Billionaire Branson: 'Schools Are There to Educate the Masses,' Not Entrepreneurs

By Susan Jones | April 10, 2015 | 9:35am EDT

Virgin Group owner, British billionaire Richard Branson speaks to students at Warsaw University on Oct. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

( - "It is possible that school is not necessary," says billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of the company that includes Virgin Airlines and Virgin Galactic.

"I mean, I left school at 15 and I learned the art of entrepreneurialism by just getting out there and doing it. And I also educated myself in the real world. And I've seen my life as one long education that I never had.

"But I think that's for entrepreneurs. I think for obviously a lot of other professions, school can be quite useful and universities can be quite useful. But for most entrepreneurs, I think the sooner they get out there and get their hands dirty, the better."

Branson made the comments Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg News.

He noted that entrepreneurs, by nature, are people who want to change or create things; they don't want to be put in a box: "And schools are there to educate the masses, I think. And entrepreneurs rebel against that. I think if you have a good idea that you feel can make a difference in other people's lives, I suspect you would be better off not building up a big (load) of student debt, but just getting out there and giving it a go.

"Now, the danger in it is if you fail, you don't have an education to fall back on, you don't have a degree to fall back on. But you will have had a pretty good education in trying to set up and run your business. And you just got to pick yourself up and try again."

Branson's commercial space venture, Virgin Galactic, is trying again to build a shuttle after a test flight crashed last year, killing one of the test pilots.

Branson told Bloomberg that 500 people are working "literally day and night" in the Mojave Desert to get the next spaceship finished. "And they are confident that they're back on track. It will be about a year delay, but I still believe that Virgin Galactic's got a great future and that we're going to deliver," he said.

Branson said "of course" he still plans to be on the first commercial spaceflight, along with those who can afford the $250,000 ticket price.

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