Wimp 2 Warrior turns to tech and raises $7.5m to launch tech platform

Global Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym tech company Wimp 2 Warrior (W2W) is extending its core offering from a gym program to a global platform, via funds secured through the recent closing of an oversubscribed $7.5 million growth round.

The funding involved News Corp Scaleup Media Fund, Mark Bouris, the Smorgon family’s Sandbar Investments, Altor Capital, Shaw & Partners, and Lucerne Investment Partners.

W2W was targeting $5 million but increased the round by 50% due to enormous demand.

Funding for Wimp 2 Warrior’s platform launch

Former Winning Group and Compare the Market technology executive, James Fleet, has been appointed to the newly-created role of W2W Chief Technology Officer to manage the global roll-out of the platform technology, and has begun to build out W2W’s technology team.

The platform, which is akin to marketplace models like wellbeing technology company, MindBody, is currently being trialed by several gyms to drive customer acquisition, improve retention, streamline payments and onboarding.

This will completely transform the delivery of W2W’s proprietary UFC-inspired MMA programs.

The new tech platform will be rolled out across W2W’s 140+ participating gyms across 9 countries including Australia, the U.K., Ireland, North America, the UAE, NZ, and India, and become available to millions of members, and ultimately any MMA gym in the world.

It will also be used to later launch B2C MMA fitness and training programs which will allow consumers to be trained by the most decorated MMA coaches and athletes from the comfort of their own homes, such as W2W co-founder and coach of Conor McGregor, John Kavanagh.

The oversubscribed raise follows a previous $2 million investment from top Australian executives in W2W in 2018, including ex-MLC CEO Geoff Lloyd, former Foxtel boss Richard Freudenstein, Village Roadshow veteran Graham Burke, and Origin Energy CEO Frank Calabria.

Parent company of the UFC, Endeavor Group Holdings, also recently closed more than half a billion in its NYSE trading debut after UFC Fight Pass subscriptions rose 40 per cent and reported the highest pay-per-view sales in company history during COVID-19.

W2W caters to a global MMA fan base of around 650 million and has been supported by UFC champions Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya, and Australia’s Alex Volkanovski.

Wimp 2 Warrior founders’ reaction to the funding

John Kavanagh said, “The incredible success of the UFC has helped MMA to become the fastest-growing sports vertical in the world. Just as CrossFit made functional training globally popular and highly profitable for strength and conditioning gyms, we aim to do the same for MMA.”

“Building an underlying technology similar to MindBody, and rolling out a W2W program distribution strategy that can add 30 to 40% to the top-line revenue of every gym we partner with, will be absolutely transformational for both W2W and our partner gyms.”

Nick Langton, co-founder and CEO at W2W said, “This fresh capital will be used to accelerate the build of our technology, super-charge our global growth, and attract some of the world’s best executives to take us into the next phase of our development.”

“Were it not for the pandemic, W2W would have already eclipsed eight figures of annual revenue last year – though we are still not far behind that.”

“I believe that the most valuable company in the combat sports ecosystem will be the one that converts fandom into participation. Our mission is to do just that, by becoming the end-to-end platform for combat sports academies to connect with and monetise MMA fans globally.”

James Fleet, CTO at W2W said, “I live and breathe technology due to a strong belief in the power of continuous innovation to deliver business outcomes at any scale.”

“Being able to apply my skills in this area to such a formidable global powerhouse as Wimp 2 Warrior is beyond a dream come true.” 

Commentary from Wimp 2 Warrior investors

Richard Skimin, Managing Director at News.com.au & eCommerce, and chairman of Scaleup Mediafund said, “We are excited to work with the Wimp 2 Warrior team to build their brand.”

“ScaleUp Mediafund will bring audiences at scale to Wimp 2 Warrior so that everyday Australians can experience the impact of life-changing mixed martial arts training.”

Darren Smorgon, Managing Director at Sandbar Investments said, “What has impressed us most about W2W is the passion and vision of Nick Langton and John Kavanagh.”

“They have done a fantastic job to attract the highest profile professionals in the MMA. The global reach of MMA also means that the scalability of the business model is potentially huge.”

David McNamee, Director at Altor Capital said, “W2W provides a unique exposure into the fast-growing MMA market with the best operators and the largest global social media reach.”

“The proposition the W2W platform offered to a large but fragmented gym sector leverages its customer proposition more powerfully and activates a proven growth strategy.”

“There’s a clear runway for consolidation of existing players and a great growth strategy.”