Mark Hurley, co-founder and chief executive of Auckland-based digital agency Little Giant, is one of 17 inspiring finalists in this year's prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition.

The 32-year-old now lives in Auckland but grew up in Kerikeri - schooled at Riverview Primary and Kerikeri High School.

Little Giant is a digitally-led creative agency based in Auckland's CBD. It partners with clients (emerging and established) to build digital products and services, design engaging brand communications and experiences, and implement cross-channel, digitally-led campaigns.

Mr Hurley founded his first company at age 17, and has been self-employed ever since. While he had never worked within the advertising industry, in 2011 the creatively inclined Hurley saw an opportunity to innovate the existing advertising agency model.

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Mr Hurley believed he could build a new breed of agency that could sit at the intersection of consultancy, creativity and technology. Soon after, Little Giant was born.

Established in 2011 and now with more than 40 employees, Little Giant is one of New Zealand's fastest-growing digital agencies.

The company was also named one of New Zealand's fastest-growing companies in 2015 (Deloitte Fast 50), one of Asia-Pacific's fastest-growing technology companies in 2015 and 2016 (Deloitte Asia Pacific Tech Fast 500) and continues to achieve more than 60 per cent year on year revenue growth.

Mr Hurley's future vision for the company includes continued growth in New Zealand, with simultaneous expansion into the United States starting later in 2017.

"I feel humbled to be included as a finalist for such as prestigious award. Outside of convincing my fiancee Camille to move to New Zealand with me, building the team we have at Little Giant has been the greatest achievement of my life.

"I feel so lucky to work alongside such an amazing group of people, this nomination really does belong to them as much as me."

Mark and the 16 other finalists face the judging panel this month, and then five category winners will be selected to continue further in the competition. These names will be announced in Auckland on August 18.

These five will then compete for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year title, to be announced on October 12. The New Zealand winner will represent New Zealand at EY's World Entrepreneur Of The Year event in Monaco in June 2018.