Striking the perfect balance

Keep Em Quiet kids entertainment pack for flights
Image from KeepEmQuiet
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 28 March 2019

In a series of recent interviews, I’ve been chatting to entrepreneurs from all walks of life, discussing what it takes to build a successful business from scratch. 

I want to get to the bottom of the longstanding question, are entrepreneurs born or made?

This month, I’m sharing the story of Carly and Dan, the husband and wife duo behind

Holly Branson with Carly and Dan, founders of Keep 'em Quiet
Image from Jackie McQuillan

I first found out about Keep Em Quiet through social media and have found the packs to be a bit of a godsend when travelling with Etta, Artie and Lola.

The business concept was born out of a ‘foggy brained moment’ when Carly and Dan were on their first holiday away with their ‘busy’ little three-year-old son and newborn daughter.

It’s not an easy age gap to navigate at the best of times, let alone on an international flight! Freddie and I can really empathise having two ‘busy’ four-year-olds and a newborn ourselves.

Holly Branson with children Etta, Artie and baby Lola
Image from Adam Slama

Carly was worried about how the kids would handle the flight and ended up spending a fortune in a frantic shopping spree, trying to find ways to keep the kids entertained on-board. 

After the flight, Carly was recovering on a sunbed in Spain and wondered aloud why no-one had developed customisable travel packs for kids.

Dan’s entrepreneurial mind began buzzing and, within the hour, he had already put the business plan in place, registered the domain name and started researching products for the travel packs.

As I listened to Dan and Carly talk about their journey and how the business came to be, it became clear they each brought opposing yet complementary entrepreneurial characteristics to the table.

Carly brought the creativity and the ideas; Dan had the audacity and the drive. Carly had the networking skills, while Dan had the spreadsheets sorted.

Carly and Dan’s story is a reminder that we should always play to our individual points of strengths and areas of passion.

Family sat on a stone wall by the beach
Image from KeepEmQuiet

It was also so inspiring to hear about two people who identified a problem, found a solution and turned an idea into reality, without hesitation or procrastination.  

To get an idea off the ground, you need to be able to take a leap of faith in spite of the paralysing fear of failure.  All of the incredible entrepreneurs I’ve chatted with so far have absolutely shown that ‘let’s just get this done’ spirit.  It is a trait I have always admired.

Ideas pop into my head all the time and I find myself thinking, “If only there was a product for this…” Then I jump to the next thing and forget about it.  

After interviewing entrepreneurs from all walks of life over the past year, I’ve noticed one trait that binds them all – an ability to trust their instinct, back themselves and take a leap of faith. This self-belief is incredibly empowering and inspiring to observe up close.  

Dan also discusses how work doesn’t seem like work when you pursue your passion. Responding to emails at midnight isn’t so bad with a glass of wine in hand. Carly and Dan remind us all that if you have a great idea and run with it, anything is possible.

Holly Branson smiles to the crowd on stage at WE DAY UK in 2020
Image by We Day UK

It was so wonderful to see a husband and wife team achieving so much together. Dan and Carly have been together since they were 17 and their marriage really reminded me of my own in a lot of ways.

I met Freddie in high school and he now works in the Investment team at Virgin Management. Our paths at work don’t cross over too much, but we still need to strike that perfect balance between time spent with the Virgin family and our own little family.

Although we have different ways of working – I’m very focussed on people and culture, whilst Freddie dives right into potential investment financials – it really just works.

We share the same passion for the same brand, but approach it from two different angles and bring different sets of ideas to the table. It keeps conversations at dinner interesting and it was fascinating to see a similar set of ‘yin and yang’ characteristics embodied in full force in these two entrepreneurs. 

Holly Bransons has her arm around Hackney Freddie, they are both wearing red Virgin Sport Fleeces
Image from Holly Branson

Do you think entrepreneurs are born or made?