4,000 brilliant British business founders funded by Virgin StartUp

Richard Branson surprising Carley Read
Virgin StartUp
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 12 May 2021

Thrilled that Virgin StartUp has funded more than 4,000 founders to start their own businesses.

I’ve always believed there are many great ideas out there that just need a little help getting off the ground. It’s why we started our not-for-profit entrepreneurial hub, Virgin StartUp, which provides new businesses with loans, mentorship, and support to help them thrive.

It’s been heartening to see the research that Virgin StartUp has released today showing how the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit is bouncing back with a 19% rise in people creating their own companies compared with this time last year.

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

It also revealed that one in three Britons are dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur and setting up their own business. If you’re one of these people, Virgin StartUp has some great events and resources where you can get inspired and learn about the next steps.

There are also so many brilliant examples of businesses that are doing things differently to benefit their customers and communities. One of these is Y’earn, a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent baby & kids items from other people who may not need these items any more.

It was set up by Carley Read, who is Virgin StartUp’s 4000th founder – huge congratulations Carley! Back when Holly and Sam were kids, we borrowed and shared many toys, clothes and baby furniture from friends and family – so I think it’s a lovely idea to bring communities together and reduce waste.

Carley was having a chat with Virgin StartUp’s Managing Director Andy Fishburn when I dropped in to surprise her and learn more about her business.

She had a question about when is the right time to grow your business that I forgot to answer – sorry Carley! Here’s my belated answer below.

My advice to entrepreneurs looking to grow their business is to think big but start small. When we started Virgin Records more than 50 years ago, we began with one record shop on Oxford Street. We reinvested any money we made back into the business to explore more opportunities.


We grabbed opportunities with both hands – and not everything worked out, but we learned some great lessons along the way. The business grew into a recording studio and a record label, Virgin Atlantic followed and the Virgin Group expanded from there. Even today, we are always looking for exciting new opportunities that can benefit people and the planet. Whether this is investing in new technologies like Virgin Hyperloop or projects like BMR Energy, a solar wind farm in the Caribbean, we are always trying to move forward and keep pushing boundaries.

It’s great to see so many Virgin StartUp funded businesses growing and scaling. Change Please, founded by Cemal Ezal, is a great example. He started a coffee chain that trains homeless people to work as baristas and gives them a home and a job. Their coffee has been stocked on Virgin Trains, Virgin Atlantic and in our head office Virgin Management. It’s great to be able to use the Virgin brand to support these start-ups and help them scale their social impact.


Helping early stage founders to reach their next steps is so important – entrepreneurs are the innovator and the job creators. Founders have a great opportunity to create a positive impact in the communities in which they operate.

Congratulations Virgin StartUp for supporting 4,000 brilliant British business founders.