, who had been immersed in the family travel firm from childhood.
Fortune Cookie now employs 50 people (including staff in the US who work exclusively online) and has never made a loss. Cooke knows the old rules as well as the new and his approach goes well beyond the familiar bolt-on web site. 'I look at a client's business in the round: funding, strategy, the business plan - big-picture stuff.' Business is brisk and Cooke is now looking for funding via a trade sale or flotation before the end of the year. 'I'll do whatever is best for the business. I'm very ambitious for Fortune Cookie.'