10 years ago, Google acquired a startup called Grand Central. Its clever telecoms product evolved into Google Voice, which allowed Americans to handle all their landline and mobile communications from one phone number, managed on the web.
Google Voice hasn’t evolved a great deal over the years, and it never expanded beyond the USA. If Google had pushed Voice into the business world, it might look a lot like what Manchester startup Mission Labs has just launched. CircleLoop is billed as “all your numbers, all the features, all your calls, all in our powerful apps,”
The service allows businesses to offer multiple phone numbers and manage them dynamically. For example, a small, national company might have local numbers of different cities, managed through CircleLoop. Via the product’s dashboard they could route different numbers to different members of a team. Perhaps they could have an emergency hotline that calls everyone in the company, too.
Employees can use their own smartphones to make and receive calls via work numbers, using CircleLoop’s iOS and Android apps. If certain team members need a break, you can set the hours or days when a certain number shouldn’t connect to a certain phone. Links to Slack and HipChat mean you can connect your phone communications up to the way your team chats internally.
It’s a flexible product that saves businesses from having to buy expensive office and mobile phone setups separately. In an age of coworking and flexible office leases, having flexible telecoms seems like a sensible policy for small businesses.
Mission Labs was founded by Manchester-based Damian Hanson and David Hague, who previously launched retail tech company One Iota. They join other Northern innovators in the telecoms space, like mobile deal comparison service Yboo and Leeds-based Simetric Telecom. Simetric is a similar service to CircleLoop, but uses SIM cards rather than web- and app-managed VoIP.
With the received wisdom that ‘millennials don’t make phone calls,’ it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that a lot of businesses still rely on old-fashioned voice communication. CircleLoop is making that communication a little less old-fashioned.