The Origins of BLNDED

Naji H. Kelley
Nov 9, 2016 · 5 min read

The idea for BLNDED Media was born out of my frustration working in corporate America combined with an eagerness to present entrepreneurs of color as examples of inspiration. I worked as a client support specialist in the IT department for a corporate REIT company headquartered in Beachwood, OH. I was in my early twenties and after two years the job became tiresome. So, I sought out a new challenge, not only professionally but also personally to help me reach my fullest potential.

I ran into a brick wall with management due to their lack of support of new ideas so I decided to look into the U.S. Military. I felt this venture would encourage personal development and give me the opportunity to learn business leadership from those working at the professional level I aspire to attain. My goal is to build a billion dollar company from scratch so I began researching the top business leaders around the globe. I read countless autobiographies of entrepreneurs and billionaires; including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Mohammed Ibrahim. I also read many articles featuring the top entrepreneurs in business or in technology which is when I noticed a similar pattern. There was a major lack of diversity on these lists so I began asking myself, “Why?”.

The only entrepreneurs of color on the billionaire lists were usually Oprah Winfrey and the first African American Billionaire, Bob Johnson; whom incidentally is no longer a billionaire. Within the realm of entertainment and athletics, African Americans are seen as the dominant leaders of the industry. Unfortunately, when I began to dig deeper I discovered that African Americans were not the leaders in these industries at all. History teaches us that African Americans are the creators of Hip Hop but throughout my research it became apparent to me they are not the owners. This analogy of Hip Hop and ownership was crucial in fueling my questions into the current landscape of business as well as allowing me to brainstorm ideas on how to make an impactful change.

In 2013 I read an article entitled The Nation’s Largest Black Businesses compiled by Black Enterprise. I had only heard of a handful of the companies on the list and none of them were industry leaders, in my opinion. This lit a fire under me and right then, in that moment, I knew entrepreneurship was the career path for me. I wanted to resolve the lack of representation of entrepreneurs of color who were in the trenches building their companies, as well as provide a platform that could help diverse entrepreneurs scale and grow their companies.

The more I researched the more passionate I became about my new found goal to change the media landscape. After I returned from my overseas deployment in 2014 the necessary dots connected in order for my vision of BLNDED’s web series to become a reality.

Being in the U.S. Navy for 4 years has given me the opportunity to travel around the United States and overseas which has allowed me to interact with many different cultures. I have had many conversations with people of different races, ethnicities, cultures, and creeds. These stories and experiences not only impacted my view of being black in America but more importantly who we all are as human beings which, in my opinion, unites us all. What makes us unique is the color of our skin, our culture and life experiences, and how we respond to adversity.

Fast forward to November 2015, I found myself once again researching business leaders and looking for any changes or improvements as far as diversity. With little to no change I asked myself the same question, “Why?”. And in that moment I told myself to stop complaining and to get up and get to work. The idea was to create a documentary web-series that highlights diverse founders in the process of building innovative companies. In 2013 I came across a show called BRINK on Bloomberg TV. It was a documentary which reported the latest and most cutting edge companies in business as well as an inside look at the inner workings. As I watched the people and companies doing amazing things I became interested and wanted to learn more about them. I wanted to know who owned what, how large was the organization and the management team, they’re path, and how they became successful. The eagerness this documentary gave me to learn more about the companies and people it showcased inspired the framework for the BLNDED web-series.

The name BLNDED wasn’t revealed until preproduction. BLNDED best represented the vision of what life is and what media should be. Everyone should be represented and have a seat at the same round table discussion in business. BLNDED Media is the medium to show the world why and how it’s done.

BLNDED is a media platform that creates and shares stories of multicultural entrepreneurs. Redefining the narrative of what it means to be an entrepreneur. By leveraging the power of media, data analysis, journalism and storytelling, we connect entrepreneurial ecosystems to create opportunities that change lives.

The approach is to leverage the power of media to change the narrative about the realities of being an entrepreneur as well as encouraging future generations to make their mark in business. Our innovation is leveraging the media to fuel the development of diverse relationships when it comes to business. This will be accomplished through the sharing of stories about the entrepreneurial spirit by presenting various points of view throughout mixed media mediums.

We believe telling the stories of these individuals will allow future generations to know that being an entrepreneur is not easy but very possible. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from, you can make it because of those who helped create the path before you. The reality of the entrepreneurial journey speaks to many people and BLNDED aims to leverage that language. BLNDED will show the impact of learning from other human beings who may have different world-views, ideas, and experiences. It will challenge us all to improve upon ourselves and to use entrepreneurship as a metric on how far we can go not just in business but within humanity.


Building a voice and community for multicultural entrepreneurs.

Naji H. Kelley

Written by

A Wize Gentleman with an Entrepreneurial Spirit. Building the @blnded community.


Building a voice and community for multicultural entrepreneurs.