Many were introduced to Jaden Smith via his role in Karate Kid, in which he played a determined youngster looking to fight his school bully. Since the 2010 movie, Jaden has emerged a successful artist but also a successful entrepreneur, particularly in the realm of sustainability, having started two companies in the space.
Jaden founded his first company, JUST Water, in 2012. Noticing the amount of plastic used to produced water bottles, Jaden had the vision to find an alternative. That alternative became a paper-based bottle with a cap made from sugarcane. And with that, JUST was formed. But Jaden didn’t just end there. Following up his work with JUST, Jaden started a foundation, 501CThree, which currently provides “a low-cost portable water filtration system” to residents of Flint, Michigan, and hopes to serve as a coalition of individuals all working together to combat sustainability issues.
But Jaden’s successful entrepreneurial career is no surprise. With his music and work in business, Jaden propels his success with a combination of his music platform and his impact-focused mindset.
Altogether, three essential factors define Jaden’s success.
Appeal to Gen Z
At just 20 years old, Jaden has already written several hit songs, including Icon, which has over 100 million streams on YouTube, started a record label backed by Jay Z, as well as one company prior to 501CThree. With all of his success in the music industry combined with his interest in starting companies since 2012, Generation Z has the propensity to see Jaden Smith as a thought leader in many respects.
To young people, it’s always refreshing to see other young people changing the world. Take, for instance, the students behind March for Our Lives, one of the most impactful movements in our modern day. Being completely student-run, seeing students take the initiative to solve big problems adds fuel to the flame.
This is especially true when it comes to the issue of sustainability. In fact, Gen Z is willing to pay a 10-15% markup on sustainable products, according to Adweek. This is a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen before with any other generation.
When it comes to the issue of sustainability, Jaden has been spot-on. He told CA Technologies in a 2017 interview that he “saw so much plastic out in the world” and wanted to do something about it. As of recent, companies and cities are working hard to tackle the plastic problem. For instance, Los Angeles recently approved an ordinance to restrict the usage of plastic straws. Cities like San Francisco have completely banned them.
When it comes to the issue of providing clean drinking water to Flint, this is an area that even politicians have faltered in. Jaden’s team, on the other hand, is leading the way in making an affordable filtration system for Flint’s residents.
In short, the timing of Jaden’s ventures is impeccable. He recognizes the elephant in the room and acts quickly to attempt to solve those problems.
Being successful in business is all about recognizing the right opportunities, but also executing consistently. That’s what Jaden has done. His ideas don’t just stay as ideas – they’re turned into meaningful projects that end up impacting people directly.
In a campaign Jaden did through 501CThree, he responds to the water crisis in Flint with “they need to have a backbone for them to rely on,” and with that, delivers The Water Box, a filtration system that allows for Flint’s residents to not have to drink the contaminant water right from the tap.
When Jaden sees a community in need, he thinks of a sustainable solution. And that’s why the Flint community can get behind him too – because he and his family helped them in a time of need.
And with the help of his platform, Jaden continues to spread the word about Flint’s water problem. That’s where his music platform pays off, as he’s able to reach millions of people online to amplify his messages.
As Jaden’s entrepreneurial career continues to grow, it will be no surprise to see him continue to tackle difficult challenges pertaining to sustainability. The Flint water crisis is just one crisis of many, and there are many other communities impacted in different ways.
But from Jaden’s story, it’s important to recognize the importance of collaboration. Because that’s what makes Jaden’s work meaningful.
Steven is an Editor for the Politics section at The Rising and a Computer Science student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.