Personal website – Joe Blackman, entrepreneur
Mentor. TV Personality.
Joe Blackman is an entrepreneur who started, built and sold multi-million pound global special events agency, Collection 26.
He now focuses his time on other events and entertainment related ventures and investments. He acts as a non-executive board member and advisor to a number of events and entertainment related businesses and continues to actively pursue his charity and TV/media work.
Currently backing some promising start-up ventures, Joe also supports charitable organisations by giving time to non-executive positions on their boards.
“One of the top rising star entrepreneurs of the 21st Century
— Business Insider Magazine
He is also mentoring upcoming company directors looking for advice on how to turn their small business into something great. Recently, he cemented his own success with the sale of Collection 26, the event management company he built up from scratch since 2005.
Catering to an elite clientele including some of the world’s biggest businesses and celebrity names, selling Collection 26 is the latest step in a journey spent creating opportunities and seizing ones others might miss.
Joe’s investments currently focus on the hospitality, events and entertainment industry. He provides strategic mentoring and consultancy to select start-ups through the Prince’s Trust and directly to high growth businesses.
Joe frequently speaks on major national and international broadcast media, including BBC News, Sky News, ITV, This Morning.
He regularly features in UK national publications such as The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Financial Times and MoneyWeek.
Blackman was made Institute of Directors, Young Director of the Year.
Joe was the only individual in the events, entertainment and creative industries sector that was recognised.
The making of an entrepreneur
From humble roots to a multi-million pound business…
Blackman did not grow up in the circles he moves in today. Raised by a hard-working single mother, Joe’s cost-conscious business ethic is rooted in a childhood living on the outskirts of Cardiff, the Welsh capital.
During family visits, while his cousins and siblings kicked a ball in the backyard, Joe set up a play office on the floor of his uncle’s business. With a cardboard box desk and an unplugged telephone, Joe spent hours imagining himself running his own business empire. As anyone at the top of their game will tell you, visualisation is key to achieving your goals.
As soon as Joe was old enough, he set up enterprises washing cars, painting neighbours oil tanks, selling handmade greeting cards and polishing antiques.
One of young Joe’s less enjoyed business ventures was painting neighbours oil tanks for £2.50, washing cars and polishing antiques was much more profitable!
“I always had a massive thirst for knowledge, and a belief that I could achieve anything I wanted with the right energy, drive and determination.
That belief holds true today.
— Joe Blackman
The early years
A lack of babysitters meant helping Mum at work was par for the course. What they didn’t know was this was Blackman’s first steps towards his first business. Her job meant he spent a lot of time hanging out at St Donats Art Centre when he was a teenager. When his mum got involved in working on a storytelling festival, he needed something to do.
Selling fresh juice to festival goers seemed like a good way to keep him safely occupied. Unlike most teenage boys, Joe didn’t whine about it, instead he leapt at the chance to show what he could do. He expanded his operation each year turning the fruit juice stall into a profitable enterprise!
By the time he was 18 and finishing his school exams, he worked his way up the ranks to be the festival’s event manager as well as the Arts Centre’s own technical manager after taking a great interest in lighting and sound production. A mentor and friend, who lectured at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Art in Cardiff, suggested he apply for their BA in Stage Management so, with years of experience already under his belt, Joe went to university.
To university, and beyond!
For most young people, a part-time bar job is all they can fit in around their studies. Joe not only kept his technical role at the Art Centre, but he also took on contracts with major local nightclubs and entertainment venues in and around Cardiff, such as the Millennium Stadium and International Arena.
He developed his budding taste for event management as Vice President of the Student Union by setting up an SU ball like none they’d seen before. An impressive affair set against the backdrop of Cardiff Castle, Joe sold advertising for the event around Cardiff. Joe was responsible for operating the SU companies, and his eye for business also led to buying back the SU bar franchise as well making commercial investments on the Union’s behalf.
Still only 19, an enterprising young Joe was gaining levels of experience that people years older would envy. Recognising the value of diversification, he set up a couple of creative side-lines. One involved selling fine art pieces to some of Cardiff’s top restaurants. They carried hefty price tags and delivered fantastic returns for Joe and his friend.
Another venture called “Bespoke Beds” led to a lucrative commission supplying bespoke beds to the Big Brother house at the peak of its popularity, and helping Blackman develop yet more useful contacts.
The journey into events
A lot of event management is about who you know and through his freelancing and business ventures word soon spread about the young Welsh lad with a knack for making things happen. Joe was soon involved in large-scale events outside the university such as Party in the Park and the Tsunami aid concert. But through it all he kept up with his studies.
“Achieving anything is possible with the right passion, ethics, drive and determination.
— Joe Blackman
And then came one of those blink and you’ll miss it opportunities. Only halfway through his degree, he was offered the chance to join the Olympic team running the Asian Games in Qatar. Someone had dropped out and the organisers needed a replacement quickly.
It was a no-brainer. Joe left his digs and spent the next six months living on a cruise ship off the coast while coordinating every aspect of the Games’ aquatic events from stage management to timings.
While he was there a chance encounter with the Qatari royal family led to a long-lasting friendship and the prestigious opportunity to plan a royal wedding some years later under the guise of his event planning company, Collection 26.
“Planning the most spectacular events we have seen” Vogue
From its incorporation in 2005 until its 2017 sale, Collection 26 grew into one of the world’s leading event planning companies under Joe’s direction.
From footballers to musicians, and hedge fund managers to royalty Blackman’s company has created opulent weddings and extravagant parties that his childhood self could only dream of.
It was a surprise to many when he sold. He says it was the right time and the right offer came along giving him the chance to invest more valuable time in his other projects.