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Ben Francis

‘Starting a business, it’s so easy to put yourself in a position where everyone agrees with you and tells you how great you are. You need to constantly be around people who give you a reality check, people who are better than you’

‘Failures will allow you to succeed so I think people need to reframe what they think about failures and just give it a go. Go all in on something and see what happens. If it doesn’t go well, you can always try something new’

Our youngest entrepreneur to offer up wisdom, Ben Francis founded fitness wear brand Gymshark aged just 19 while he was still at university and working as a pizza delivery boy for £5 an hour. He’s talked about Gymshark becoming the British equivalent of a Nike or an Adidas.

Like many other entrepreneurs quoted here, he started small, having been taught to sew by his mother, and began making workout gear in his parent’s garage in Bromsgrove, West Midlands using a sewing machine and a screen printer he’d bought with £1,000 of savings.

What made Gymshark different back in 2012 was that Francis cannily harnessed the power of early social media and influencers to get his brand known, collaborating with reality TV celebrities.

In August 2020, Ben Francis sold a 30 per cent share of Gymshark to US-based General Atlantic, valuing it at £1bn. Given that Ben Francis still owns 70 per cent of the company, on paper he is now worth £700m.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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