Who is Richard Branson? Guest Shark Tank Judge

Richard Branson shark tank guest judge

Shark Tank viewers may wonder about the guest shark Richard Branson and his accomplishments. Like the full-time sharks, Branson has a pretty impressive business history. He is what many describe as a serial entrepreneur. In addition to his business work, he also enjoys a number of hobbies and philanthropic pursuits. Let’s learn more!

Early Life

English business mogul and billionaire, Richard Branson was born in 1950. Before he became the mogul he is today, Richard Branson was a youngster growing up in the Blackheath area of London, England. His father was a lawyer, and his mother was actually a bit of an entrepreneur herself! She designed wooden wastepaper baskets and tissue holders.

It didn’t take long for the business bug to have its effect on the young Richard. He began a magazine, entitled Student, at the age of 16.  It was around this same time that Branson started his mail order record-selling business. Because he sold his product at a lower price point than mainstream record sellers, his business grew.

After this initial foray into the record business, his next step was to open a record shop in London. In the early 70s, he was able to leverage this initial success and opened his first record store. It wasn’t much later that Virgin Records began.

This record label was supported by up and coming acts. Branson would record albums at his country estate for the label. The studio was called The Manor Studio because of its location out in the English countryside.

Throughout all of his endeavors, he was supported by his parents. This support was both emotional and financial. Branson has two sisters named Lindy and Vanessa. Both of his sisters are younger.

Business Innovation

It is estimated that Branson’s net worth is somewhere in the range of $5 billion. He has accumulated this wealth through a number of different innovative business projects. Virgin Records was his first major business endeavor. He grew the company to become the largest independent music label. He was estimated to be worth around £5 million by the end of the 1970s.

In 1980, he took his record company to the international market. His skill and acumen as an entrepreneur continued to serve him well during this process of expansion. From Virgin Records to Virgin Mobile to Virgin Airlines, you may think that everything that Branson touched turned into a huge success! This was not always the case. There are plenty of times where Branson failed.

Businesses that he began that operated in the transportation areas such as train travel,  or tried to fix healthcare shortcomings weren’t the huge successes that many of his other projects were.

Space Projects

It seems like a different billionaire is heading to the edge of space every time you turn around! And, yes, Richard Branson is a part of this intergalactic group. He has been interested in space for many years. His first project began in 2004. He named the company Virgin Galactic. This company was a pioneer in the space tourism market.

SpaceShipOne will eventually provide transportation to space. It is also part of the business model to have the rocket licensed for production by other companies. In July of 2021, Branson participated in a flight to the edge of space.

While not leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, on this flight aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel called VSS Unity, he traveled 53 miles above the planet. As the private space race heats up, it is likely that Branson will continue to be at the forefront.

Shark Tank Appearances

Branson appeared in the 9th season of the program for its first episode. He was considered a great addition to the group when he appeared as a guest shark.

Because he has so much experience in such a wide range of industries, it is no surprise that he was right in his element. He was very interested in listening and participating in the pitches, and even made a couple of deals with the hopeful entrepreneurs!

He is also remembered for his difficulties with Mark Cuban. There was a communication mixup and Branson thought that Cuban was insulting one of the contestants. In a move that he thought was playful, Richard poured water on Mark’s head.

Cuban was not amused and did the same thing back! While both men have put the disagreement behind them, there are reports that they still don’t like each other very much.

One of the businesses that Branson invested in was Sierra Madre Hammocks. He invested $175,000 in exchange for a 15% equity stake in the company. Another investment that he made on the show was with Locker Board. Branson was impressed by the 11-year-old entrepreneur who pitched the deal. He invested $65,000 for a 20% equity stake in the business.

The home security company, Ring, was rejected by the sharks, but that didn’t stop Branson from making an investment. The CEO of this popular home alarm company appeared on Shark Tank in 2013. At that time, it was named Doorbot.

Unfortunately, the sharks passed on investing in the company. Fortunately, Branson heard about the company and made an investment outside of the Shark Tank pitch.

Passing on Ring, which was later acquired by Amazon for $1 billion, is often described as the biggest blunder the sharks have made. However, there is no bad blood, as the CEO Jamie Siminoff has appeared on the program as a guest shark himself! This just goes to show that even the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced entrepreneurs don’t always get it right.

Richard Branson is a great fit with the sharks in spite of a few ups and downs and a little water. He definitely has the accomplishments necessary to not feel intimidated by them. Additionally, he is passionate about entrepreneurship and is always looking for new projects. It will be interesting to see if he makes any other appearances on the program in the future!