CircleLoop: Damian Hanson and David Hague
The cloud-based business phone software company on track to become a leader in the UK's small business telephony space
Tell us what your business does:
CircleLoop is focused on taking on the traditional telecoms providers with some new thinking as a digitally led challenger in the telecoms sector.
CircleLoop is cloud-based phone software for business and is designed for modern-day, smart-thinking businesses with its easy to use self-service approach, which ensures cost savings by eliminating the need for expensive desk phones, line rentals and long-term contracts. CircleLoop works completely in desktop and mobile ‘apps’ on users’ existing devices.
CircleLoop is designed to provide a simple solution to the business telephony issues encountered by many small businesses and professionals: lack of flexibility, high costs, and constant complexities.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea came from observing how difficult it was to deal with major telecoms providers in the businesses we have operated previously. We felt there must be a better way, so we created CircleLoop to provide simplicity in the sector.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We felt a large number of small businesses were starting to ignore their traditional telecoms tools and find alternative work-arounds. The main reason for this was the changing nature of business and the shift in new technology.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have always worked in a number of sales and commercial roles. I was previously Group Sales Director of mobile technology business, 2ergo Group Plc. Following that, I co-founded retail technology specialist, One iota, with my co-founder David Hague in 2010. One iota was acquired in 2013 by Sanderson Group Plc.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
In my early career, I just liked being in business generally. After about ten years of working with other entrepreneurs and founders, I decided it was the right time to start my own business, which I did in 2010. Three years later the business had been acquired in a multi-million pound deal by a Public Listed Company (Plc).
How did you raise the money?
CircleLoop was initially seed funded by myself and David as co-founders, alongside other private investors we have included in our initial £1.5m seed fund round. In our past businesses, we have always worked with angel investors, often people we have great existing relationships with and have worked with in business. We prefer raising capital as equity based investment and do so in a tax efficient way for our investors.
Describe your business model and how you make money
We charge a low monthly fee for CircleLoop. It costs just £15 per month and, for this fee, each user of the service gets their business phone number, all our telephony features and unlimited outbound UK calls. Our business model is therefore based on recurring customer revenues as we grow.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
As an early stage start-up, we feel every single day presents challenges, some more trivial than others. I would say our biggest challenges to date have been gaining strong beta feedback from our early users and refining our messaging in the market so people instantly understand what CircleLoop can do for them.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The first time someone wants to pay you in return for your service is a huge breakthrough; this means another business can see the value in your vision and what you have created. Whilst it may only be a small number of paying customers in the early stages, it gives you confidence in your product.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
There is a lot to think about when considering starting your own business. Based on my experiences, my top five tips would be:
- Think big
- Make mistakes and learn
- Build a great team
- Focus on making and saving money
- Have fun
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We see a huge shift in the telecoms sector in the next decade. BT has announced it will be switching off PSTN and ISDN connections by 2025, and 5G mobile data will dramatically increase the speed at which data is transferred, improving response times and providing capacity for billions of devices to be connected in the internet of things in the future. In light of this, we hope that in five years time, CircleLoop will be a leader in the small business telephony space in the UK.