This is Wales. This is innovation and entrepreneurship working together

James Taylor is one of Wales’ most successful young entrepreneurs who in 2014 was crowned IoD UK Director of the Year – one the UK’s most prestigious annual business awards – in front of more than four hundred of the most successful business people in the land. Now, through REAP, James is a figurehead who is committed to encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to dream just as big as he has.

When James Taylor left university he found himself at a crossroads. He had to decide whether to get what most people would describe as ‘a proper job’, or follow his dream of launching his own business.

And such was his determination to go it alone, he even turned down a gift of £1000 from his parents that they offered to him as travelling money – and instead convinced them to put it towards his business idea: a sports coaching and development organisation for children.

More than a decade later, that organisation – called Superstars and based in Bridgend – now employs 240 staff and helps over 80,000 children a week across 250 primary schools. But if that makes the road to success sound like a simple one, it’s actually been far from straightforward. Every successful entrepreneur has encountered problems – and James is no different.

Wales is a place of great people with great ideas. REAP can give entrepreneurs the confidence and support to take that all-important leap.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned,” he says. “It’s that when times get tough, the successful entrepreneur gets tougher. The biggest factor that decides your success is your long-term resilience and how you respond to setbacks.”

He could easily have become disillusioned in the days when – while he was getting his business off the ground – he slept on friends’ sofas and used his old university library as a makeshift office. But the fact he remained positive and motivated owes much to the spectacular success that eventually arrived.

That brings us to today. James is now focussed on using his knowledge and experience to help tomorrow’s Wales-based entrepreneurs write success stories of their own.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” James says, talking about his business. “I ignored the naysayers but I worry about how many people out there could start great businesses but have been put off. That’s why I’m involved with BE THE SPARK – to develop a positive, aspirational culture for all entrepreneurs in Wales.”