May 17 by Eric Dreshfield

Day 2 of Apttus Accelerate led off with the much anticipated conversation with the venerable, and legendary entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. His work as founder of the Virgin Group is merely part of an innovative, disruptive, and fearless life story that he shared with the Accelerate audience. Sir Richard, was joined by Apttus Chief Revenue Officer Raj Verma, and CEO and founder Kirk Krappe to discuss a variety of topics including innovation, disruption, passion, and success.

Redefining Success Through Innovation

Mr. Verma welcomed Sir Richard to Silicon Valley, “the Innovation Capital of the World,” as he described it, quipping that “in the last 40 years, 90% of the wealth created in the world was created in the 50 mile drive between San Francisco and San Jose. The remaining wealth, was created by Richard Branson!”

But to Sir Richard, success isn’t measured in wealth, it is measured by innovation. “I’m a person who looks forward more than looks back,” he explained. His philosophy dictates being rich in ideas and being rich in new approaches. It’s always been the goal not to accumulate wealth, but to make the world a better place by making sure everyone has access to the things they need to thrive.

Innovation is shaped by courage. Often, brands and entrepreneurs limit their success due to the fear of failure. Sir Richard has tried many things he’d never done before – from hot balloons to space travel to wedding planning. Some were successful, others failed. Failure is nothing to be afraid of so long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. It’s in the pursuit of improvement where innovation innovation occurs. That becomes your sweet-spot for success.

4 More Keys to Success from Sir Richard Branson:

1. Focus on the Customer: Branson told the story of how Virgin Airlines was born out of a need to get people to their destination, when another airline simply cancelled their flight due to a lack of passengers. Branson saw a need, and filled it. Since then, he has made sure that the Virgin brand show empathy for the needs of their customers when entering a market that needs to be shaken up.

2. Have Fun: How can you win in the David versus Goliath fight? As the small competitor, you have to be nimble, able to make things happen on a moments notice, and sometimes that involves poking fun at your competition. He shared a story of when British Airways was putting up a giant wheel near the House of Commons, in plain sight of all the worlds’ press. They had some technical difficulties, delaying the wheel. Branson took advantage of that by having one of his airships fly by for all the world to see, and Branson’s company stole the headlines to help build the Virgin brand.

3. Everyone Benefits from Competition: Krappe and Branson discussed how the smaller companies need to try hard to be better than the big companies. They see many similarities in how they both approach business, in how they believe you can always make something better, and how the smaller companies need to stay one step head in order to survive. Everyone benefits from such competition – customers and competitors alike. It makes everyone better and able to accomplish more.

4. Be Optimistic, Be Willing to Say Yes!: “I’m a born optimist. I’m a very optimistic person,” he shared. “Life is a hellova lot more fun if you say YES!” The video below demonstrates the value this philosophy.

“I think an entrepreneur is somebody that creates something that makes
a positive difference in other people’s lives.”

– Sir Richard Branson

In a similar manner, Sir Richard Branson is building a market and leading the way for commercial space travel. Branson shared that reaching space is a very similar challenge to what Apttus is conquering with the Middle Office. Branson said he is creating a market, creating the opportunity for people to experience something they would have otherwise never experienced. Apttus has long been considered an innovator. It takes guts, drive and determination to go above and beyond simply creating a product to meet an existing demand. Apttus has done so by building a new market – the Middle Office – and is leading the way in this technology space. Thanks to its customers for realizing the benefits of this innovation, the demand for automation in the middle office is growing.

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