'I traded in my £1k car to start my own business and now drive a Lamborghini'


A Welsh entrepreneur who sold his first car 15 years ago to set up his own business in his parent’s garage has revealed his latest extravagant purchase - a black Lamborghini. 

After building up his multi-million pound company ROCK, one of UK’s largest technology consultancies, Rob Dance decided to treat himself with a luxury sports car as his business is set to turnover £10m this year.

It all started in the market town of Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan when he left school after his GCSE. Driven by a passion for innovation, the teenager spent his spare time building rockets, taking part radios and tinkering with computers to see how it all worked.  

“That’s probably where my thirst for problem solving and innovation came from,” he told WalesOnline. “That’s probably why I wanted to set up my own business. School wasn’t really for me, the subject didn’t really appeal to me.” 

Rob went travelling for a bit before heading home and found a job fixing computers. 

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But in order for him to set up his business, he decided it would be wiser to get a degree and ended up graduating with a first class honours in business. 

He set up his one-man IT solution business in his childhood playroom but it was not until he was 25, in 2008 that his business started booming thanks to an innovative USP. 

"We were one of the first companies to offer unlimited IT support for one flat monthly fee," Rob said. Companies were desperate to keep costs down, and ROCK "massively rocketed".

ROCK says on its website that it "provides customer-centric solutions to the world's most complex technology challenges". 

They offer IT support to businesses, he explained, helping them adopt new technology and set up things like cyber security.

Rob and his team quickly outgrew the garage and he moved ROCK into proper offices, in part because one thing Rob is passionate about is providing a fun workplace to attract the best talent. He's a self-confessed workaholic too - he reckons he's had just 20 days of annual leave in the first 14 years.

"When we got our first office the landlord didn't expect us to be in business for very long and asked us to pay on a weekly basis," he said. 

But Rob proved them all wrong, taking on 30 new staff members in the first 18 months and doubling turnover every year. 

His rapid expansion saw ROCK listed in the Fast Growth 50 for five years running: "To be recognised as one of the top-50 in Wales, that's when you realise there's something big going on," said Rob.

At first, it was all about customer satisfaction and the team would write out positive feedback on bits of paper and stick them up on the wall: "Success was about those pieces of paper on the wall," said Rob. 

Rob can pat himself on the back as his business set to turnover £10m this year and he earned a place on the shortlist for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. 

"You come up with an idea and I just had that passion to give it a go," he said. "I started my business with £1,000 from selling my Renault 5. I still take risks today, you don't want to be held back by worrying too much. I look at things as opportunities rather than risks."

His team is important to him and Rob says they are "exceptional". Creating a positive working environment is a big motivating factor for Rob and he's quick to praise their dedication and skills.

Despite a record-breaking couple of years, Rob has had ups and downs in his personal life to deal with. He lost his dad two years ago and his first child, Leo, was also born.

Losing his father has made him reflect more, he admitted, while Leo provides "lots of motivation for the future".

Now aged 40, he's still someone who always looks forward, eager for the next project and opportunity. But he realises that his son will grow up quickly: "I've started to think more about the future and I need to be with my son more," he said. "You don't get that time back."

His work ethic is undoubtedly strong, as he added: "I work every day." That constant striving to move forward is also evident in his down time: he's an "avid" gym goer and is regimented with his meals. "I think the gym is really aligned to business," he said. "It's about goal setting and motivation and progress."

He loves cars but thought long and hard about the purchase of his lamborghini, wondering if he had enough time to even drive it. 

"But after 15 years and a record-breaking year it felt like the right time to treat myself," he said. It's still so new, he won't take it out in the rain but said it was a "thrill" to drive despite being "a little bit cringeworthy".

Rob has achieved 32% jobs growth and 30% revenue growth in the last 12 months with turnover soaring to £10 million. Still he plans to increase that to £20m over the next two years.

The team is working to launch a new product across the world that will "challenge the way people run their businesses". He's aiming to get listed on the Nasdaq in the US by 2026.

He has plans to launch a campaign designed to support 10 aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them with £1,000 and any necessary guidance to establish a business that generates a turnover of ten million within three years. 

"It's about just getting started," he said. "People have great ideas but they never get started with it. If you've got a good idea, just give it a go.

"I formed ROCK in 2008 with just £1,000 in the bank, selling my Renault 5 and transforming my childhood playroom into a one-man IT solution. Today, we have evolved into a company that employs the best and brightest minds in the industry, driven by the belief that technology is a powerful tool for positive change, but it's our people who truly make the difference."

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