Startups 20: Gymshark #StartUps - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Startups 20: Gymshark #StartUps


The Gymshark story

When he started fitness apparel brand Gymshark, Ben Francis was a 19-year-old delivering pizzas to see himself through university. Back then, it was nothing more than a screenprinting operation in a garage. Just eight years later, it’s a £1bn global brand.

How did he do it?

Firstly, he was solving a problem: no one was making great clothes for bodybuilders. And while many fitness wear brands opted for either functionality or aesthetics, Francis knew that to stand out, Gymshark couldn't just look good – it had to perform.

Secondly, he was quick to recognise the awesome brand-building potential of the then relatively new phenomenon of Instagram influencers, enlisting them to promote Gymshark to a young and increasingly fitness-obsessed, social media savvy audience.

Today, Gymshark has 4.8 million followers on Instagram and 1.8 million on Facebook, whom it keeps engaged with a regular diet of #fitspiration, and a diverse cast of #fitfluencers modelling its workout, swim, and leisure wear.

In August, Gymshark became the UK’s latest unicorn (a business valued at £1bn), following a £200m investment from US fund manager General Atlantic. What’s even more impressive is that this was its first ever funding round, making it only the second British company since 2001 to achieve unicorn status without any prior investment.


October 25, 2020 at 08:08PM by Henry Williams, Khareem Sudlow