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, who once worked as a store assistant at Topman, 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.
And 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 that becoming a successful entrepreneur is not simply about having a good idea.
He said: “I’ve met many great minds over the last few years and I have realised the world is full of incredible ideas.
“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 – and this is the failure of tons of start-ups.
“I would say, give that as much thought as the actual business idea – each is as important as the other.”
Jamal was just a teenager when he began filming his friends rapping and singing with a cheap video camera and uploading the results to YouTube. From there he started to film up-and-coming and more established rappers and singers and soon realised the commercial potential of what had started as little more than a hobby.
Today he employs a team of five people at SB.TV and is currently working on a new website alongside plans to diversify from his urban music roots into becoming 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 admits that his apparently meteoric rise to fame hasn’t been plain-sailing and he has this warning for young people keen to follow in his golden footsteps: “If you are not ready for the knock backs then stay away from being an entrepreneur.
“It is full of let downs, stress and not much time to do other things.
“I remember when Drake first came to the UK and I had to persevere to get that interview. Now he is one of the biggest artists in the world and if I hadn’t been focused, dedicated, open-minded and most importantly, approachable, I would never have made that opportunity work for me.”
And Jamal – who describes himself as passionate, driven and a little bit eccentric – stresses that despite his huge success, his feet are still firmly on the ground. An ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, which supports young people to move into work, education and training, he is keen to use his fame and fortune to help the next generation to realise their full potential.
He added: “I really want to empower my generation to see the power digital can bring to them at an economic and sociological level.
“I want to find the Jamal Edwardses from different areas in Britain and use the power of SB.TV to empower them to change their communities.”
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