Beyond the Entrepreneur: Gymshark

Name: Ben Francis

Company: Gymshark

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The numbers: 1.2 million customers in more than 131 countries around the world, 215 employees, £176 million turnover

How did he do it? Ben Francis is the kind of visionary business bloke who makes you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. He founded fitness brand Gymshark (which sells stylish and functional gym-wear and accessories) at the age of 19, when he was still at university. Within five years it was seeing revenues of more than £4m, with Francis aged 22 at the time.

One bright idea that helped the business grow: Gymshark decided it would send free clothing to key online “influencers” – mainly prominent body-builders and fitness folk – in the hope they would mention the brand and recommend it to their hundreds of thousands of followers.  It worked.  Of course, everyone’s doing it now, but in 2012 this kind of savvy social media outreach was transformative.

Latest news: Ben, who is still some way off 30, has just stepped down as CEO of what is now Clade Group, citing multiple business reasons. He’s still very much a part of the company, but in a recent announcement on the company blog, he described himself as a “young entrepreneur who has little to no prior business experience” (modest or what) and said that he felt his managing director would be the best person to step up to the CEO position.

Best quote: “You need to set your ego aside and ensure the business is always put first, and the people strongest for each role are in those roles.”

 

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