Born in 1950, Richard Branson is a British business mogul and commercial astronaut. He made most of his wealth through his Virgin Group multinational venture capital conglomerate, which controls over 400 other companies in varying fields. In 2000, he was knighted for “services to entrepreneurship” at Buckingham Palace, cementing his place as one of the best to ever do it. Here are more fascinating facts about Richard Branson.
1. Richard Branson Dropped Out of School at 16 Years Old
When he was 16, Richard Branson stopped his education and started pursuing his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. He would begin his venture by launching a student magazine, which would later forge his path to becoming the owner of a large conglomerate of businesses.
2. Richard Branson Once Paid $180K for a Private Island that Was Listed for $6M
In 1978, Richard Branson bought Necker Island for only $180,000. The owner had listed it for $6M, and when Richard jokingly made an offer of $100,000, the owner settled for $180,000. Interestingly, the business magnate was only trying to impress his girlfriend when he bought this property. He ended up marrying her on the same island 11 years later.
3. Richard Branson Has a Very Low Business Failure Rate
According to Business Pundit, Richard Branson recalls starting over 100 businesses during his lifetime, with only 15 failing. Examples include Virgin Drinks and Virgin Clothing, which closed its doors in 2000. This is quite a commendable achievement, considering the markets are constantly fluctuating.
4. Richard Couldn’t Differentiate Gross Profit and Net Profit until He was in His 50’s
Despite successfully running a large group of private companies, Richard Branson admitted to not knowing the difference between net profit and gross profit during a TED talk. While this is impressive, it is unsurprising since he quit school at a tender age. Richard Branson only learned the difference between the two through an informal lesson from one of his executives.
5. Richard Branson Has Dyslexia
One of the reasons Richard Branson dropped out of school was because he had Dyslexia. This condition made it difficult for him to attain good grades, even though he was enrolled in one of the best private schools in Buckinghamshire called Stowe School. Richard Branson also later disclosed that he also has ADHD.
6. His Headmaster Told Him That He Would Either Become a Billionaire or End Up in Prison
On his last day of school, Richard’s headmaster told him that he would become a billionaire or eventually end up in prison. He became both; he is a successful entrepreneur and a former convict.
7. Richard Branson Worked as a Female Flight Attendant for 5 Hours
In 2011, during a Formula 1 race, Richard Branson and Tony Fernandes placed a bet where the loser would have to work as a female flight attendant on the other person’s airline. Richard Branson lost, and to everyone’s surprise, he put on makeup and fake lashes. He even shaved his legs to honor his end of the bargain; he served on an AirAsia flight for 5 hours. They turned this into a charity event, and $200,000 was donated to hospitalized children and their family members.
8. Richard Branson Once Appeared on the Popular TV Show “Friends”
During one of the London episodes of Friends, Richard Branson appeared for a few seconds as a souvenir seller. In that scene, he serves Joe on a stand packed with British merchandize.
9. Richard Branson Once Designed a Hot Air Balloon That Looked Like a UFO
As part of an April Fools prank in 1989, Richard had a hot air balloon designed to look like a UFO. He also had a dwarf dressed up in an extraterrestrial costume tasked with scaring anyone who came near the “UFO” once it landed.
10. Richard Branson Also Appeared in the Movie “Casino Royale”
If you are keen on the movie “Casino Royale”, you’ll notice Richard Branson getting frisked at the Miami Airport scene; Virgin Atlantic planes are also featured.
11. Richard Branson Has a Personal Vendetta against Ties
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Richard Branson narrates that nobody enjoys wearing ties, and men only wear them because they are forced to. Cases have been reported where the businessman has been seen walking around with a pair of scissors, cutting the ties of unsuspecting victims.
12. Richard Branson Was Among the First People to Cross the Atlantic Ocean in a Hot-Air Ballon
While Richard Branson is famous for his entrepreneurial exploits, his adventurous side is also commendable. In 1987, along with Per Lindstrand, Branson set the record for being the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot-air balloon. Four years later, the two successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean, setting a record for the longest distance covered in a hot air balloon (6,700 miles).
13. Richard Branson Didn’t Come from a Business-Oriented Family
Richard’s mom was a flight attendant, and the dad was a barrister. Therefore, Richard did not have business-oriented parents to look up to. Even his first line of business, venture mail orders, was unrelated to his parent’s careers.
14. He Owns an Airplane-Inspired Submarine
Among the many things that Richard Branson owns is an airplane-inspired submarine worth $660,000. One of its interesting features is its ability to fly and perform loops while controlled only by a joystick. It’s called the Necker Nymph and measures 15 feet long.
15. Branson Doesn’t Sit on the Board of Directors in Any of His Companies
Even though he owns more than 200 companies, Richard is not part of the board of directors in any of them. Richard considers himself an inventor; he only takes part in the creation process, and once a business has been launched, he steps aside.
16. In 1971, Richard Branson was Arrested for Tax Evasion
Like all other billionaires, Richard has had some tax issues in the past. In 1971, he was arrested for evading 33% of tax from Virgin Records. His parents paid his bail by upfronting their home. Later, Richard Branson cleared these arrears and launched more companies under the Virgin Group.