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Pioneer of the Week: Richard Branson from Virgin

Community Manager

Pioneer of the Week: Richard Branson from Virgin

In happier times before the catastrophic devastation wreaked by hurricane Irma, for which Virgin have launched the British Virgin Islands Community Support Appeal, we caught up with pioneering entrepreneur Richard Branson.


Introduce you and your business in one sentence.

Pioneer of the Week - Richard Branson (25 September 2017).pngRichard BransonIt’s called Virgin, and started off as Virgin Records back in the seventies. You’ve probably seen a few of our businesses around.


Tell us two interesting facts about you.

  • When I started Virgin I lived on a houseboat in London called Duende, which means ‘a quality of passion and inspiration’.
  • I recently gave up one of my favourite foods, beef, because I'm concerned how meat consumption today contributes to global warming and environmental degradation.


How did you start your business?

Out of a phonebox. No, not the TARDIS; The Doctor’s quite protective of it. A traditional red one, outside my school, where I set up a magazine called Student. And that’s why I’ve now got a phonebox installed on Necker Island.


What made you start your business?

I had to! I dropped out of school at 16 because, unfortunately, my dyslexia was treated as a handicap. Teachers thought I was lazy and dumb, and I couldn’t keep up or fit in. I’m in good company though: Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs were all dyslexic too and we now campaign with Made by Dyslexia to celebrate the positive difference dyslexics can make in the world.


What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

Having great people to lead. Whatever your style, whatever your method, you need to believe in yourself, your ideas and your staff. Nobody can be successful alone.


What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

There have been many, but one that comes to mind is Virgin Cola. We took on the might of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, with tiny budgets and a lot of creativity. Eventually, Coke used their financial power to stop us in our tracks, but we had a lot of fun and learnt a lot along the way.


Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?

I was travelling to meet my future wife, when my flight was cancelled. It left a few hundred of us stranded at a small island airport. So, I went to the back of the airport and chartered plane, then divided the cost of the plane by the number of seats. I wrote Virgin Air on a board, charged the stranded passengers $39 to rebook their seats, and that got me into the flying business!


Where do you work from?

Everywhere. Have a notebook on you and you’ll never miss a moment to make a difference. Building a loved brand doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, effort, patience and an obsession with details, details and more details.


What do you wish you knew when you first started in business?

No one has a monopoly on good ideas or good advice, so as a leader you should always be listening. Be visible, note down what you hear and you’ll be surprised how much you learn.


What are your three top tips for your industry?

  1. Whatever industry you are in, know your brand, know what it stands for and stick with it. Details make a difference.
  2. You don’t need to wear a tie to be taken seriously in business.
  3. Oh, and finally my favourite saying: ‘Screw it, let’s do it!’


What would you like to ask the Voom Pioneers community?

What drives you to be your own boss?


The drive to be my own boss brings lots of challenges and finding solutions. It is rewarding because we work together with our staff, our customers and our competitors. We always value their feedback so we can find ways to improve. Our staff love their jobs as if it were their own business and the respect they give to our customers and the service they offer helps make a positive difference in our community. It takes a lot of hard work to find this balance and being your own boss, you have to find innovative ways to make your work place a happier place! This harmony can only be achieved by working together  and helping people.

Community Manager

Brilliant points @Jotty

For those new to the VOOM Pioneers community, can you tell us a little about your business? What keeps you driving forward?


Thank you @EmmaDingle@stone2paper@Anoop90 for your Kudos. It is appreciated very much!


Well Connected

I enjoy creating a business out of my idea. The freedom that comes with being able to do what you love to do and make some money whilst you are at it gives me the drive

Thought Leader

My drive is success, but to me this isn't just about money but lifestyle and family.  My business is still in its infancy however with my passion for my profession and motivation to provide a great service I believe I'm going in the right direction. 


Great to hear about your passion and drive! Wish you all the luck! If you need any help, please don't hesitate to ask !



  • 8 kudos