will.i.am: Untold Entrepreneur Success Story
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy as it’s often a frustrating rollercoaster of ups and downs. But then being a celebrity offer a similar journey.
Is that why celebrities often find it easy venturing into business? Or is it because of their star power? will.i.am’s entrepreneurship journey is a remarkable one.
will.i.am, a member of Black Eyed Peas has had a really good career. The group was made up of will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, Kim-hill, Sierra Swan, and Fergie at different times.
In fact, the group at the peak of their power were one of the most talked-about in the music world. With over 75 million records sold, they were indeed a powerhouse.
“I gotta feeling…that tonight gonna be a…” or “people killin’, people dyin’
children hurt and you hear them cryin’…where is the love…”. If you ever sang along to those lines then you know who black-eyed peas are.
Enough about the group. We are here for the remarkable transition of the leader of the group, will.i.am’s from a musician to a successful entrepreneur.
William James Adams Jr. was born on March 15, 1975. He is known professionally as will.i.am but also goes by will 1x, Zuper Blahq, and illwilly.
He is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and actor. He is also the founder and leader of the musical group, Black Eyed Peas.
Growing up, he never knew his father. His childhood was spent in a low-income neighbourhood with his mother. The first person who recognized his dream and gave him support was his mother.
For him to reach her lofty dreams of him, she enrolled him in better public schools around the west side of Los Angeles, where he got the opportunity and stage to be who he is now.
When will.i.am reached high school he discovered his passion for music. Black Eyed Peas was initially founded by will.i.am and apl.de.ap has a dance group. They would later transition into a rap duo.
A few record deals and member additions and we have the Black Eyed Peas that we all love and adore today.
will.i.am’s Path To Success As An Entrepreneur
To will.i.am, innovation was second nature. This idealistic nature of him is what lead him to secure a great deal with Intel. He was named director of creative innovation in 2011.
His entrepreneur story began with him designing his digital camera, foto.sosho camera, for iPhone which had a more powerful lens than the regular cameras at the time.
He didn’t design these cameras because he suddenly had an enlightenment that people would appreciate his product. It is because he thought it would help him shoot better photos for himself.
The foto.sosho camera covers the back of the device and had an impact on how its cameras functioned. His hardware converted the built-in 8-megapixel camera to a 14-megapixel camera with added filters and lenses. Not only that, it came with a keyboard that helps with sharing and tagging pictures taken by the phone.
This innovative idea earned a collaboration with an app similar to Instagram, the now popular social media platform.
His ideas and creativity didn’t stop there. He collaborated with Coca-Cola in launching the Ekocycle project, which had the idea of manufacturing products with recycled materials. This shows that his ambition and creativity wasn’t bounded in profit-making routes only.
By collaborating with one of the biggest company in the world, he paved the way in building a sustainable eco-friendly environment, and people appreciated and admired that.
This movement inspired people to recycle but was also a highly profitable movement at the same time. The earnings shared by the company and him was later donated to their favourite charities.
will.i.am’s love for charity has seen him award a whooping sum of $550k to 37 scholars through his i.am Scholarships program.
Other investments of his are Shellano Group, in Honest dollar, and in a Music Messenger called Series A round. He invested about $13m in all three companies. $5m in Shellano, $3m in Honest Dollar and $5m in Series A respectively.
He was also a founding shareholder in the largest headphone manufacturer, Beats Electronics. Wow indeed!
In 2017, he linked up with Atom, a Durham based app-only startup bank. He was named as a strategic board advisor.
His entrepreneurship journey has seen him create more than 150 jobs through his companies.
His path wasn’t all successful, some projects of his failed. For instance, he had an idea of launching a social media platform for fans of music called DipDive. This was a collaboration work with iPhone.
When he asked about the possibility of this idea failing, he gave the following response, “Well, then I’ve made something cool for myself.”
Even though the idea was a failure, people labelled him as a bold risk-taker. It showed that he is not just an entertainer but a multifaceted individual. He showed that the musicians are more than what people perceived them to be.
People used to think that artists or musicians were only creative in their respective fields. To those who think like that, will.i.am is a perfect example that shows that musicians can also embody the intellect and entrepreneurship character towards success.
Don’t forget he is the first artist to send a song to Mars in collaboration with NASA’s Curiosity Mars Space Lab. I guess you can say he is an out of this world thinker.
In 2021, wil.i.am in partnership with Honeywell launched a Bluetooth mask with the brand name Xupermask.
Xupermask is an evolutionary new era smart masks. It combines face technology with integrated audio engineering to bring safety, enjoyment, and pleasure to users.
7 Important Lessons Everyone Can Learn From will.i.am
- Your background, race, creed, or affluence can’t stop you from reaching your goals.
- Obstacles and hindrances you face are what you make of them.
- Here is the formula for success: planning + ambition = success. After you reach one goal plan another one. Every success should be a cycle.
- Failure shouldn’t stop your ambition.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. Changes you make to attain success, should also be impacting your team positively as well.
- Be an evolving person. The world constantly changes, so you must stay open-minded.
- Have an inclusive road to success. Always give back to the community.
Success should not be labelled as for the destined. Commitment, hardwork and vision will get you anywhere you want. will.i.am had his goals clear and concise and used up opportunities he got along the way to be who he is today.
From designing cameras to investing in startups, he has shown an entrepreneurship range we never expected of him.
The road to success is a high road filled with hope and despair. But the end will always justify the means.