BossFit was started in 2012 by James Whittaker (Hult MBA graduate, Boston 2013) and close friend Jonathon Snape. James and Jonathon are both Australians who shared a strong passion for the fitness craze CrossFit and, more generally, how healthy living looked like something that was here to stay rather than just a "fad". Using fitness as a conduit to motivate people to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives, "BossFit" was born. It started out as a social media brand on Facebook, before expanding to Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest after that. When the concept continued to grow, YouTube and Google+ accounts quickly followed.
In July 2014, the company had 33,000 Facebook fans. Since then, the BossFit community has grown, now boasting over 150,000 fans across its numerous social media platforms, including 107,000 on Facebook alone (at time of writing).
In June 2014 James and Jonathon opened their first ever performance facility, a 13,000 square foot CrossFit and weightlifting gym in Brisbane, Australia, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Branded as two separate entities under the one roof "CrossFit Torian" and the "Brisbane Barbell Club", both powered by BossFit, they sought out the most elite people to truly put the gym on the map. Their efforts paid off and the gym now has four Olympic Games athletes, and one Olympic Games coach, on the staff. The official open day was attended by more than 500 people, including world class athletes Chad Mackay and Ruth Anderson Horrell who flew in from Sydney and Las Vegas, respectively, for the event.
James and Jonathon have been busy focusing on their next moves, which include creating a full apparel line and launching a comprehensive website to grow the community exponentially. For the website, they've been able to put together a team of 20 people from around the world to cover all areas of health and fitness, including CrossFit, weightlifting, extreme sports, military, yoga, nutrition and more. More than 30 interviews have been conducted with notable athletes and personalities, and will be released when the site goes live in late 2014.
It has not all been smooth sailing. James has been living in Los Angeles since he completed Hult's MBA program in Boston, and the time difference and separation from Jonathon, still in Australia, has been difficult. However, California is very much the epicenter of fitness and has enabled BossFit to forge partnerships with well-known athletes. Trying to run as lean as possible has also been a challenge. Being fully aware that they need to keep fixed expenses to a minimum, they've been doing everything possible to build their community organically.
Issues around copyrighting have meant the brand has been plagued by imitators trying to capitalize on their name. Because of this, a name change in the medium term is likely. James and Jonathon credit this as their biggest lesson in two years: get your trademark sorted before you go to market.
Having this concept prior to beginning the MBA program meant James was able to use it as a test case throughout the year. James cites two courses at Hult as particularly influential:
- Strategic Brand Management with Professor Marco Protano
- Entrepreneurship: New Business Venturing with Professor Mike Grandinetti
These two courses brought home the reality that an entrepreneurial journey can be successfully undertaken for anyone who takes the time to understand their product, the market and the operating environment. Acting strategically, rather than on emotion, can be the difference between those who make it and those who don't.
Daily conversations with classmates also served as motivation to dream big and give it everything. The global community at Hult is one of the biggest attractions, especially in the exciting metropolis of Boston (and on rotation in Shanghai), and James still frequently keeps in touch with his Hult friends.
While still in its infancy, BossFit has carved out a strong niche in the fitness community and looks well positioned to grow its fan base as its product range expands.