Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies. He is one of the wealthiest people in the world with a net worth of $5 billion.
Richard Branson struggled with dyslexia and performed poorly in school. At the age of 16, Branson decided to quit school- a decision that ultimately lead to the creation of Virgin Records. His entrepreneurial projects started in the music industry and expanded into other sectors making Branson a billionaire. His Virgin Group holds more than 400 companies, including Virgin Galactic, a space-tourism company. Branson is also known for his adventurous spirit and sporting achievements, including crossing oceans in a hot air balloon.
Success Story of Richard Branson
Richard Branson was born on July 18, 1950 in Surrey, England. His father, Edward James Branson was a barrister and his mother, Eve Branson, was a flight attendant. Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School until the age of 13. He then attended Stowe School until the age of 16. Branson did not have a perfect childhood. As a young man, he struggled with dyslexia and performed poorly in school. Branson’s teacher thought he was lazy and not very clever. He couldn’t always follow what was going on in school and he dreamed of things he could do once he left.
“Back when I was in school, few people understand dyslexia and what to do for it.” Branson explained in an e-mail exchange. “My teacher thought I was lazy and not very clever, and I got bored easily thinking of all the things I could do once I left school. I couldn’t always follow what was going on. One of my last days at school, the headmaster said I would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. That was quite a prediction, but in some respects he was right on both counts.”
At the age of 16, Branson decided to quit school to begin his first successful entrepreneurial activity. His first business venture was a youth culture magazine called The Student. The publication, run by students for students, sold $8000 worth of advertising in its first edition, which was launched in 1966. The first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free, after Branson covered the costs with advertising.
By 1969, Branson was living in a London commune, surrounded by the British music and drug scene. It was during this time that Branson had the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine efforts. The company performed modestly, but made Branson enough that he was able to expand his business venture, adding a record shop in Oxford Street, London. With the success of the record shop, he was able to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.
In 1972, Branson launched the record label, Virgin Records, the first company in the vast Virgin Empire that rules the business world today. His first artist on the Virgin Records label, Mike Oldfield, recorded his single “Tubular Bells” in 1973 with the help of Branson’s team. The song was an instant smash, staying on the UK charts for 247 weeks. Using the momentum of Oldfield’s success, Branson then signed other aspiring musical groups to label, including the Sex Pistols. Artists such as the Culture Club, the Rolling Stones, and Genesis would follow, helping to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world.
In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for $1 billion. Branson said that he wept when the sale was completed because the record business had been the very start of the Virgin empire. In 1996 he created V2 Records to re-enter the music business.
In 1984, Branson started his biggest business venture, the ‘Virgin Atlantic Airways.’ Branson wrote in his autobiography of the decision to start an airline:
“My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them… from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.”
Branson’s Virgin Group now holds more than 400 companies in more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe and South Africa. He has expanded his business to include a train company, a luxury game preserve, a mobile phone company and a space-tourism company, Virgin Galactic.
Branson’s next venture with the Virgin Group is Virgin Fuels, which is set to respond to global warming and exploit the recent spike in fuel costs by offering a revolutionary, cheaper fuel for automobiles and, in the near future, aircraft.
My philosophy is that if I have any money I invest it in new ventures and not have it sitting around.
In recent years, the adventurous and ambitious Branson has focused much of his attention on his space tourism venture. On 25 September 2004, Branson announced that Virgin Galactic will license the technology behind Spaceship One- funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by legendary American aeronautical engineer and visionary Burt Rutan to take paying passengers into suborbital space. Virgin Galactic plans to make flights available to the public with tickets priced at US$200,000.
Branson is also known for his sporting achievements. Branson has challenged himself with many record breaking adventures, including the fastest ever Atlantic Ocean crossing, a series of hot air balloon adventures and kite surfing across the English Channel.
My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, “Oh God, I’ve got to do this today.”
In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small, dedicated group of leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts. In July 2007, Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders, which is independently funded by a group of donors, including Branson and Gabriel. The Elders use their collective skills to catalyse peaceful resolutions to long-standing conflicts, articulate new approaches to global issues that are causing or may cause immense human suffering, and share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world. In 1999, Branson became a founding sponsor of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (“ICMEC”), the goal of which is to help find missing children, and to stop the exploitation of children.
Honours and awards
1993 – Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University
2000 – ‘Tony Jannus Award’ for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation
2007 – Time Magazine, ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in the World’
2007 – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes
2011 – German Media Prize, previously handed to former US president Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama
2011 – Branson was awarded the ISTA Prize by the International Space Transport Association in The Hague for his pioneering achievements in the development of suborbital transport systems with “Virgin Galactic”
2012 – National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ President’s Merit Award for his contributions to the music industry
2013 – Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University in Kaunas, Lithuania
2014 – Business for Peace Award
2014 – The Sunday Times, ‘the most admired business person over the last five decades’
Richard Branson’s Autobiography
Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
SEE ALSO: 30 Powerful Richard Branson Quotes
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