Kevin Jones, a senior and budding venture capitalist, is the kind of boss everyone dreams of having.
He is confident, cool and not in it for the money. He believes in the power of the media, but not in the misuse thereof, and is the facilitator of community-driven work. Jones is the founder of the independent collectivist magazine Viceroy. He is not simply an entrepreneur, he is a visionary.
From an early point in his life, Jones was schooled on various aspects of business management. He watched his parents build a company from the ground up and experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of growing a private business.
But the education that he gleaned from the family business did not come from standing on the sidelines. Jones’ parents urged him to become an active participant and that mindset has certainly followed him into adulthood.
“When I was 7 years old, I began working by folding boxes in my parents’ warehouse facilities for a nickel per box,” Jones said. “My parents are the most intelligent and diligent people I know. I learned a lot from them.”
Building on the foundation set by a family of exceptional entrepreneurs, Jones ultimately began to take on projects of his own. In 2008, he and two of his best friends started an event-planning company out of San Diego, which would work in the college and high school concert scene. The company hosted large-scale parties and shows for students and was the reality check that Jones was looking for.
“We had a few very successful events, but just as many failures,” he said. “It made me question if I really wanted to start my own company.”
Today Jones is in pursuit of an even more ambitious dream: to start and maintain a professional online magazine that will define a generation.
The magazine, titled Viceroy, is based on the idea of collective visions.
“Our goal is to feature USC students who are excelling in their respective spheres of influence, while administering a call for others to venture out and do the same,” Jones said.
Jones, alongside other USC students including Jessica Cymerman (Arts), senior Jason Heim (Sports), and sophomore Bryce Komae (Music), is currently developing and compiling contributions for monthly issues of the magazine, which is burgeoning at a rapid pace.
Nevertheless, the concept of Viceroy, although a business maneuver for Jones and his team, remains grounded in the idea of community. In other words, the mission statement of the magazine is not riddled with financial projections or edgy business strategies but is instead hoping to make money a byproduct of a shared creative process.
“Frankly, to say we are merely ‘social beings’ does not give enough credit to why we need community,” Jones said. “Try living a fulfilling life without other people; it can’t be done.
The purpose of Viceroy is to fill a void that money cannot mend, to inspire its writers and readers alike, and render money secondary to the over-arching aim of “dream realization.” Jones believes the best way to facilitate the dreams of a generation is through togetherness, and his selfless quest to design a publication that encourages pure collaboration and self-expression is the epitome of an artistic community.
“We are all members of different communities and I find it most fulfilling when we forge bonds that allow us to share affinities and empathize with one another,” Jones said. “Though I would still consider myself very self-centered, my desires started to change as I began to learn what it means to truly, unselfishly love other people, which almost always entails sacrificing my own agenda.”
What we find most often in the musings of successful individuals is that behind the rumors of reported egotism and superficiality, is a conflicted and surprisingly humble human being. This is not to say that Jones will ever be subjected to such misinterpretation, but, on the whole, entrepreneurs are stigmatized by the doings of a few bad apples.
We find in this case a confidently cool mover and shaker, with a sometimes self-critical view of himself.
“I wouldn’t say I have really strayed from this path,” Jones said. “But I do constantly doubt whether I am good enough to do this.”
Nonetheless, Jones, although doubtful in moments, is reassured and strengthened by the community that he has created.
If nothing else, Jones’ undying passion shows us that he is good enough — that we are all good enough.
Brian Ivie is a sophomore majoring in cinema-television critical studies. His column, “Dreammaking,” runs Tuesdays.