Peterborough’s winner in The Apprentice has described his meteoric rise from being expelled at school to securing a £250,000 investment with Lord Sugar.
Yaxley-born Joseph Valente (26), who attended Fourfields Community Primary School, was expelled after turning 14 for being a disruptive pupil at Stanground College.
But now living in Cardea, the plumbing boss is set for the big time after securing a 50/50 partnership with Lord Sugar to expand his Impra-Gas business nationwide.
Yet it has not always been plain-sailing for the Peterborough plumbing boss who has spoken openly during the latest series of The Apprentice about how he has risen dramatically from a difficult time in his life.
Discussing his expulsion from school, he said: “At the time I was going through a bit of a rough patch at home. Dad left when I was 13.
“I was a very strong individual and I did not like being told what to do. It was just a number of different issues, it was more because I was a distraction. I did not listen or do what I was told to do.
“I have learned a massive lesson. I wish I had listened and stayed at school but luckily for me I was successful, but it’s been a hard slog and I’ve persevered.
“I went to work with a local plumber called Darren Boardman. At 16 I went to Peterborough Regional College and he took me on as an apprentice.
“At 18 I quit and took out a loan and studied a gas course in Rotherham.
“At 19 I qualified to become a gas engineer then at 20 I went to Australia.
“I came back when I was 21 and at Christmas mum bought me Lord Sugar’s book which inspired me.
“I read it back to front relentlessly for three weeks then took out a £15,000 loan.”
Joseph was just 22 when he started his own business and began trading. He said: “It was amazing. It was a great time of my life.
“It was an amazing journey but very tough, stressful and tiring. It was seven days a week.
“I won two contracts very early - Woodcock Holmes and City and County - which gave me a large portfolio. I worked from there and got bigger and bigger.
“Three years in I have nine employees and a warehouse. It was just pure determination and ridiculous hard work - 18 hours a day non-stop.
“I’ve been to hell and back.”
And not satisfied with what he has achieved aged 26, Joseph has big plans for the future which includes a push for more workplace apprenticeships.
He added: “My end goal is to become very successful and leave a legacy behind, to give young people inspiration and tell them no matter what, you can achieve and become somebody.”
Joseph may want to expand his business across the country but Peterborough remains his home and a city he feels plenty of affection for.
He said he currently mentors pupils at Ken Stimpson Community School and sponsors local football team Malborne FC, adding: “Peterborough is an amazing city. It got me to where I am today.”