Damian Hanson is the co-founder of CircleLoop, a company providing cloud-based business phone services to SMEs.
Hanson co-founded CircleLoop in 2016 with David Hague. The Lancashire-based company provides telephony software for businesses such as virtual phone numbers, cloud call recording and voice over internet protocol systems.
CircleLoop, which describes itself as a “digital-led challenger telco”, has roughly 4,000 SME customers in the UK. Formerly known as Misson Labs, it was acquired Gamma Communications in 2021 for £46m.
Hanson has previous experience as the head of internet services at The National Computing Centre and sales director at 2ergo.
He also co-founded One iota in 2010, a company that develops multi-channel strategies for retailer brands including JD Sports and Littlewoods, before leading it to a multi-million-pound acquisition three years later.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Hanson explains why bringing in a technical director was a key early hire, why first-time founders should seek out a co-founder, and how edtech is prime for growth.
1. Which role was the most important early hire you made?
Damian Hanson: That’s a tough one, but bringing in our technical director played a pivotal role in shaping the success CircleLoop has seen today. Their expertise in software development brought our vision to life with a well-structured, meticulously implemented codebase that set the foundation for our business.
Good code like this is the bedrock for all successful technology companies so it’s essential to get this right from the start. When done wrong, it can be extremely costly and time-consuming to unpick. A close second to our technical director would’ve been our financial director, as control and management of the pennies is crucial.
2. What advice would you give to a first-time founder?
DH: If you’re a first-time founder, my most valuable advice would be to seek out a co-founder. Find someone you can trust and who complements your core skills. It’s important to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses because it’s highly unlikely that you can excel at everything to the degree you envision.
I’ve been fortunate to have a co-founder, David Hague, whose skills complement mine. Together, as a team, we’ve discovered a winning formula that has been the cornerstone of our journey.
3. How do you motivate your team?
DH: When it comes to motivating our team, our approach centres on leading by example. Our team can see firsthand when we’re genuinely excited about the work we’re creating and our unwavering commitment to our vision. This enthusiasm, coupled with the drive and care we invest, tends to permeate through the entire team.
We firmly believe that good team communication is also an essential ingredient in our recipe for success. By fostering an environment of transparency, open dialogue, and mutual respect, we ensure that our team remains motivated and engaged, always striving for excellence.
4. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?
DH: A surprising fact about me that not many people know is that I am a fully qualified chef.
5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?
DH: The pandemic catalysed a transformation in the education landscape, ushering in a new way of learning – this digital shift is merely the tip of the iceberg. The global education market remains vast and largely untapped when it comes to harnessing the potential of technology.
Whether it’s personalised learning, immersive experiences, or redefining traditional models; education is a sector with boundless opportunities for innovation and positive impact. The future of education is undoubtedly a space to watch for groundbreaking developments.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.