Two successful entrepreneurs have shared their experiences of launching and selling two businesses inside 10 years for £50m+.

Damian Hanson and David Hague sold their first business One iota to Sanderson Group in 2013 for £5.43m and saw their second venture Mission Labs acquired by Gamma Communications in a deal worth up to £46m in March 2021.

The duo are preparing to open a new office in Manchester and double Mission Labs’ workforce to 200 and have spoken to TechBlast about their story so far.

A part of Hanson and Hague’s career education was spent working at 2ergo alongside the two founders Barry Sharples and Neale Graham.

The pair left in 2010 and eventually launched One iota together as their first startup.

“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Hague tells TechBlast. “Knowing what to leave to one and other is one of the reasons we’ve been successful.

One iota took advantage of the shift from bricks and mortar retail to online shopping and rapidly started working with big brands like JD Sports, SuperDry and Footasylum.

How to build and sell two businesses for £50m inside a decade 

Hague believes startups have to be agile. “You’ve got to take those decisions quickly,” he says. “If you get them wrong you’ve got to learn from them.

Before long they came to the attention of Sanderson Group and were bought soon afterwards.

Fast forward to March 2016 and Hanson and Hague joined forces again to launch Mission Labs.

“The mission was to challenge the traditional telecoms industry with a digital-led approach with in-house technology and our wholly owned products” Hanson says.

“The challenge in telecoms was the legacy of cables, desk phones and clunky hardware moving to a cloud native approach. The aim was to remove some of these shackles.”

Hague said the secret to growth is being clear about the value of your business as a tech company.

“We view ourselves as a technology business in the telecoms sector and we had to have our own technology,” he says.

“We could not be reselling somebody else’s platform to try and make a margin. We had to have our own technology and our own IP.”

Mission Labs launched two key products – CircleLoop a cloud-based phone system for SMEs and SmartAgent a contact centre solution for enterprise customers.

“If your product is right and you’ve researched the market right you’ll attract customers,” explains Hanson. “I’m pleased to say both our products attracted customers.

“The other important thing is you’ve got to have a super talented team around you that is pulling the rope in the same direction.”