Special buys stake in Wimp 2 Warrior

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AUCKLAND, Today: Special New Zealand has announced an equity and cash funding agreement with “the next billion dollar sports brand”. W2W (Wimp 2 Warrior) is an immersive and transformational 20-week mixed martial arts training programme taught in-gym to more than 10,000 people around the world.

The training programme is designed, delivered and promoted by respected identities in the mixed martial arts arena including Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh, UFC champion Daniel Cormier, British television presenter and ex-SAS member Ant Middleton, and ESPN and UFC broadcaster Laura Sanko. 

The programme is part of the fast-growing, but as yet unpenetrated compat sports training segment of the fitness market. W2W pledges to reach five million customers in future – a conservative target considering the active MMA fanbase of 575 million people worldwide.

Special has been tasked with an identity rebrand and reposition; a global brand strategy and communications campaign; and supporting the launch of upcoming products and services, across W2W global network in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the UAE.

Special GM John Marshall said: “This is a dream opportunity for the full range of skills we have at Special across naming, design and innovation, strategy, comms and PR, social, digital and media.

“There are 600 million global fans, and heavily funded professional leagues, with the UFC alone generating $US1 billion last year.”

“We’ve committed our full line-up of resources and experienced international talent to help grow this company and hit that five million customer number, and the 2025 REV target.”

Special co-founder Tony Bradbourne said:  “From our very first meeting we quickly realised as companies, we had closely aligned ambitions to create a real impact globally – and as an independent company we are always looking to back the brands we believe in by taking a stake in shared success.”

Sydney-based W2W co-ceo Angus Benbow said: “We’re a truly international company – our founder grew up in the UK, we were started in Australia, we’re seeing explosive growth in the US, and we’ve turned to a New Zealand founded network just named as the best in the world.

“We met with agencies from all over the world for this brief – but the team from Special New Zealand really stood out. We’ve never had an external partner understand our challenges and our ambition like Special does. Together, we plan to transform W2W into a billion-dollar sports brand and follow our internal roadmap to unlock over $1 billion in revenue potential by 2025.”

Special is not the only major investor in W2W. It has also secured backing from News Corp’s Scale Up Media Fund that supports promising Australian businesses, and unlocked a further $7.5 million in funding earlier this year from Sandbar Investments, Altor Capital, Shaw & Partners and Lucerne Investment Partners.

“W2W is also popular amongst older and female-leaning demographics, which is fuelling the aggressive growth targets.”

W2W was founded with a single gym in 2012 by MMA coach Richie Cranny to create a pathway for absolute beginners to experience the benefits of training mixed martial arts.

In 2017, financial services executive Nick Langton became co-founder to exploit the the sport’s explosive growth and popularity. The global approach taken has drawn comparisons to CrossFit which successfully turned a niche market of high-performance training into a mainstream product.

Angus Benbow: The MMA audience is underserved – and very young. There are almost 600 million global fans, heavily funded professional leagues with the UFC alone generating $US1 billion in revenue last year – but there are few companies that convert ‘fandom’ into ‘participation’.

“It’s meant W2W has been able to easily convert MMA fans into participants; however it has also been popular amongst older and female-leaning demographics which is helping to fuel the aggressive growth targets.

“New Zealanders who are interested in experiencing the transformational fitness programme offered should find their nearest participating gym, including Auckland’s world-renowned City Kickboxing, home to UFC champion Israel Adesanya.”

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