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The magic of Richard Branson

22 May 2012

The magic of Richard Branson

I have just come back from a fantastic morning at Richard Branson's family home near Oxford, where four Virgin Media Pioneers were pitching their ideas to him and some business friends, for a share of £5,000 as part of the 'Pitch to Rich' competition. To find out more, read on and watch this short film...


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Richard's life is definitely different to most - before the Pioneers event had even kicked off, Richard had 40 or more South African students sing for him as he enjoyed his morning coffee!

Around 70 people were present for the Pioneers pitches, which were to take place in a marquee in the Branson garden, and joining Richard were Nigel Gilbert (Virgin Media), Richard Reed (Innocent) and Jamal Edwards (SB TV). A relaxed Richard joked and encouraged the four pitchers – the first of whom, Maria, was very nervous but quickly warmed up as Richard encouraged her to share her toys and proposals with the judges. Richard particularly loved his toy!

Having recently returned from an Ocean Elders meeting, Richard became particularly animated by SafetyNet Technologies's plans for retro-fitting fishing nets to help small fish, quipping 'it could be a sea shaking idea!' The session saw SafetyNet winning the majority of the funding they were seeking.

Richard's magic was evident throughout the event, from the warmth and encouragement he gave to the pitchers right through to his incisive questioning, and Pioneers were left in no doubt that they were dealing with a serious businessman. Richard also played an active role in the judges' funding award negotiations and he was keen to ensure that all contributions were recognised.

Following the main part of the event, Richard was more than happy to cooperate with my requests for the inevitable photos, having fun and striking poses with the participants, and bringing the day to a fun, memorable close. By the end of the day everyone was buzzing from the event and being so close to Richard and his magic.

Read Richard's blog about the event at


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