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Video transcript

- There was the Vietnamese War was waging, and I was against the Vietnamese War. I was 15 years old. I decided to start a magazine to campaign against it. It was called Student, and it became sort of the national magazine for young people. The magazine didn't make much money, but it got a big circulation, about 100,000 young people bought the magazine. And one day, I took an advert in the magazine, Virgin Records, 10-60% off any album on any label, and listed the kinds of records we liked. Things like Frank Zappa rather than Andy Williams. And so it became very much the rock and roll mail order company. And then we started signing our own bands. Bands that we couldn't get other record companies to release, we released ourselves. There are bands everywhere that want to be found. It's finding the right ones. And I had a 15 year old boy called Mike Oldfield come to me with a tape called Tubular Bells, which he'd recorded all the tracks himself. I literally went to another record company, borrowed an artist called Sandy Denny's contract. And we typed out the contract. You know, we managed to get The Exorcist to take the music. And that took it #1 in America. It became a phenomenal success. Moved on and signed bands like The Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones, and a lot of other iconic, great bands. In those days, there was quite a lot of money to go around the record business. You know, a big hit album could sell 10, 15 million albums. We went into the airline business because I had record companies all over the world and I was traveling a lot on other people's airlines. There was one time I took a flight from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands, and I got bumped by American Airlines. And chartered a plane. And I came out with a blackboard and for fun, I wrote Virgin Airlines, $29 to the Virgin Islands. Walked around to all the people who'd been bumped. I filled up my plane. And then as I was landing, somebody said to me, "Sharpen up the service a bit, "and you could go into the airline business." And I've started three or four airlines. Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Australia. And they've all gone really well. And the reason they've gone well is because they're the best airlines in their field. And if you're the best hotel or the best shop or the best club or the best airline, you survive. People who try to be second best, which who normally stumble. The key to our success is to offer people much more than they'd expect. So we offer a much better than first class product for our upper-class passengers, but we charge a business-class fare. We offer a class above what people would expect. We do lots of nice little things which surprise people. You know, just little things like, we give people an ice cream when they're watching a movie or popcorn. Or we have a limousine to and from the plane for our business-class passengers. And we put seat-back videos in our planes six years before anybody else did. We're smaller, we're more nimble. We're from the entertainment business so we know that people like to be entertained. Virgin is always evolving. I start businesses, not because I think I'm going to make money at a business. I'm not particularly interested in that. I start businesses because I think I can make a real difference. The main thing to remember though, is if you do go out to start a business, most people fail, but most people also pick themselves up and try again and again until they finally succeed.