Up and running: four Bransons in the making describe how they got started

28th November 1997 at 00:00
ANDY CAMPBELL admits that at school he was far from being a model pupil. "I sat next to a gorgeous blonde girl," he says, "and she was a big distraction for the whole year."

However, he has since more than made up for lost time. Now aged 25, he is co-director of Red Lemon Studios in Glasgow, and is on his way to making a fortune designing computer games.

Andy puts much of his success down to a Young Enterprise company programme at school. "It was a bit of fun. But I didn't see the larger-scale applications until later in life."

Andy went on to study architecture and interior design. While doing work experience with a design firm, he discovered computers. "I got my student loan and instead of blowing it in the pub, I bought myself a computer."

Red Lemon Studios is growing; the company employs 16 people and its first-year turnover was Pounds 600,000.

Andy is now a board member of Young Enterprise and co-ordinates advisers for schools. When he talks to pupils, he tells them this story: "I was sitting at the traffic lights in my silver sports car, when a girl in a clapped-out Ford Fiesta pulled up alongside me. It was the girl who used to sit next to me at school, and she looked at me as if to say, 'What are you doingdriving that car?' " GHISLAIN PASCAL left Downside School in Somerset seven years ago. Today he runs his own PR company, acts as a Mr Fixit for a host of top models - and has catapulted his old school into the limelight. It was his idea for the monks and choir boys of Downside to make an album of Gregorian chants. He signed them up to Virgin Records and the album, The Abbey, sold 75,000 copies in Britain last year. They have just released their second album - Gregorian Moods. "I never imagined when I left school that I'd end up doing this," he says.

Ghislain's career began while he was studying social anthropology at the London School of Economics. As well as studying, he also did part-time PR work for the human rights organisation Survival International.

After graduating, he worked his way up through various companies, finally setting up his own PR firm, Panic, last March. His clients include Caprice Bourret, a model, and Tamara Beckwith, a gossip column regular.

Ghislain, aged 25, says: "We're doing extremely well. Our first year turnover will be in excess of a quarter of a million. My ambition is to make a million and retire by the time I'm 30."

BEN WAY was eight when he was given a laptop computer to help him overcome dyslexia. By the age of 13 he was learning how to program it. Two years later he set up his own company.

Now just turned 17, he runs a successful business from his home in Bath - when he's not at school studying for his A-levels. "It's better than a paper round," he says.

His company, Quad Computer Consultancy, has its own Web site on the Internet and he charges Pounds 15 an hour plus VAT for his services. This year he expects to earn around Pounds 11,000.

"I build computers, sell them, upgrade them and teach people how to use them," he says. "I also do programming, web authoring and general problem-solving.

"I can get things done fast - I can build a computer in 20 minutes. And my school work doesn't take me long to do."

His eye firmly on the next opportunity, Ben is already developing two other business ideas. He is not sure what he will do career-wise, but intends to take a year out before going to university.

But what do fellow pupils at Hayesfield School, Bath, think? "Some of them are proud of me - they think I'm going to be the next Richard Branson."

FLEUR SEXTON was 23 and training to be a teacher when she became aware of a lack of good computer software to help teach languages in schools.

So she decided to do something about it, and ploughed Pounds 10,000 of savings into developing her own hi-tech teaching aids.

Two years on, as well as working full time as a French teacher, Fleur is at the helm of a rapidly expanding business - Progress Educational Tools Ltd.

"I needed something in the classroom," she says, "something structured that would motivate pupils instead of turning them off."

Her computer programmer husband Chris writes the software and Fleur provides the teaching input and business acumen.

The result is Teacher's PET software, in a classroom and home version in French, German, Spanish and Italian, and also available in a multimedia format.

It is selling well and has won Fleur, now 25, a clutch of business awards. "My mother ran a business and my dad is a lecturer, so I got the two aspects from them," she says. I also did a National Vocational Qualification in business studies last year and I'm having ongoing weekly sessions, learning all the time.

"It's one thing knowing about teaching, but you also have to be very competitive."

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