Surprising a young entrepreneur with Made By Dyslexia

Richard Branson sharing a virtual mentoring session with a young, dyslexic entrepreneur
Made By Dyslexia
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 17 June 2021

I’m always inspired by young entrepreneurs and dyslexic thinkers.  

Angus, an 11-year-old entrepreneur with dyslexia, asked me for some advice as part of my LinkedIn Newsletter about whether it’s better to explore lots of different business ideas or just stick to one. I decided to write him a letter in reply.

Richard Branson's handwritten letter to a young, dyslexic entrepreneur
Richard Branson

Angus is the founder of Croc Candy in Darwin, Australia. It’s a brilliant business that all started when Angus saw homeless people on TV and decided to run a fundraiser. His first candy market raised $20, and he has gone on win multiple awards, meet the Australian Prime Minister, sell his candy online, and support several different charities and community projects. Angus is also a young ambassador for Made By Dyslexia, which is on a mission to train more teachers to recognise, support and empower all dyslexic children. Given that one-in-five children are dyslexic, it’s so important to give these young people the support and opportunities they need to succeed in life.

Richard Branson's mentoring session with Angus and Made By Dyslexia

After our letter exchange, I surprised Angus with a one-on-one mentoring session to talk about his business pursuits and exchange our own experiences with dyslexia. I was really inspired to see how Angus embraces dyslexia as a strength and a superpower. When I was in school, people hadn’t really heard of ‘dyslexia’ and I just assumed I wasn’t very clever. I really struggled in school and I ended up dropping out at the age of 16. It wasn’t until I entered the real world that I realised dyslexia was one of my greatest strengths as it allowed me to think creatively and see solutions where other people saw problems. It’s wonderful to see that things have progressed and students like Angus are realising the advantages of dyslexia in school. There’s still a way to go though, which is why Made By Dyslexia’s mission is so important.

Angus Copelin-Walters smiles in the flight deck of a Virgin Australia plane
Angus Copelin-Walters

As I mentioned to Angus, my dyslexia helped shape Virgin from the very beginning. Imagination has been a key part of  Virgin’s success and my dyslexic thinking helped me to think big, but keep the messaging simple. I’ve also said that while nitty gritty details and data-driven decisions are important, it’s the ability to dream and to innovate that creates the best success.

I also gave Angus some general business advice that has been instrumental to Virgin’s success:

  1. Business is about making other people’s lives better, and all businesses should seek to solve problems. 

  2. Plan for the long-term and keep a clear five to 10 year vision in your mind.

  3. Trust your instinct and don’t be afraid to take risks. Saying ‘yes’ has taken me on some wonderful adventures in life.

  4. Gather great people around you, and make sure you put them first.

  5. Stick to your purpose and don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place.

It was so wonderful to meet Angus and to see how his adventurous spirit and dyslexic thinking is helping him to thrive. I hope it inspires many other young people to chase their dreams and see that it is our differences that make us great.

Join Made By Dyslexia in helping the world understand, value and support dyslexia.