image: Leeds-Manchester businesses drive successful Northern Powerhouse Mission

Leeds-Manchester businesses drive successful Northern Powerhouse Mission

The UK’s leading provider of voice and messaging technology for software systems, aql, has announced a new telecoms partnership with CircleLoop, after their companies’ founders, Dr Adam Beaumont and David Hague, struck a deal on the outbound flight of the tech trade mission from Manchester to San Francisco.

A delegation of 30 tech industry entrepreneurs, led by Beaumont, alongside Manchester-based Scott Fletcher of ANS, represented the Northern Powerhouse on the first trade mission of its kind via the first ever direct Virgin Atlantic Manchester to San Francisco flight.

The mission was a success, with relationships being established within the delegation as well as with investors and startups. The mission also gained insights into how to build the ecosystem to support scaling at the rate of the global tech platforms, such as LinkedIn and Salesforce.

Strong links were also forged with incubation experts, such as Rocketspace – the springboard of names such as Uber and Spotify.

Not only were the delegation ready to do business overseas: When CircleLoop’s Hague and aql’s Beaumont struck up a conversation on the flight, they realised there was business to be done.

aql founder and chief executive officer Dr Adam Beaumont said: “We realised that CircleLoop were our ideal customer and we were their ideal supplier within a few minutes of conversation.

“Leading the trip and visiting several aql partners in the San Francisco Bay Area allowed the delegation to get a feel for how we work – which is about embracing an ecosystem.

“We look at not only how we can supply a start-up, but how we can drive opportunities for them, and we look forward to working with the CircleLoop team in the same way.

“I’m sure the aql-CircleLoop story is not unique and there are many opportunities for similar collaborations across the Northern Powerhouse cities and the clear benefits of bringing together dynamic businesspeople from the Northern cities.”

CircleLoop founder David Hague said: “We are delighted to be working with aql as a part of our telecoms technology stack. They are proven leaders in the communications space and their quality technical infrastructure and industry expertise is something we will benefit greatly from.

“We believe telecoms remains a painful, complex and expensive area for many small businesses. CircleLoop has been built to offer a simple, flexible, self-service business telephone system, and with aql’s support we believe we can take on traditional telecoms providers and be a compelling alternative for businesses.”

CircleLoop is a cloud-based business phone system that can be setup online in seconds. CircleLoop desktop and mobile apps let customers make and receive calls anywhere, making phone lines, desk-phones and business mobiles redundant.

aql is the UK’s largest provider of wholesale telephone numbers to smart software companies who need to communicate with their customers – supplying some of the most prominent household names via a suite of partners, including some of the largest San Francisco telecoms startups. If you’ve ever had a call or a text from a software system, there’s a good chance it’s passed over the aql network.

Commenting on the overall success of the mission, Beaumont, who is also the founder of Northinvest, a not-for-profit platform linking angel investors with startups across the North of England, added: “One of our aims was to build links to investors in the Bay area with the view to them co-investing in UK startups and also ensuring that San Francisco startups know that the North is open for business when they need to open their UK offices.

“To attract talented companies, and incubators such as Rocketspace and Level 39, we need to have the right investor ecosystem in place, and this is what Northinvest is building.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive, Leeds City Council said: “The combined scale and capability of the digital sector across the North’s cities is massive. We have different and complementary strengths, such as our expertise and critical mass in Leeds in telecoms, cyber security, health tech, big data and through our position as an Internet-independent city, as a result of IX Leeds, our internet exchange which provides direct global internet connections for the north.

“We are now seeing unprecedented levels of cooperation across the north as demonstrated by the recent successful Northern Powerhouse trade mission to San Fransisco and Silicon Valley led by Adam Beaumont of aql in Leeds. As well as promoting the north’s digital sector to Silicon Valley investors, it is fantastic news that deals were done between Leeds and Manchester firms that were part of the Northern Powerhouse delegation.

“By continuing to work together across the North, for example through the NorthInvest platform, we can link digital start-ups and scale-ups to investors, accelerating business growth and creation of jobs.”

Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is all about the great northern cities working together to help the North realise its full potential and rebalance the national economy. Connectivity, whether through improved transport links such as high speed rail or digital infrastructure, is clearly key to this and it’s always encouraging to see examples like this of companies from our cities co-operating on this agenda.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said: “Manchester is the San Francisco of Britain. Digital, entrepreneurial, creative, cosmopolitan and dynamic: it’s got every ingredient to be a world class 21st century city. Our job is to connect like-minded businesses and customers together and it looks like the new route is already doing just that.”

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