Fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of music, Jervel Plaisir ’20GCCPS is working to provide developing artists and performers with a unique platform to present their music to the world.
The service, Wave Entertainment, took second-place honors at last year’s Pitch Johnny Competition, an annual contest in which St. John’s students present business ideas to a panel of judges consisting of professors and industry professionals. The final round of this year’s Pitch Johnny competition will be held online on Saturday, November 14. Voting for this year's competition is open to the public.
Wave focuses solely on up-and-coming acts. Unlike streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music, Wave will not be indebted to, or influenced by, major labels or agencies that typically only promote a select few musicians.
Jervel’s interest in fledgling artists dates back to high school, when he first felt a real connection to their music. “As I got closer to graduating high school and moved on to college, I found myself listening to many local and budding artists,” the native of Valley Stream, NY, said. “Their stories and emotion resonated with me at a much deeper level than mainstream music.”
He soon discovered that many of his go-to websites and streaming services pivoted toward mainstream artists, since record labels and management often influenced which artists were showcased.
“I finally got frustrated with the lack of support these artists receive,” he said. Jervel’s solution was to create his own streaming service. “Our name, Wave, originates from how rapidly new music is released, trends, and changes based on listener preferences. Our slogan, ‘Be Heard,’ originated from our mission and passion. We will provide those in need with a platform to be seen, acknowledged—and most of all, to be heard.”
As an undergraduate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jervel laid the foundation for Wave. Seeking to better prepare himself for the challenges of entrepreneurship, he enrolled in graduate school at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies and earned a master’s degree in Integrated Advertising Communication.
“My field of interest was marketing, entertainment, and music, and these industries are primarily located in New York or Los Angeles,” he said. “Since St. John’s is only 30 minutes from the city, I was able to intern at the world’s biggest record label, Atlantic Records.”
He continued, “While I was at St. John’s, I was working, developing my business, and interning, and was involved in extracurricular activities. I learned to be persistent, determined, and hardworking.”
Throughout his time at St. John’s, Jervel received advice and encouragement from Associate Professor Luca Iandoli. “I was still in the predevelopment phase at that point, so his excitement for my idea encouraged me to see who else would feel the same about Wave.”
“Jervel was a brilliant student who is pursuing his entrepreneurial dream of starting Wave,” said Professor Iandoli. “I had the opportunity to work with him and collaborate with some of my students to develop the platform.”
Inspired by Professor Iandoli and eager to gauge the viability of Wave from a business perspective, Jervel entered the Pitch Johnny competition in 2019, where he and other contestants were given three minutes to pitch their ideas to judges.
“I created a storyline about my business without any visuals,” he said. “I had to evoke emotions through a story while providing information that would entice a group of voters. It forced me to be the Chief Executive Officer I call myself.”
Jervel placed second, affirming his skills as a presenter, as well as the feasibility of Wave. The process served as a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship.
“Through Pitch Johnny, as well as my master’s program, I learned to focus on the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ of pitching and selling,” he said. “When you can connect with the audience and tell them the story, you bring them along with you.”
Hours after the competition, Jervel boarded a flight to the Netherlands, where he joined more than 900 other international students at Global Entrepreneurship Week. There, Jervel was part of a team of other young entrepreneurs at the Wicked Ideation Battle Rotterdam challenge and took home top honors for a pitch that focused on transforming the education of entrepreneurs.
“The time that I spent with my peers and fellow competitors confirmed that we are the future,” he said. “We have a hand in changing our society.”
Today, as he prepares to launch Wave in late 2020 or early 2021, Jervel works as a media planner at Gamut. Smart Media from Cox in Manhattan. “Developing a brand and working eight or more hours daily in a full-time role can be draining,” he said. “Sleep is not something I get in large quantities.”
Even though he is only months removed from being a student himself, Jervel is eager to share what he has learned with tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. He employs a number of student interns from St. John’s who focus on social media marketing and outreach and has been a guest speaker at the University.
“I plan to use what I know to continue my endeavors while I help others build paths of their own,” he said. “I am happy to pass along my knowledge to those who desire to start something for themselves.”
“Jervel is an outstanding young entrepreneur and wisely took advantage of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship classes and activities here at St. John’s,” said Kevin James ’11C, ’13MBA, Assistant Dean, Associate Director of Operations, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies. “He is now becoming a young mentor to current students who are following in his footsteps. He recently came back to my Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship course with an early demo of Wave. Jervel is the real deal!”