‘My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had - everyday I’m learning something new’

‘Screw it, let’s do it’

From canal barge to spaceship. Richard Branson began Virgin Records back in 1972 selling LPs from a canal boat moored in Chelsea Harbour, London. His breakthrough success was Mike Oldfield’s record Tubular Bells the following year, which went on to sell 15 million copies worldwide.

Virgin Records went on to become the cool label of the punk and New Wave movement, signing artists including the Sex Pistols, Magazine, the Ruts, Simple Minds and XTC. Branson even went on the sign the Rolling Stones themselves in 1991.

However, the music industry wasn’t enough for Richard Branson, who by now with his toothy smile and leonine beard had become the most famous entrepreneur in Britain. Soon the Virgin brand was extended to health clubs, the railway and, most famously, transatlantic travel, where Virgin Atlantic shook up the airline industry.

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In 2004 Richard Branson announced that he wanted to go even higher, going into orbit with his Virgin Galactic, whose first passenger flight – with Branson himself aboard – launched in July this year.

Branson’s have-a-go mantra of “Screw it, let’s do it” became the title of his bestselling business book in 2006.