Richard Branson: The US Deserves An Entrepreneur As President, Just Not Trump
Billionaire Richard Branson is a champion of entrepreneurship and said he would love to see a business person as president of the United States–just not the current Republican nominee.
On Monday, the founder of Virgin Group kicked off the FORBES 30 Under 30 Summit in Boston, by explaining why he decided to endorse Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump, who he labeled “a disaster” in a blog post last week.
“One day, it would be wonderful to have an entrepreneur run this great country and really oversee the world,” he said from Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “But not this particular entrepreneur.”
While he giggled at the idea that he might serve as a better option than Trump despite the fact that he’s British, Branson used most of his time on stage to reminisce about his accomplishments. Speaking to the crowd of young entrepreneurs, he emphasized the importance of showmanship and being “cheeky” when starting a business. He noted that he founded airline Virgin Atlantic 32 years ago, a daunting prospect at the time given that he only had one plane and no brand recognition.
“There was the transatlantic boating record… and crashing hot air balloons,” he said, recalling his crazy stunts to promote his travel company. “I did everything to get known.”
Now worth $4.9 billion, Branson also emphasized his appetite for risk when peppered by FORBES Editor in Chief Randall Lane about his various stunts. In another stunt, he recalled how he had Virgin Atlantic blimps fly over a Super Bowl game while flying flags that read “NBC CAMERAMEN ARE THE HOTTEST” in order to get attention and airtime during the event.
“If you’re not willing to take a risk, you’re not an entrepreneur,” said Branson.
Branson was later joined on stage by three 30 Under 30 members–Tyler Haney, founder of Outdoor Voices; Payal Kadakia, CEO of ClassPass; and James Proud, CEO of Hello, Inc.–who fielded crowd questions about starting their businesses. On the subject of people being born entrepreneurs, all agreed that that was simply a myth.
“It’s dangerous to think that people are born entrepreneurs,” said Proud, whose company creates a sleep tracking device. “It shuts it off for a lot of people who say, ‘Oh I can’t do that.’ All that really matters is that you learn quickly.”
The founders also discussed how their friends and family perceived their decisions to start their businesses. Proud told his family that he was starting his first company and not going to the university the day he was supposed to enroll, while Branson recalled pacing around a garden with his father at the age of 15 in an attempt to convince him that starting a record store was the right move for him.
Kadakia said the decision to start ClassPass was one of the most difficult in her life as she weighed the fact that her parents and immigrated from India and given up their lives for her to be successful. She had gone to MIT and was worked at Bain and Company.
Eventually she “got them believing,” she said. “My mom was the one that told me to quit.”