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There was the Vietnamese war, was waging
and I was against the Vietnamese war,
I was 15 years old.
I decided to start the magazine to campaign against it,
it was called "Student" and it became this sort of
national magazine for young people.
The magazine didn't make much money, but 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 to 60 percent off any album or 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 had 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 number one 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 in the record business.
A big hit album could sell 10 to 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
and 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 dollars" to the Virgin Islands,
walked around all the people who had been bumped and 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,
so 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.
It's people who try to be second best 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.
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.
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