The Midlands has a £238 billion economy with 880,000 businesses, generating over 12% of the UK’s Gross Value. It is also a hotbed of young talent, with Birmingham – sometimes referred to Europe’s most diverse and youngest city – sitting at the heart of the Midlands.
Our region’s business community is thriving with young entrepreneurs looking to take control of their own futures by launching their own business ventures.
On World Entrepreneurs’ Day, we want to celebrate local success by showcasing some of the Midland’s top entrepreneurs.
Ben Francis – Gymshark
Born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Ben Francis is the founder of the Gymshark. Gymshark began in 2012 as a fitness supplements company, which Ben ran from his parent’s garage whilst also working at a local pizza delivery company.
In 2013, Ben began designing and selling fitness clothing, and after going viral on social media it generated £30,000 in sales in just 30 minutes!
Within just 5 years, Gymshark opened a new £5 million headquarters in Solihull, West Midlands, and by 2020 the company was valued in excess of £1 billion.
Ben has been included on the Forbes 30 under 30 lists, and won the EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Neil and Laura Westwood – Magic Whiteboard
Magic Whiteboard was first set up in Worcester in the West Midlands back in 2006, but the idea took off when Neil and Laura Westwood took their idea to Dragon’s Den in 2008.
The managed to secure investment of £100,000 from Mr Paphitis and Ms Meaden, and their business grew with the support of the Dragons.
Having achieved huge growth and increased sales from £45,000 to £1.2 million a year by 2014, the Westwoods bought back their shares from Meaden and Paphitis
Ben Amanna – Boxraw
Ben Amanna founded sportswear brand Boxraw from his bedroom in Coventry in 2017
The brand sells a range of sports clothing and boxing-themed casual wear, and famous stars such as Michael B Jordan, and boxer Tommy Fury are fans of the range.
Boxraw now turns over £5 million and employs around 40 staff, with Ben appearing on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his success.
Jack Dyer and James Wren – Freetrain
Jack Dyer and James Wren are former professional footballers who met at Midlands-based football club Burton Albion.
Their innovative sports vest design allows the wearer to store their phone and other small items on their chest, rather then having the risk of them falling out of pockets or having them strapped to your arm.
The vests, which should fit anyone aged 14 and upwards, are manufactured abroad and now sold in 12 countries. The company now has online stores covering Germany, Canada and the US among others and it has just gone live in Australia.