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EPISODE 104 44 mins

KING FITNESS ~ How to build a Lean Direct-to-Consumer eCommerce Brand

Posted on 6th October 2017 ,
by Kunle Campbell

About the guests

Joe Leese

Kunle Campbell

Joe Leese is a self-employed Digital Designer, who has worked for global clients including Coca-Cola, American Express, and Unilever. In 2014 He founded Runnit, a fitness app that went on to receive investment from O2 and Telefonica. Shortly after, he started King Fitness Company - a new sports brand with a focus on high-quality gym accessories.

I had the privilege of interviewing Joe Leese; who is the founder of a small but growing high-quality gym accessories physical product business: King Fitness Company. I found out about the brand and became a customer on Instagram. I actually pre-ordered one of his products – the King Fitness gym bag via an Instagram ad. I was put on a pre-sales list and eventually received my order 6 weeks after purchase.

I got Joe on the show to break down his funnels and explain how to set up a lean pre-order physical product business.

We talk about:

  • Designing physical products
  • Sourcing process and finding reliable suppliers
  • Dominating amazon with reviews
  • Instagram ads
  • Testing the market with pre-sales
  • The importance of photography and how to find photographers on the cheap

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Getting out of his comfort zone with Runnit

Joe has a background in design. However, after working a full-time job, he quit and started freelancing. That is where he got the idea of starting the Runnit App. His company was lucky to be one of the few chosen by WIRE UP to be mentored and given support in their new startup. They developed many connections with well-known companies. The company was an affiliated sports brand that was shut down after two years due to technical difficulties with the app.

According to Joe, the app business is very unpredictable, and he would prefer to deal with physical products. One bug on an app could destroy the reputation of the company since people rarely go back to apps that did not meet their expectations.

From King Shaker Company to King Fitness Company

His love for fitness is what led him to start the King Shaker company. His main advertising channel was mainly through Twitter where he would follow people who he thought would be interested in his products. He would also like their posts, and eventually, it started bearing fruit.

He used a start-up advertising methodology which is common amongst tech companies. Currently, the company is also available on Instagram where you can view images of their products. They did not take pre-orders for their metal-protein shakers. Their shakers are available on Amazon, e-Bay, Gym Bottle and THEIR WEBSITE.

The company eventually changed its name to King Fitness after they expanded and started making gym bags. They pre-sold the bags to test the market before going into full-scale production. The first order for the protein shakers took six months to sell out, and they did not want to go through the same with the new product.

Getting prototypes from China

They used Alibaba to find suppliers for their products from China. Once they had perfected the design and tested the quality of the bag, they decided to start their online marketing campaign. They also built their pre-order page and hired a model for the photographs. The ad campaign ran mainly through Instagram and Facebook.

The main challenge they experienced working with factories in China is finding quality companies. Alibaba has started running quality checks on the companies on its site which will reduce the time and resources used to getting credible companies. Also, dealing with middlemen is an issue due to the delayed response. But all this is worth it since getting prototypes from China saves on lots of money.

Future plans

Joe sees the company going into full-scale production for the bags. They will also carry on with their ad campaigns to build the customer base. They also want to research into other gym products like gym trainers. Since the pre-order campaign was successful with the bags, they will consider using it for upcoming products.

Lightning round

Hiring people

He looks for people who are smart and are talented in key specialty areas the company needs.

Indispensable tools for managing the business

Email, Xero for invoicing and trans for product management

Best Mistake

Runnit App was the biggest business mistake that taught him a lot of lessons on how to run a business.

Advice to future entrepreneurs

Always work out the smallest unit of work you can do to make the biggest impact.

Most influential book on building a business

The book that has greatly influenced how he runs his business is The Leading StartUp.


  • Business background 03:08
  • King Shaker Brand 04:44
  • Fitness passion and King Fitness Brand 08:33
  • A little about Runnit app 05:32
  • Division bag launch process 22:52
  • Prototyping in China 32:35
  • The future 37:51
  • Lightning round 40:00

About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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