Collaborative working space and business growth community Sovereign Connect is self-funding 50 places on a new programme at their offices in Llantrisant, South Wales for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their businesses.

The vision comes after the founders’ own experiences of struggling to build and grow their businesses and desire to engage with others on a similar journey.   The GROW 2017 programme, hosted by Sovereign Connect, was developed as a way of helping others going through what the founders have already experienced as seasoned entrepreneurs.

During 2017, 50 business owners are being invited to apply to join the Sovereign Connect community for free as part of the GROW 2017 programme and help boost entrepreneurship in Wales. Successful candidates will benefit from coaching, mentoring and advice, a co-working/lounge space, networking and leadership events as well as access to hot desks, meeting rooms and virtual meeting technology.

Serial entrepreneurs Dave Dean and Darren James, each with over 25 years of experience running small businesses, have launched multiple businesses in the UK and the US.

They employ more than 50 people across two locations in the Rhondda Valleys.  Sovereign Connect is the joint creation of the Rhondda-born business partners.  The pair currently operate five other businesses together from Sovereign Connect including Risk Monitor, Julie Kelly HR, Webfibre, Candlhat Studios and Screentec.

The two are now hoping that their investment in the funded places will inspire and encourage business owners to have the confidence to take their business even further and spark even more entrepreneurship in Wales.

Mr Dean explains:

“There’s one thing I can categorically say when building your business: no-one can do it alone!  No matter how good you are, you simply can’t be good at everything.  I want Sovereign Connect to ignite that spark for someone and help people find the support they need to make 2017 their best year yet.

“Working closely with local and central government, support agencies, networking groups and the education sector, we want to use our combined knowledge and experience to help business owners take their businesses to the next level.”

Mr James added:

“In my early days, I got up at the crack of dawn, worked on printing machines all day in my garage in the freezing cold, delivered the finished goods at the end of the day and then spent the evenings doing the paperwork. It was a very lonely existence. The truth is, you cannot do it alone, you need to surround yourself with good people, the best you can afford.

“Between us, Dave and I have worked solidly over the last 25 years growing our businesses and have encountered every pitfall and mistake you can imagine along the way. It’s a personal mission of ours to help others excel in business and foster more entrepreneurial spirit across the region and I want to give something back to help others achieve their potential too.”


The opportunity to take part in the programme is only available until the end of 2017, so Sovereign Connect is encouraging business owners who are looking to develop personally and grow and their businesses this year, to go to and apply early. Businesses from any sector or industry are welcome to apply.


Sovereign Connect is a calm and peaceful co-working space, business lounge and event location located in Llantrisant, near the Royal Mint Visitor Centre.  Successful GROW 2017 candidates will benefit from free parking, wi-fi/superfast internet, a coffee lounge/co-working space, library of resources, coaching and mentoring support, seminars and workshops and access to meeting/conference rooms and a hot desking area.

Sovereign Connect is an ideal location to get your head down, providing you with thinking time to plan or simply to connect with other like-minded individuals around you. This is a business club for those looking to actively grow and develop themselves and their businesses.

For more information / To apply

* Visit

* Call general manager Brett Parry (General Manager) on 01443 805500

Case studies:

Louise Blackburn, Business Owner, Ambercouch (Sovereign Connect customer)

“Ambercouch was born over ten years ago now. There have been a few down sides of having my own business of course: no security, no sick pay, no holiday pay, clients can take up to 3 months to pay –  it is a huge risk but then anything worth doing is a risk. Being in charge of your own income and work schedule outweighs all of that. We have absolutely no regrets, we love it! And when you get good at it: freedom!

“Sovereign has been ideal for us, we live locally, our main office is within our home and we are a small team. They’ve helped us up our game and present ourselves in a way that helps clients take us more seriously.   With the right support and advice, I’ve managed to reduce my hours but increase my overall income.  To be able to get to this place without compromising my business has been a blessing.

“Business owners really need to invest in themselves if their businesses are going to grow. It’s too easy to forget to invest in yourself and actually spend time on your own development sometimes.

“I think it’s important that your work location is an extension of your business not just somewhere you go to work or to have meetings. I think a lot of business owners will recognise the feeling that it’s nice to have the support of people wanting you to do well.

“Business owners need a place to be to learn, grow and achieve. I think having the right mindset is an important as the business decisions you make.  There are no magic wands or formulas – the hard work has to come from you and I’m just glad to be surrounded by people who are taking this seriously – this is a space to make good things happen and I’m excited for the future.  I’m working on a business based book, I hope to finish that this year and more growth is definitely on the cards, we increased our turnover last year (15/16) by over 33% and on track to do the same if not more this current tax year.

“We are proud to have been part of this community from the beginning. My plan for this year is to continue to investing in the business to keep the business healthy. Roll on 2017 – we are ready for you!

Tom Dean, Managing Director of Screentec (Sovereign Connect customer)

“There are new (and let’s face it – annoying) challenges every day with running your own business. Normally involving managing other people! My early involvement with Sovereign has been great in this respect because although I was experienced in running my own accounts in previous roles, managing staff has been something I’ve needed help with. There’s another business located within the Sovereign Community who are an HR business – their support and advice has been invaluable.

“Essentially, there’s a developing community of like-minded individuals here who have faced or are facing the same problems, and are able and willing to help. I haven’t got time for pool tables and I don’t want to sit on bean bags or meet clients in coffee shops either. There’s a supportive atmosphere and a separate location where I can work on the business as opposed to in the business.

“This differs from other networking groups as they are entirely revolved around what business you can pass to other people, too. There’s no pressure with Sovereign to find work for other members. It’s more like a business support group. The focus is on using your experiences (old and new) to help other people.

“The advice I’d want to offer to people looking for a better year for their business in 2017 is this: invest in a resource that allows you the time and space away from your business, so you can work independently of the constraints of everyday business and simply focus on its future and resilience.  Through Sovereign Connect, I’m looking forward to more opportunities to expand my knowledge this year and continue to future-proof my business.”


Photo 1/Sovereign 1: Sovereign Connect founders Darren James (L) and Dave Dean (R)

Photo 2/Sovereign 2: Sovereign Connect founders Darren James (L) and Dave Dean (R)

Photo 3/Sovereign 3: Louise Blackburn (Business Owner, Amercouch) (Far left), Darren James (L), Dave Dean (R) and Tom Dean (Screentec) (Far right)

Photo 4/Sovereign 4: Tom Dean, Managing Director, Screentec

Photo 5/Sovereign 5: Louise Blackburn, Business Owner, Ambercouch