Breed a thoroughbred or dream up a unicorn? Starting a business with LoopUp

LoopUp’s Steve Flavell on choosing to breed a thoroughbred, over dreaming up a unicorn, when it comes to business.

Conference calls are an established part of our daily working lives. Yet, the world has had to put up with some familiar frustrations, like awkward dial-in details, not knowing who’s joined, background noise, and late joiners, for 25 years now. This is the heart of the reason LoopUp exists.

Founded in 2003 by Steve Flavell, and co-CEO Michael Hughes, LoopUp is the premium remote meetings solution making conference calls simple for mainstream business users. “We exist to make conference less painful by solving the problems other technology firms aren’t,” says Steve Flavell, co-CEO of LoopUp.

LoopUp was also the first UK tech company to list on AIM post-Brexit. The IPO raised £8.5m and valuing LoopUp at £40 million, and the share price has since increased by nearly 300 per cent percent. LoopUp has seen almost 40 percent year-on-year growth for each of the last three years, delivered at high gross margins above 75 percent.

Why did LoopUp choose to list on AIM?

“One of the reasons for deciding to list on AIM to pursue our growth strategy was the credibility that comes with being public. Buyers are looking for a product and service that they can rely on, and in that respect, going public signals that we’re a solid proposition.

“When starting our business, typically second-order questions about the business came first: Who do we want to work with? What will our culture be? How do we build a place we want to work, no matter how long it takes? Decisions about which market to enter, what product to build and how to finance it came later. We knew from the outset that we wanted to create a sustainable, disruptive business where we were able to maintain control over our direction and decisions.

“That’s why we’ve actively avoided the ‘growth at all costs’ route. Instead, we’ve invested heavily in building a lot of processes to drive efficiency to the core of the business – this is actually quite unusual for a company of our size. Our mantra internally is; we’re building a thoroughbred, not a unicorn.”

What advice would LoopUp give to smaller, fast growth companies?

“As within any growing business, the sales function needs particular attention – having a product that sells is one thing, but having a productive, scaled way to sell, is another. Rather than running separate business development, sales, and account management teams like many other businesses, we have found it more productive to develop our own team-based commercial structure which we call ‘Pods’.”

Pods are effectively mini companies each run by half-a-dozen people, incentivised solely as a team and solely on new revenue growth. LoopUp exclusively recruits new graduates for each Pod and trains them their way to ensure that LoopUp’s disruptive story isn’t diluted by any industry preconceptions.

“We’ve found our ‘pods’ structure to be a motivating, scalable and incredibly productive way of running our business, which leads to very consistent and efficient growth. Every pound we invest in sales and marketing has a present value return of six.”

How has LoopUp continued to stand out against others in the market?

“Our consistent strong growth in this £5 billion technology space, which has attracted heavyweight market participants such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix and Adobe, as well as hot Silicon Valley names such as Zoom and Blue Jeans, is due to our clearly differentiated product strategy.

“Sadly, the majority of business people just accept regular frustrations as part and parcel of the conferencing experience. For example, most business users are still dialling into conference calls with numbers and codes. They’re doing so not because they like it but because software-based alternatives are deemed too intimidating. Yet, with dial-in, every call is essentially a “black box.” This is a major security risk often overlooked by both user and business. For example, 60 per cent of conference calls consider it the norm not knowing who’s on their conference calls.

This is why LoopUp is ridding the conference call market of ‘dial-in’. Last year, new LoopUp users elected to use dial-out – a feature where LoopUp calls your phone – during 75 per cent of their meetings, rather than dialling in with numbers and codes.

“There are plenty of highly-functional software products in the market, vying for the attention of tech-savvy early adopters and specialist departmental users such as training and IT staff. LoopUp, however, meets a specific use case – albeit a use case for the mainstream majority of business people. LoopUp is designed to keep conference calls simple and, critically, requires no training for end users. We obsess over the usage rates of those select capabilities we choose to incorporate into the product; we take the view that, done well, less is more. This is a very different approach to the rest of market and is what appeals to the business people who are suffering day in and day out.”

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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