Branson’s tips for young entrepreneurs

February 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Branson’s tips for young entrepreneurs

By Andy Richardson

ASK a billionaire jetsetter: “What have you got planned for the rest of the week?” and you risk being left to reflect on your own humdrum existence.

At the end of an interview with Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Money’s swish HQ in Newcastle, which has a tropical fish tank centrepiece in its plush reception area, an exchange of pleasantries led to one journalist asking him where he was off to next. “I’m flying to South Africa tonight to take part in a 120km bike ride near Cape Town and then I’m attending my son’s wedding,”

replied the Virgin boss.

The trip I’m planning to the Lakes this weekend with my brother and his black Labrador Molly was put firmly in the shade.

Branson was in the region to catch up with local youngsters loaned money from the Government’s £1m scheme to help fledgling entrepreneurs. Who better than the man who launched a successful magazine at the age of 16 to give them a few tips?

One of the young people had started a business selling flavoured tea, which caught the eye of the Virgin boss, who admitted to being disappointed by the lack of internet-based businesses on show. “We still lag way behind the US in online start-ups,” said Branson, sporting his trademark jeans and open-necked shirt.

I’ve visited a few offices in the Virgin group and they are all undeniably hip workplaces – a far cry from the Echo’s offices, which could easily double as the set of a mid-1970s episode of The Sweeney.

The Virgin staff I saw yesterday all sported the smart casual look perfected by their leader. I tried to convince myself that my black suit, white shirt and black tie combo struck a defiant blow for orthodox values.

WHEN Tag Energy Solutions opened a wind turbine factory near Billingham in 2011, it was hailed as a key part of the region’s bid to become an international centre for the renewables industry.

The world-class plant has struggled to secure major orders as wind farm developers – even those building in British waters – have handed contracts to firms in Germany, France and Holland.

The news that Tag has won a multi-million pound order to supply Eon’s Humber Gateway wind farm is a huge vote of confidence in British engineering.

In a few years we may well look back on today’s announcement as the day when this region began to wrest control from an industry which has been dominated by rivals across Europe.

Well done to Alex Dawson and his team, who never gave up their fight to bring jobs and investment to the Tees Valley.

THANKS to i2i Business Solutions for inviting me to the Tees Valley Best New Business Awards at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough. It was a great night that celebrated the passion, determination and unique character of the region. Congratulations to all of the winners. I was particularly pleased to see Darlington’s Patchwork People and Name4Game win their categories.

Both got their first media coverage on the business pages of the Echo.

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