My name is Ben Francis. The last 7 years of my life have been crazy. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, meet incredible people, and have had the first seat on the rocket ship that is Gymshark. Here’s a little about how my story started.
I was born in the West Midlands in 1992. I grew up a huge Aston Villa fan, and attended South Bromsgrove High School, and later Aston University in central Birmingham.
As a kid I was obsessed with football, but as I realised I’d never be good enough to make a living from football, that obsession moved to computer based projects. I was never great at school (something I later learned was more down to application rather than anything else), until at the age of 17 I took an IT class. This IT class was different to anything else I’d done before because it was all about learning and applying real skills – not just writing about them.
At around the same time, I joined my local gym. The gym was hugely intimidating to me, but I watched Youtubers such as Scott Herman and learned the basic skills and structure you needed to apply to yourself in the gym, in order to get results. These early lessons of structure, consistency and hard work were some of the most important lessons I’d learn in my life. I applied these same lessons to my school work, and went from getting Ds & Es at GCSEs, to As and Bs at A level. The structure, consistency and work ethic I found in the gym I realised, could be applied to different areas of my life and it would work. This changed my life.
Around this time, I started to merge my passion for computing with my newly acquired passion for fitness. I created two fitness based iPhone apps. They were basic, but they allowed me to apply my creativity to my two obsessions. Both of them entered the top charts in the UK (although, back in 2011 competition wasn’t particularly high), it was an incredible feeling to see my creations in the top charts on the Apple App Store pages. Both apps were basic, the first was called Fat Loss Abs Guide. It was a simple app filled with pages on how to lose weight and get abs. The second was called iPhysique, it was an app that gave tips on how to get in shape, but also would allow you to auto populate your calendar with a basic workout split so you could hold yourself accountable.
Shortly after this, I wanted a website that would transact. A website that sells something (as it was something I’d never done before) and involved in the fitness industry that I’d fallen in love with. But first, I needed something to sell. The most obvious thing to me was supplements, but I couldn’t afford any stock. I called around UK distributors and my £5 an hour at Pizza Hut wouldn’t even get me a foot in the door – I was nowhere near even the lowest of minimum order quantities. I decided to drop ship. I loaded the Gymshark website up with as many supplements as I could find, and drop shipped them all from other vendors, adding a small margin. It took over 6 weeks to get the first sale, and then in July 2012, Gymshark was born.