Ben Francis is the founder and chief executive of British activewear upstart Gymshark. Francis dropped out of college to build the Gymshark brand, which initially started as a supplements company. He then invested in a sewing machine and screen printer and started manufacturing clothes from his parents’ garage. In 2013, just a year after he founded the brand, a tracksuit he made went viral on Facebook, and generated £30,000 in sales within 30 minutes.
For the year ended July 2021, the brand’s revenue reached $506 million. Francis made room for Gymshark in a hyper-competitive and tough-to-crack activewear space by targeting everyday gym-goers, rather than elite athletes, and building a community around strength training enthusiasts. Gymshark’s grassroots social media marketing has helped the brand make inroads in a market dominated by Nike and Adidas, reaching a $1.3 billion valuation in 2021.