Joel Blake OBE

Joel Blake OBE, Founder & CEO of financial technology start up Feelyx, is a self-confessed former inner-city introvert with bad glasses who refused to conform to societal stereotypes, Joel is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, speaker and facilitator.

As well as heading up Feelyx, Joel is the Managing Director of Cultiv8solutions, where he consults on diversity strategy, talent management and social impact for professional service firms and leading universities.
He is also a non-Executive Director of Birmingham Town Hall & Symphony Hall, an independent governor of Birmingham Metropolitan College and Chair of the Diversity in Tech group for Silicon Canal.
Joel was made Birmingham Young Professional Year 2010 for Recruitment and Training. He was also awarded an OBE in the Queens 90th Birthday Honours List for Services to Business Support and Enterprise.

Were you born in Birmingham? Yes

What’s your favourite childhood memory of Birmingham? Visiting the rag market every Saturday with my mother, and listening to the patter and banter of the traders – hated having to pull the shopping trolley with the dodgy wheel though..

When was your breakthrough moment? Finally deciding to coming down off the balcony that I was about to jump off, as a depressed teenager.

How did you get into what you’re doing today? I set up my first business aged 21 as a mentoring consultancy for schools. It bombed. But I learned from the experience, had another go in other ventures until I decided to launch my own diversity consultancy. I wanted to help big businesses to support communities and other business owners too. We celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year.

What’s the greatest memory from your career? Speaking on the same stage as former US President Bill Clinton in 2012, in front of 4000 people.

Favourite thing to do in Birmingham? Finding new exciting independent places to eat.

What makes Birmingham stand out to you? How much people are willing to help you to grow, and the friendly culture of the city.

What are your thoughts on the future of Birmingham? We need to harness and merge our diversity, not just in terms of gender or race but also in thought, skills and knowledge, to drive innovation within key positions of influence. That way, all citizens have the chance to benefit.

If you could change one thing about Birmingham, what would it be? The ‘silo mentality’ that slowing erodes our ability to help each other.

Who’s the most famous person you think is from Birmingham? Francis Aston, Physicist and Nobel Peace prize winner.

Who are your heroes? 3 people you look up to? TD Jakes – his knowledge, Ben Horowitz- his experience, Sean Combs – his drive.

If you had a dinner party, which 3 people would you invite? Maya Angelou, Norman Wisdom, Busta Rhymes.

What are your plans for the future? Be in a position where I can dedicate the rest of my life to more speaking and mentoring others on how to maximise their own potential, regardless of any difference they may have. Just want to leave a positive legacy for future Brummies.

Who’s the most famous person in your phone book? That would be telling 😉