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Sir Richard Branson on investing outside of his Virgin Group

The British billionaire family business founder and entrepreneur launches his new autobiography Finding My Virginity today. To celebrate, CampdenFB is delighted to publish an extract in which Sir Richard talks about his investment philosophy and what he would do if he had to start from scratch all over again.

The British billionaire family business founder and entrepreneur launches his new autobiography Finding My Virginity today. To celebrate, CampdenFB is delighted to publish an extract in which Sir Richard talks about his investment philosophy and what he would do if he had to start from scratch all over again.

Two of my favourite things are taking calculated risks and helping to grow businesses. I’ve built my career on these pillars with Virgin, but I have always made targeted investments outside the Group, too, such as the Twitter stake I mentioned earlier. More recently, these have developed into a full-blown venture capital strategy. Jonno Elliott and our investment team find innovative businesses at early stages and we take relatively small stakes to support their growth. The portfolio of more than thirty-five companies is always growing in areas ranging from health to education, technology to financial services. I am as inquisitive as ever, and believe if you have resources you should use them well.

Our investment policy is to support businesses we feel can make a positive difference. It’s foolish to do something just for financial gain – that usually ends in failure. Every household name today, from Pinterest to Slack (a couple of my other investments), had to start somewhere. The best, most purposeful start-ups are living, breathing examples to new generations that creativity, innovation and good honest hard work really can change the world for the better.

Whenever I speak to young people, or whenever I write on my blog, I’m determined to help turn more of those people looking for inspiration into the leaders who inspire the entrepreneurs of the future. My prominence online has other benefits, too, proving useful for discovering the most exciting start-ups for us to invest in. There is now a long line of ambitious entrepreneurs with bright ideas itching to share them with us. I am always more than happy to hear them out and do so on Necker, while travelling or online.

One question people ask me a lot is what I would do today if I lost all my money and had to start from scratch. My answer? To begin with, I’d have to make sure I went bust in the most spectacular, exciting failure in history. Then I’d autograph lots of £10 notes and sell them (hopefully for more!). Next, I’d go through all my notebooks, find the best ideas that had fallen through the cracks and start them up. While business may have changed from when I started out, the principles are the same and still fit what I am good at: finding markets that need shaking up, coming up with ways to make people’s lives better, then finding brilliant people to bring it to life. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. I know I’d find a gap in the market somewhere.


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