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40 Under 40

Global fitness CEO and Young Entrepreneur of the Year chat business

40 Under 40

SWEAT CEO Tobi Pearce has tapped into the global health and fitness industry by combining health and technology, while Build Clean founder Sam Ackland is trying to change the perception of the cleaning industry and drive down unemployment in the process. Last week, the pair were named winners of the Inspiring Disruptor and Entrepreneurial awards at InDaily’s 40 Under 40 for 2020.

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Inspiring Disruptor winner awarded by OTR

As CEO of international women’s fitness community SWEAT, Pearce has helped build a platform of 28-minute workouts, meal advice and post-pregnancy plans targeted to women aged 20-35.

Pearce started his career as personal trainer, before co-founding SWEAT with business partner Kayla Itsines.

He said the company was born after he identified a gap in the fitness industry for the use of technology and began building the business with the popular Bikini Body Guide eBooks.

Wanting to broaden the customer base, the company expanded and in 2015 the SWEAT app was born. The product shifted from a single service purchase model to a subscription business model, added four additional trainers, introducer new programs and content, and rebranded from the BBG workout program to SWEAT.

In 2018, it was estimated the SWEAT mobile app, which was developed by previous 40 Under 40 winner Hinney Lo at PixeForce, had been downloaded more than 30 million times across the world.

Pearce said 49 per cent of its membership came from in the US alone. However, its headquarters remain in Adelaide.

Last week he was named Inspiring Disruptor, presented by OTR, at InDaily’s 40 Under 40 awards for drastically changing the fitness industry.

He said South Australia’s start-up and entrepreneurial space was in the midst of a “pivotal transformation” with the state’s economy driven by innovation, making it an attractive destination to run and operate a global business from.

“These awards help drive excellence in the business and startup world, and showcase the incredible calibre of talent and business acumen in South Australia,” Pearce said.

Since July 2018, the business has grown from 60 employees to almost 100 with the majority operating out of South Australia and the remaining employees in Victoria, he said.

The business has continued to adapt to the times and during the coronavirus pandemic diversified its range of workouts as more people exercised from home.

“Over the last six months, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the health and fitness industry, driving a significant shift in consumer behavior,” Pearce said.

“From the outset of the pandemic, SWEAT’s focus was on helping women move their bodies to reduce stress and keep active during this time. We listened to the needs of our global community and rapidly increased the variety and volume of our at-home workout content.

“As CEO, this meant leading, strategising and making swift commercial decisions to transform our product pipeline and bring forward content launches to meet the needs of our community.

“As a result, SWEAT now has more than 650 at-home workouts within the app and we’re developing even more at-home workout solutions for women globally.

“Leveraging technology to ignite positive change and inspire community is in our ethos; it’s what SWEAT was founded upon and what we continue to work toward no matter what is happening in the world around us.”

Pearce is also the Cofounder of EzLicence, which connects learner drivers with verified driving instructors online.

His business savvy has won him the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award and 2016 Business SA local winner.

Entrepreneurial winner awarded by William Buck

Founder and Managing Director of Build Clean Sam Ackland wants to have a positive impact on society by creating long-term work and a company focused on great culture and premium service delivery.

Ackland said Build Clean’s ideology was to change the perception of cleaners in the industry by creating a workplace “delivering the best in cleaning”.

He said he hoped for Build Clean to be recognised by industry bodies as one of Australia's top 10 employers. The business has so far provided work to more than 20 full-time employees and was expecting to expand interstate.

Looking to the future, Ackland said he planned to move into the East Coast market to give the company the opportunity to reduce the unemployment rate at a national level.

Build Clean was founded in 2018 after moving from property maintenance to builders cleaning.

Ackland said the re-brand left sole tradership as it sought to lead the market in the coming years.

He said in the company’s first year he’d created an internal training and leadership program to elevate his team efficiently and effectively and was working to provide employment opportunities and career pathways for the unemployed and had doubled company revenue year over year.

The company has since won contracts with Southern Cross Care, Carmelite Nursing Home and Adelaide-based builder Regent Homes.

It was the ability to capture market share in a slow growth industry while maintaining company culture, which Ackland said was his company’s success.

“Growing for profits is certainly challenging, and often comes at the detriment of the organisation’s people. However, I have managed to grow at over 100 per cent year over year whilst increasing our team’s workplace enjoyment, satisfaction and career pathways,” Ackland said.

“We are currently working on our sister brand Carpet Clean, in an effort to capture the remaining value in the residential market along with offsetting the volatility of the construction industry.”

As well as his role with Build Clean, Ackland is the Chair of the Australian Subcontractors Association and in 2019 he published his first book From You, To Two. The book is billed as a small business and entrepreneurship guide for tradespeople wanting to grow their company from sole trader to a team.

This year he's been named SA Young Entrepreneur of the Year and took out InDaily's Entrepreneurial Award.

The third annual award winners were announced on Thursday, 22 October. See the full list here.

Keep in touch with state’s talented young leaders by joining South Australia’s 40 Under 40 on LinkedIn.

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