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Sat 12 Sep 2009 04:00 AM

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Where there’s a Will there’s a way

Dreams can come true. Our cover star this month, Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, is proof of that.

Dreams can come true. Our cover star this month, Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, is proof of that.

Even just three years ago, few experts really believed that his company could be a commercial success. The idea of charging customers $200,000 to go into space for a few hours seemed fanciful at best, commercial suicide at worst.

But as our interview with Whitehorn shows, the world has been proved wrong. Last month's $280m investment by Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments for a 32 percent stake has put a near $1bn valuation on the company.  With plans to launch commercial satellites, that figure could well rise in the coming years.

Sir Richard Branson's passion and PR have helped, but the real hard work has been done by Whitehorn. There were many times when it all looked just too difficult and too expensive to pull off.

Against all odds, he has never once swayed in his belief that the company will deliver both its product and profits. Now, the odds are he will do both. His story is a good lesson for all CEOs around the world: if your product is good, people will buy it.  Don't listen to the critics, listen to yourself. Read your own balance sheet, not anyone else's.

Given that not one person has been sent into space yet by Whitehorn, but nearly $40m has been taken in advance bookings, he is living proof that the above works.

 

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