Who is Jamal Edwards?
From a London council estate to a media empire at just 25 – read on for five fascinating facts about the young entrepreneur behind SB.TV…
Name: Jamal Edwards MBE
Businesses: Edwards is the founder of youth and music-focused media platform SB.TV, which he founded from his bedroom at just 15. The brand has since spawned its own record label, Just Jam.
Why you should know about him: At 25, Edwards has already achieved more than most entrepreneurs will achieve in a lifetime and counts Richard Branson as a personal friend. Not content with digital media, Edwards has dipped his toes in the world of fashion, has published an e-book and recently launched a news arm of SB.TV. In 2014 he was awarded an MBE for services to music.
One of the most well known young entrepreneurs in the digital landscape, Edwards has gone from West London council estate, to YouTube star, to media mogul in a matter of years.
Here are five facts to help you understand his meteoric rise…
He started as a rapper on YouTube
What started out as a hobby, filming himself and his friends singing and rapping on a basic video camera he’d been given for Christmas, quickly turned into a viable business opportunity when the number of hits his videos were getting on YouTube enabled him to take a percentage of the website’s advertising revenues.
While it took some persistence, the young entrepreneur had to prove his uploads were original content before he could be paid; he was soon receiving bigger and bigger cheques and was able to quit his retail job at Topshop.
Going under the name SB.TV, after his rapping name SmokeyBarz, Edwards’ channel quickly started attracting thousands of subscribers. The current tally stands at over 650,000 – and he has worked with some of the world’s biggest artists including Justin Bieber, Drake and Ed Sheeran and has hundreds of millions of views on his videos.
He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies
Not content with running a hugely successful YouTube channel, Edwards has dabbled in a number of other ventures.
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In 2014, he collaborated with American Freshman on a range of caps for Topman, which sold well. He has also released a bestselling e-book called Self Belief: The Vision, which was so popular it went on to be released in print by Virgin Books.
He has also gone into business with young entrepreneur Joe Carnell to launch a chain of yoghurt, juice and health bar cafes. Ugot has two stores in York and Newcastle with a Harrogate store to open soon.
SB.TV is more than just a media company
Edward’s company has expanded its remit significantly since 2006, curating stages for Bestival, Wireless, Outlook and international festivals, diversifying its market with the inclusion of acoustic artists and even launching its own music label Just Jam.
This year the company announced the launch of SB.TV News, an online youth-focused news service in partnership with the Press Association.
He’s interviewed royalty and politicians
Thanks to his irrepressible tenacity, Edwards has not only secured interviews with some of the biggest stars in the music world, but has been invited behind the doors of Downing Street. In the last few years, he has spoken to a number of high ranking politicians including prime minister David Cameron, and has interviewed Prince Charles at the Prince’s Trust Centre in Chatham.
Through this connection he has also become an ambassador of the Prince’s Trust, to help and inspire the next generation of young minds.
He has a marketing term named after him
In an article in The Independent in September 2013, the director of the Youth Media Agency – an umbrella organisation for 115 emerging youth media organisations – Susana Giner referred to the ‘Jamal Edwards effect’ to describe how the democratisation of digital media has opened up the doors of possibility to anyone.
Edwards himself is a shining example of this new breed of young, tech savvy media entrepreneurs, who don’t just take advantage of the available opportunities, but know how to make them their own in this new digital age.
You can get the lowdown on other influential entrepreneurs in this series, such as: