8 businesses that transformed into what they are now

Richard Branson with Virgin Air flight attendants

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2. Virgin


In 1970, a 20-year-old Richard Branson was selling vinyl records by mail-order as a way to undercut high-street record shop prices. The company’s motto was: “We’re complete virgins at business.” A postal strike nearly derailed the venture, so Branson set up his own record shop in 1971, and then a record label which signed acts including Mike Oldfield and the Sex Pistols. Virgin Atlantic airlines was born in 1984, Virgin Radio in 1993 and Virgin Mobile in 1999. In 2004, Branson announced the beginning of a luxury space travel service – Virgin Galactic.

Branson sold off the record label that started it all for a rumoured US$1 billion in 1992, but the Virgin Group now reaches across the fitness industry, telecommunications,  cola, bridal wear, travel and financial services. There have been around 400 Virgin companies. No doubt more will follow.