He may only be 23 years old but Jamal Edwards has already launched his own business, become a self-made millionaire and caught the eye of politicians, business leaders and even royalty.
The boy from a west London council estate has seen his youth broadcasting channel SB.TV amass millions of views on YouTube and catapult him on to the Sunday Times young power and rich lists.
Jamal will be taking time out of his hectic schedule in September to tell young entrepreneurs at MADE, The Entrepreneur Festival, how he did it – and how they can turn their big ideas into big successes too.
Jamal, who recently joined Princes William and Harry for the first royal ‘selfie’ at the launch of the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, a search for inspirational young people making a difference in their communities, insists becoming a successful entrepreneur is not simply about having a good idea.
He said: “I’ve met many great minds. However, people often have great ideas but rarely think about how they are going to get them to the market from a practical point of view. They may know the demographic of who they want to connect with, but people rarely think of the how. This is the failure of tons of start-ups.”
Jamal was a teen when he began filming his friends rapping with a cheap video camera and uploading to YouTube. He started to film more established rappers and singers and realised the commercial potential of his hobby.
Today he employs five people at SB.TV and is working on a new website. He plans to diversify from his urban music roots into a much broader youth lifestyle broadcaster. He’s interviewed Prime Minister David Cameron and, as a winner of the Virgin Media Pioneers competition for the best and most innovative entrepreneurs in the UK, counts Sir Richard Branson as a friend.
But Jamal, an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, which supports young people into work, education and training, admits that his apparently meteoric rise to fame hasn’t been plain-sailing and warns: “If you are not ready for the knock-backs then stay away from being an entrepreneur. It is full of let downs and stress.
“When Drake first came to the UK I had to persevere to get that interview. Now he is one of the world’s biggest artists. If I hadn’t been focused, I would never have got there.”
MADE, The Enterpreneur Festival, is at Sheffield City Hall on September 24 and 25. Tickets are £48 (£24 concessions). For more information, visit www.madefestival.com