6 entrepreneurs who shook off criminal records to dominate the business world

5. Jamal Edwards

Looking at 25-year-old SBTV founder Jamal Edwards today, a man awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace, and you’d have no idea he was arrested as a teenager.

Having grown up on an estate in Acton, West London, Edwards had a trouble-free upbringing – something his mother saw to.

However, an altercation at school resulted in his arrest. A play fight saw a student spray deodorant into Edwards’ face, which prompted him to retaliate – by grabbing a nearby chair and smashing it into the toiletry-wielder’s face.

“The next thing I knew, a police car pulled up in the playground and I was being arrested and taken away,” he said.

Edwards was stripped, forced to sit in a cell, and had to ring his mum to explain what had happened, which he claimed was a wake-up call.

He revealed: “That was the point when I realised I didn’t want this to be me. Mum was so upset; I could tell she was really disappointed.”

The only was up after that and after Edwards received a videocamera for Christmas when he was 15, the concept for entertainment business SBTV, which is highlighted as the platform that jumpstarted the career of Ed Sheeran, was born.

He would record local rappers and then upload the videos onto YouTube, which was just one-year-old at the time, in a bid to challenge MTV.

“It was a frustration of going to school and everyone talking about: ‘How do we get our videos on MTV?,” he recalled.

“Everyone was looking at me like, ‘What are you doing, like you can compete with these major corporations’ but I think I was early enough to believe that I could make a change.”

Edwards is now worth an estimated £8m, counts Richard Branson as a pal and was named an MBE this year.


6. Frank W. Abagnale

Frank Abagnale has advised and worked with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies globally, and is considered a respected authority forgery, embezzlement and secure documents.

That’s because he used to be responsible for forgery, embezzlement and penetration of secure documents.

In fact, his status as a world-famous conman was depicted by none other than film royal Leonardo DiCaprio in Hollywood movie Catch Me If You Can, which also starred Tom Hanks and was directed by Steven Spielberg.

It was adapted from Abagnale’s best-selling book of the same name, which has also been transformed into a broadway musical.

During his time on the wrong side of the law, Abagnale impersonated an airline pilot, doctor and assistant attorney general, and cashed in fraudulent cheques worth more than $2.5m.

His scamming days came to a close when he was just 21, having been caught by the French police, while international exploits meant time in prisons across France, Switzerland and the US.

A deal was struck after five years and freedom was granted to Abagnale on the condition he would aid the federal government by teaching and assisting law enforcement agencies – without pay.

Abagnale has now had his programmes used by more than 14,000 corporations and he works as a lecturer and consultant.

According to his company website, it “does not sell products or provide services with the exception of his public speaking engagements which are handled through Keppler Speakers in Washington, DC”.

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