When Tobi Pearce co-founded exercise app Sweat from his lounge room, little did he expect it would grow into churning A$99.5 million in revenue.
Bootstrapping it the whole way alongside his business partner Kayla Itsines, the determined entrepreneur built the brand to become one of the world’s largest digital fitness training platforms for women – more than 50 million, in fact.
The convenient source of fitness has shaped the way women exercise, allowing them to set, achieve and share their goals while giving them the freedom to do it on their terms.
"From the outset, our focus at Sweat has been to transform the way women work out by removing the barriers they face, so that the only thing they need to worry about is how much they will sweat," Tobi tells The CEO Magazine.
More than 5,000 different workouts, 13 qualified trainers and six years later, it’s still thriving. But not without its share of hurdles along the way.
"Starting a business bootstrapped from the ground up doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, patience and persistence. Not to mention a significant amount of risk," he reflects. "It has also been endlessly rewarding to see how that initial business idea has grown and continued to shape the lives of millions of women around the world."
With a penchant for numbers since a young age, Tobi remembers always dreaming of trying his hand at business.
"I loved numbers, I loved complex problem-solving and nothing made me more curious than understanding how things happened in the business world," he shares.
Determined to mix his passions of exercise and business, the entrepreneur left his job selling pianos at a music store to embark on a personal training startup.
"My boss at the time was a very supportive leader early on in my career and plainly said that he didn’t think there was a long-term opportunity for success in the fitness industry – but he would still support me to explore it," Tobi recalls. "His mentorship gave me a lot of courage and confidence to start my own business and I’ve never looked back.
"At the time I didn’t understand the way I do now the huge impact his approach to business had on me in a good way."
Launching Sweat has been Tobi’s bravest career achievement, and it has paid off. The fitness empire – which spearheaded a phenomenal digital exercise movement – securely placed the 28-year-old on Australia’s Young Rich List.
But what exactly is the entrepreneur’s key to business success?
"Good habits are the foundation of success for a lot of people," Tobi shares. "Habits are algorithms that operate in the background to steer our lives. I’ve found that making habitual day-to-day activities allows me to go about reaching my goals more effectively and efficiently."
Having tapped into the burgeoning tech and health sector early, it’s armed the global fitness executive with an abundance of knowledge – and he’ll be sharing his fresh business mind as one of The CEO Magazine 2021 Executive of the Year Awards’ prestigious judges.
For the first time in the Awards’ decade-long history, not one but three CEOs of the Year will be crowned.
As all businesses were forced to ride the pandemic highs and lows, the opulent gala evening gives the country’s top executives an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s been.
"Australia’s business landscape is going through a significant transformation as it continues to adapt and respond to the unprecedented changes and challenges that have rocked many industries over the past year," Tobi says. "The Executive of the Year Awards provide an opportunity for leaders and their teams to be recognised for their resilience, innovation and achievements, while showcasing the incredible calibre of talent we have here in Australia.
Learning about how habits shape a person’s career through the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, the businessman understands the strong foundation needed for success in the long run – an attribute he’ll no doubt be looking for with the 2021 finalists.
And as the founder of a thriving fitness brand, a little bit of sweat is palpable in the CEO’s daily route to avoiding failure.
"Whether it’s a weightlifting session at the gym or jujitsu practise, taking the time to be active and move my body helps me be a better person, a better dad and a better leader," he explains. "Exercising gives me more energy and resilience to go about my day, and I also find I’m more productive when it comes to work.
"Ultimately, having a strong foundation of habits will be a compounding key to success in the long run."
Discover all the finalists for the 2021 Executive of the Year Awards and celebrate the winners at The Star, Sydney, during the black-tie gala dinner on 24 February 2022. Vaccination requirement to be confirmed.