A START-UP that enables small businesses to manage calls on their mobiles using a landline number is attracting attention in Silicon Valley.

Adrian St Vaughan is promoting DropCall365 as a “business phone system that fits in your pocket”.

He has just launched the business in Bournemouth and has been picked for a 10-week course at Stanford University which helps start-up founders grow their business.

He says many small businesses lose customers because they only use a personal mobile for work.

“It’s practical but doesn’t look professional. You have to give out your personal mobile number, and if you are busy, you spend a lot of time listening to voicemails. The alternative is a business landline, but that chains you to your desk,” he said.

“What we do is instantly set up business landline numbers for small businesses – so, we would set up an 01202 number.”

An app manages incoming calls to the landline number.

Callers initially hear a message which can be tailored to deal with frequently asked questions such as opening hours. To create that message, DropCall365 uses artificial intelligence to turn text into professional-sounding audio.

If the automated message doesn’t deal with the caller’s query, their call is then sent to the business’s mobile phone using their data plan.

“This means you get great call quality, It works over Wi-Fi if your phone is out of reception – let’s say you’re on holiday or in a ‘not spot’ in the UK,” said Mr St Vaughan.

“You can also call out from your mobile, but using your 01202 number, keeping your mobile number private.”

Mr St Vaughan said the technology was a good way to “capture” customers who would otherwise be lost because a sole trader was too busy on a site to take calls.

“The kind of products using this kind of technology are very expensive and aimed at call centres,” he said.

“Nobody thought about it from a small business perspective, especially for 20-30 calls a day.

“All the pieces were there but no one had put them together and seen how they could make the difference between a small business that’s struggling and a small business managing its growth.”

Use of the app-based service starts £7.95 a month for up to 350 minutes of calls.

Mr St Vaughan’s place on the Stanford course was paid for by Y Combinator, a large start-up incubator and venture capital organisation in Silicon Valley. “I’m really excited that they liked the idea and saw the potential,” said Mr St Vaughan.