[Our growth] is a combination of the sport growing internationally – it’s literally growing in every country around the world – and also our market share, and the brand is really growing as well. It was a smaller business a few years ago even in 2021, then we went from around £268,000 turnover to £1.2 million, and then at the end of this financial year we’ve ended up on £2.4 million. Our current run rates for the end of this financial year looks to be about £4.5 million – James Tighe, CEO of Progress Jiu Jitsu
For this episode of the Lightning 50 E-Commerce Growth Hacking podcast, we interviewed James Tighe, CEO of sports brand Progress Jiu Jitsu.
Progress Jiu Jitsu launched in 2018 as a provider of training clothing and accessories for practitioners of Brazilian jiu jitsu. After starting out supplying only athletes, the company now has an HQ in Manchester and a warehouse in Spain and ships to jiu jitsu fans in over 75 countries.
James shared some of the incredible tech strategies the brand has used to go from £200,000 turnover to over £2 million in just a few years.
Here are some of the highlights from the transcript…
- “It was just a hobby at the time and just for a bit of fun – because Jiu Jitsu ‘gis’ (kimonos) are really expensive; you can only really get them from Brazil or America. So we started importing them by contacting a couple of factories. Then I was training at a really good gym with people that were winning medals at the British Nationals, so my teammates started wearing our gear, and it went from there.”
- “[Our growth] is a combination of the sport growing internationally – it’s literally growing in every country around the world – and also our market share, and the brand is really growing as well. It was a smaller business a few years ago even in 2021, then we went from around £268,000 turnover to £1.2 million, and then at the end of this financial year we’ve ended up on £2.4 million. Our current run rates for the end of this financial year look to be about £4.5 million.”
- “In the last 12 months we’ve put some real solid foundations in place in the business. So we’ve invested a lot into technology, we’re automating a lot of our processes now and that’s enabled us to grow with a lot less pain. It’s also freed up a lot of time so that instead of putting fires out, we can concentrate on growing the business in the right way.”
- “We use best-in-class across most of our tech stack – Shopify, Klaviyo, we use Gorgias for our customer service platform, which is really good – and we also use Monday.com to manage our workflows. It’s been amazing, because instead of us just emailing each other what’s happening, we’ve got a really good project management platform where we can action all our meetings, put deadlines on things, assign people and so on. That just really helps us kick on.”
- “About a year ago we took on a full-time content creator on the staff, which has been a game changer for us really. […] We’re building content with our sponsored athletes and the gyms that we support, the competitions and events that we support, whereas not a lot of our competitors are doing that. Our customers love it – they can’t get enough jiu jitsu content. They want to learn from world champions, they want to watch jiu jitsu videos all day. So that’s been really good for us.”
Progress Jiu Jitsu’s Top Growth Hacks:
- “Use a really good project management tool like Monday.com and set really clear goals to review on a regular basis. Hold a team to account – that’s really going to help you grow. Every month we’ll pick a project and, as a non-negotiable, commit to doing it that month. Before you know it, a year’s gone past and your business has skyrocketed.”
- “Invest in your tech stack and make sure you’ve got the best in class. I’ve made the mistake of going for a cheaper alternative […] but go for the best even if you’ve got to pay a little bit more – because you’ve got all the support there and it’s going to basically propel your business.”
- Progress Jiu Jitsu launched in 2018 as a small, family-run business – it is now one of the largest and most successful jiu jitsu brands in the world.
- The brand has rapidly grown, with a YoY growth rate of 446% in 2022, and 100% in 2023. The company is set to reach £4.5 million in turnover in the coming year.
- James cites key tech tools that have helped power the company’s success – including Shopify, Klaviyo, Gorgias, Shipstation, Inventory Planner and Monday.com.
- For the next year, Progress Jiu Jitsu is focusing on content creation, SMS marketing, affiliate marketing and organizing sports events for boosting brand awareness.
James’ Top Growth Hacks:
- Hold your team to account by using a team productivity tool for projects.
- Don’t cut corners – invest in best-in-class tech.
Want to hear more of what James had to say? Catch up with the full episode here.