How Oranges Start a Business

Sir Richard Branson is the owner of Virgin Airlines, Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, and next month Virgin Voyages (his cruise line) and, well, everything Virgin. Branson is high Orange and his net worth is now over $8 billion. He specifically goes into businesses that have the worst customer service, or industries were others are losing a fortune. He then turns the industry thinking and approach upside down, makes a ton of money, and creates happy customers.

Here is a great insight into his business approach from an interview with Glenn Beck:

BECK: Your high school principal, correct me if I’m wrong, said: “You’re either going to end up in jail or you’re going to be a billionaire.” Why?


BRANSON: I think maybe he saw a little bit of a rebel in me and I suspect that’s why he said it.

BECK: What were you like? What were you like as a …


BRANSON: I mean, I — I was hopeless at school. I mean, I had no interests at all in conventional education. I didn’t like the way that we were being taught at school. I thought there must be a better way — a better way of teaching people, that schooling should be more interesting. So I questioned — I questioned a lot about the way things were being done.

I never had any interest in school. I thought school should be more interesting and I decided to leave at age 15. And so Virgin has been an appropriate name. Almost every industry we’ve gone into we’ve gone into from scratch and…

BECK: You were virgins at it…


BRANSON: We were virgins at it. And as you say, we also, you know, if we start a new airline somewhere in the world, we’ll try to take on cabin crew, not pilots, if you please note, cabin crew who haven’t necessarily worked for other airlines before. So they’ve come with — we train them and they come with a fresh approach.

BECK: How do you — how do you go from “Tubular Bells” to, “I want to run an airline”?

BRANSON: I was in Puerto Rico one day, and we — I got bumped off — off an airline. And I was desperate to get to the Virgin Islands. And I went backstage and got out, sort of, can I hire a plane. And I got a blackboard and I wrote, “$39 one way to Puerto Rico. And I went back out, and all the people there bought a one-way ticket to Puerto Rico, and Virgin was born. And there were lots of happy customers. And we actually made — I don’t think I divided the number of passengers quite rightly, so we made about $20 on the trip.”