From Pizza Delivery Boy To Billionaire: How Gymshark Flexed Its Way To The Top

From pizza delivery guy to billionaire founder, the story of Ben Francis and Gymshark is a tale of determination and innovation. Surprisingly, Francis didn't start out as a bodybuilder or fitness guru. Instead, he was just a regular guy delivering pizzas in a small English town. 

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It was during his college days that Francis began to realize that affordable, high-quality workout gear was hard to come by. Frustrated with the lack of options on the market, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Armed with a sewing machine and a lot of determination, he started designing his own gym clothes in his parents' garage.

Not too unlike many modern day industry titans that started with humble beginnings. Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp.,, Inc., Google, Dell Technologies Inc., Walt Disney Co. and more all started in a garage.

From Garage to Millions

With his do-it-yourself sportswear ready, Francis turned to social media to market his brand, enlisting the help of fitness influencers to get the word out. And so, Gymshark was born, with the goal of making high-quality athletic apparel accessible to everyone. Francis was just 19 years old at the time. 

In 2020, General Atlantic bought a 21% stake in the company for nearly $300 million. As of 2023, Forbes estimates that Francis’s remaining stake in Gymshark is worth $1.2 billion. 

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Francis's success with Gymshark lies in his ability to marry influencer marketing with high-quality, affordable athletic wear. He's built the Nike Inc. of Gen Z without spending billions on flashy endorsements or extravagant storefronts.

Instead, Gymshark has focused on creating high-quality $25 shorts and working with fitness influencers to promote them on social media. Instead of using traditional sports stars, he focuses on finding influencers who set the tone in the gym. And it's a strategy that's clearly working, with the brand's revenue soaring 40% to $330 million in the last year. 

Gymshark is targeting younger shoppers and leveraging influencers to create a loyal following. And it's not just about the clothes — Francis has created a lifestyle brand that resonates with his customers, offering more than just workout gear. From sharing diet and fitness tips to hosting events for their fans, they're all about creating a sense of family. It's this emphasis on community that's resulted in loyal customers who stick around for the long haul.

Francis is a testament to the fact that gaining momentum and making a name for yourself in the competitive apparel market doesn't necessarily require a huge marketing budget. He’s one of the youngest newcomers on the Forbes 2023 World Billionaires List. 

Investing in the next Gymshark

These rags-to-riches stories are all too common. Many of the largest companies on the planet were started in a garage, then were supercharged after receiving millions from venture capital or private equity. But thanks to changes in federal law, anyone can invest in the next Gymshark on platforms like StartEngine, one of the leading startup investing crowdfunding sites, including StartEngine itself. . 

See more on startup investing from Benzinga.

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