CircleLoop co-founders Damian Hanson and David Hague tell us how they’re disrupting the telecoms industry with their smart online phone system.
What is it the company does?
Our company is focussed on taking on the traditional telecoms providers with some new thinking as a technology led challenger in the space.
CircleLoop is a powerful cloud-based phone system and is designed for modern-day, smart-thinking small businesses, start-ups, scale-ups and freelancers 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 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.
What does your role involve?
As co-founders we are both heavily involved with the vision, development and growth of the business. Damian’s background is naturally more biased towards commercial aspects and David’s more towards technology and product development. As a duo they have proven this formula works well.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far — where did you start, how did you move on?
Damian: 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 David in 2010. One iota was acquired in 2013 by Sanderson Group Plc.
David: I have been involved with building several technology businesses; retail technology provider One iota which was acquired by Sanderson Group PLC in 2013 and mobile application developer Wapfly which was acquired by 2ergo Group PLC in 2009. I have worked with Damian since 2008.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
We feel that great leaders come in many different forms; there is probably no fixed skillset but we personally feel that leaders who are hands-on in the business and really demonstrate the ability to lead from the front are usually well respected.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
As an early stage start-up we feel every single day presents challenges, some more trivial than others. We would say our biggest challenges to date have been building our core technology product, gaining beta feedback from our early users and refining our messaging in the market so people can easily understand what CircleLoop can do for them.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Damian: I like to spend quality time with my wife and young family; both my boys are massively into sport, especially football, so I really enjoy watching them. When I have time I also like to train at the gym and enjoy a few drinks with friends.
David: I also have a young family and a dog so away from work they keep my wife and I very busy. I enjoy taking time away on holidays, where work commitments permit, and I always like to challenge myself by taking up new interests when I can — this year I have started to learn how to play the piano.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Damian: I never really had a career in mind that I wanted, I do remember considering joining the Police but I think this was because Careers Advice at school were always insistent you put a role in a box. I always knew I wanted to work for myself but it took me 10-years of working for others to take the plunge!
David: I always wanted to work with computers and spent a lot of time out of school learning to program. I have always worked in technology businesses for myself and deep down I know that because of this I am probably unemployable!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
We both like our office environment to be fairly relaxed for the team, as a result we don’t have too many pet hates. I would say the biggest would be untidiness or expecting others to clean up after themselves. It shows a lack of respect to other colleagues and the working environment provided.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We see a huge shift in the telecoms sector in the next decade — we would hope that in 5-years time CircleLoop is a leader in the SME telephony space in the UK.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Our top 5 tips would be:-
1. Think big
2. Make mistakes and learn
3. Build a great team
4. Focus on making and saving money
5. Have fun
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
That starting a business up from a blank piece of paper is the hardest thing you can possibly do in your life. We are now doing it again and it is no easier the next time around!