India’s Dr Vijay Mallya is often described as the Richard Branon of India. His flamboyant lifestyle and penchant for pretty women leads some to draw the comparison. The other reason for the comparison is because Dr Mallya, like Branson, is so high profile in the aviation industry. But really the two men’s upbringing and approach to business are so different.
Branson is a self-made millionaire who over the years has invested relatively small amounts of money, by Mallya standards, but he has invested shrewdly and then turned that into a fortune.
Mallya on the otherhand inherited a fortune and is used to growing his wealth by basically out-spending the competition. He made India’s Kingfisher beer a top-selling beer by spending millions on advertising and marketing. In other words, he effectively bought market share.
Now compare this approach to business to Branson’s. The perception is that Branson too is a big spender but the fact is he isn’t.
Take his flagship business Virgin Atlantic as an example. The perception is that Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is a large airline. But if If you look at its fleet size you will see that currently it has around 38 aircraft. That’s not very big when compared to the likes of SIA and BA. Branson of course would argue that his fleet may not be big in number but each aircraft is big in size. But there is no getting away from the fact it only has around 38 aircraft.
If you look at the amount of money Branson invested to set-up his Australian low-cost carrier Virgin Blue you will also see it was quite modest. Ten million dollars to be exact.
Now Dr Mallya’s approach to business is very different. Dr Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines has only been operating for a few years and its already got a fleet of over 100 aircraft.
He has tried to beat the airline competition by outspending his competitors but aviation is a different business to beer and not even Dr Mallya’s pockets are deep enough to spend his way to the top.