Make yourself the face of the business, and get on the front pages of the newspapers. That piece of advice, passed down by my mentor Sir Freddie Laker, has certainly been put to good use. Across 40 years in business, we’ve gone to great lengths to attract attention to the Virgin brand, and share our ideas with those that we believe could benefit from them.
We’ve flown a blimp over London, crashed a tank through Times Square, and dangled underneath a helicopter in Sydney Harbour. I’ve even abseiled in Las Vegas, splitting my trousers and injuring myself, as I dangled like a rag doll over the side of a casino. And I can’t even begin to recall all the crazy costumes I’ve worn over the years in the name of fun and over-the-top company launches. But today, in the age of social media campaigns, crowdsourcing and smartphones, there are even more ways to get your message out there.
richard branson launching virgin cola in a tank in new york city
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers that look to improve the lives of others, and most believe that they have at least one great idea that has the capacity to work not just locally, but on the global stage. The difficulty with this has often been in getting ideas out there to the right people. This is where the internet has unquestionably changed everything. With the internet, if you execute your plan well, millions of potential customers are just a click away. There’s never a simpler way to attract attention, and cross borders.
Two businesses who have done this well in recent years are Tinder and WeWork. What’s exciting about these businesses is that they combine a slick digital presence with the end result of physically bringing people closer together, be it through a first date or a meeting in a co-working space. I’m looking forward to joining the companies’ founders, Miguel McKelvey of WeWork and Sean Rad of Tinder, in Los Angeles, on Thursday February 18th, to discuss the art of making great business ideas work globally. I’m sure they’ll have some valuable tips for start-ups and established businesses alike.
Technology has not only enabled entrepreneurs to get great ideas out there at great speed, it’s also increased the efficiency of rooting out bad ones. If your new product or service isn’t up to scratch then you’re going to know about it sooner rather than later. We can only imagine what the reaction would have been like to some of our Virgin companies that didn’t quite make the grade.
But all would not have been lost. The internet doesn’t just shut down bad ideas; it provides a wonderful forum for feedback as to why the concept doesn’t work and what needs to be improved. Many of our successful Virgin businesses have grown from strength to strength since joining the online world – be it through e-commerce or social media. Feedback from our customers has been invaluable in strengthening and expanding the Virgin Group around the globe.
Technology has opened up the business world. There’s never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur with a great idea to share. While we’ll never give up our all-action marketing ways, we’re looking forward to working more and more with technology to share our ideas.
Join yours truly, Miguel McKelvey of WeWork, and Sean Rad of Tinder, on Thursday February 18th for discussion about: How ideas can be implemented across multiple regions to ease everyday life. Watch the livestream on virgin.com.
Our discussion will take place as part of Virgin Atlantic’s Business is an Adventure showcase, which is set to bring together some of business’ most brilliant minds, to reveal what it takes to thrive in today’s global market and how simple ideas can rock the world. Find out more about Business is an Adventure.