Success Story - Richard Branson

Richard Branson, according to the Forbes, is the 4th richest person in the United Kingdom with an estimated net worth of over $4.2 billion as of 2011. Branson (born July 18, 1950) began this accumulation of wealth at the early age of 16 when he began publishing a magazine named Student. The Student Magazine, somewhat eerily, was run out of the crypt of an old church and in 1970 he began using the magazine as an advertisement vehicle to sell mail-order records for considerably less than local retailers at the time. The venture was an overnight success that soon became branded as “Virgin,” at the suggestion of one of Branson’s early employees—as they were all new to the business. The Virgin moniker has stuck through most of Branson’s business ventures to this day.

 

In early 1972 Branson started a record shop on Oxford Street in London. Later that year he expanded the venture to a chain of record stores called Virgin Records, later to be known as Virgin Megastores.

Virgin Megastores generated enough income in its first year of operation that Branson was able to purchase a country estate in which he installed a recording studio. From this property he then launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell. The entrepreneurs leased studio time to up and coming artists in the area and in 1973 Virgin Records' first release became a chart-topping best-seller. The album was the debut release “Tubular Bells” from multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield.

 

Richard Branson then embarked on a quest to turn the controversial into cash. Virgin Records signed on controversial bands other record companies were afraid to touch such as the Sex Pistols, Faust and Can as well as the Culture Club to name a few. In the early 1980s Branson took the controversial card one step further with his purchase of the gay nightclub “Heaven” and his first, as well as only, attempt at record production-- the novelty record "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep", by Singing Sheep. The single was recorded with a percussion machine along with a recording of a series of sheep baaing. Believe it or not, the single actually came in at number 42 on the charts in 1982. This is not to say everything Richard Branson delved in was controversial in that time period. Branson also formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984 and during the remainder of the decade the Virgin brand grew rapidly through both the record label and the airways. Writing in his autobiography in relation to his airline venture Branson wrote “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.”

 

To keep Virgin Atlantic Airways going, in 1992 Branson had to sell the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million. He was quite saddened by the sale because Virgin Records had been the foundation on which his other ventures had grown. Once Virgin Atlantic Airways was solvent again, Branson formed V2 Records to re-enter the music business. This decade also marks the beginning of the diversification process for the Virgin Group of companies.

 

The first step in the process was an expansion of his transportation holdings. In 1993, Branson entered the railway business with the formation of Virgin Trains. Virgin Trains quickly won the contracts for the former Intercity West Coast and Cross-Country sectors of British Rail. In 1996, Richard Branson began diversifying geographically when he acquired European short-haul airline Euro Belgian Airlines and renamed it Virgin Express. Later, in 2006 to be exact, Virgin Express would merge with SN Brussels Airlines forming Brussels Airlines and Branson would also start a national airline based in Nigeria-- Virgin Nigeria. In 2007, Virgin America would begin flying out of San Francisco International Airport. In 1999 Richard Branson launched Virgin Mobile, his first venture into the communication industry, and a quite successful one at that. This is not to say every venture was successful, Virgin Cola brand and Virgin Vodka brand were two undertakings of the time period that couldn’t get off the ground, so to speak. The last addition to the process took place in the year 2000 with the development of Virgin Blue in Australia-- now called Virgin Australia.

  

Never afraid to try something “a little off” (or controversial for that matter) Branson announced a deal in 2004 involving a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. In partnership with Microsoft co-Founder Paul Allen and designed by American aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan the space tourism company will take paying passengers into suborbital space for $200,000 a pop. Richard Branson next venture is a little more down to earth in the form of alternative fuels or Virgin Fuels. Branson once a skeptic of global warming and climate change was convinced differently after breakfasting with Al Gore.  Virgin Fuels will be offering a revolutionary, cheaper fuel for automobiles and in the near future aircraft, to exploit the inevitable rise in fossil fuels and combat global warming. In 2006, Richard Branson said he plans to invest the profits from both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains into research for environmentally friendly fuels, an amount that is estimated to be more than $3 billion. Will these two ventures pay off for Branson?—or is someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes. That is a matter of controversy that only the future can tell. But then sometimes controversy pays off very well, in fact you could build an empire on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Company : 1902 Media