From E-books to a $400M Exit

How a Personal Brand Sold for Millions


May 17, 2023

What up, Dealpreneurs!

In the world of social media & influencers, it’s no wonder that people have figured out how to monetize their brand & products.

The issue is that personal brands are rarely scalable & are seen as un-investable for an acquirer.

So then, how did Kayla Itsines, whose brand was fully based on her, scale to a $400M exit? More importantly, how can you take her playbook and help other influencer businesses build exitable businesses?

The Start

Kayla Itsines & Toby Pierce started their business with two ebooks focused on fitness and nutrition, priced at $60/each. Kayla was one of the very first OG influencers on Instagram and she used her following to promote the ebooks.

They later changed their branding to the Bikini Body Guide (BBG), which quickly grew a cult following.

In 2015, recognizing the importance of fostering a community around the brand, they went on a world tour offering free group fitness classes to build their community.

Within a few years of launching BBG they were making $30M/yr in revenue—netting $20M.

The Pivot

Kayla & Toby recognized that the business's super power—Kayla’s dominant brand— was also its biggest drawback if they ever wanted to sell the company.

Selling one-off e-book sales wasn’t a great way to build a hugely valuable company, even if it was hugely profitable.

So, in 2015, they began to reinvest heavily in a brand change to SWEAT, and brought in other trainers with audience distribution to appeal to a wider audience than Kayla was able to access.

They also moved all of the content to an app instead of the previous pdf format allowing them to gain subscribers and generate recurring revenue.

The Sweat with Kayla app sat at number 1 in the App Store in more than 142 countries within a year of release.

By owning short workouts built specifically for women, Sweat quickly dominated the niche that they created and they built a product offering relied less heavily on Kayla’s following for growth.

The Exit

In 2022, IFIT (the owner of Nordic Track) bought the SWEAT brand in a deal valued over $400M.

When Kayla decided to sell the business, it wasn't about her personal brand or her individual contributions anymore.

Instead, the value of the business was in the brand, the program, the team, and the customer base that had been built over time.

The Personal Brand Playbook

(1) Identify a gap in the market and quickly achieve product-market fit.

(2) Meet the market where it is by offering a no-brainer purchase that provides value to the customer.

(3) Use profits to reinvest in the business, building community and distribution away from any single person risk and diversify the distribution channels.

(4) Dominate the niche you create and build a brand that becomes synonymous with it.

(5) Sell the company to a larger player for a significant return on investment.

Want a deep dive into BBG’s exit?

Check out our podcast here!

Today's Edition Is Supported By

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