From Pizza Delivery Driver To Billionaire: The Rise Of Gymshark's Ben Francis

This story is part of a new series of features on the subject of success, Benzinga Inspire.

After just 11 years of starting a business, Ben Francis has been catapulted to a status just 0.35% of people in the world share: that of a billionaire.

The 30-year-old founder is the youngest billionaire in the U.K. and one of the youngest in the world, after building the Gymshark brand while he was in college and working as a pizza delivery driver. The fitnesswear brand, based in Solihull, is estimated to be worth £1.25 billion ($1.5 billion) today.

Francis, who started the company in his family home after his grandmother bought him a sewing machine, currently owns 70% of the company — he had sold about 21% to General Atlantic for $300 million.

The billionaire’s journey to creating one of the most successful fitness brands in the world began when he was a student at Aston University, where he created the first version of the Gymshark website.

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At the outset, the company’s operations revolved around selling supplements through dropshipping, according to Entrepreneur, who covered the young founder’s success. However, the company changed course when Francis realized a dearth of fitness apparel that could fit him comfortably.

The discovery spurred the entrepreneur to create a clothing line that blended American bodybuilding fashion with tapered European designs. In the ensuing two years, Francis, with the help of his grandmother, personally crafted the products using a sewing machine and a screen printer.

With a bit of luck and a lot of tenacity, Francis’ brand took off after it made an appearance at in-person fitness expo in the U.K. The company went from doing roughly $400 in revenue per day to about $50,000 in 30 minutes, leading the founder to drop out of college to focus on the brand full-time.

Although Francis initially stepped down as CEO in 2015, he continued to work in different roles, including as chief technology officer, chief marketing officer and chief product officer. He resumed the role of CEO in August 2021.

And despite controversy surrounding a video that appears to show Francis snorting a white substance with friends, Gymshark has continued to grow in popularity and is worn by A-list celebrities and athletes.

Francis has said that he has ambitious plans to make Gymshark the U.K.’s answer to sportswear brands like Nike, Lululemon, Under Armour, Adidas, and Puma, and believes the brand can also become global, with North America one day accounting for 50% of its revenue.

Gymshark has already expanded beyond apparel with the launch of the Gymshark Conditioning App and plans to develop additional interactive products.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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