Melbourne founders of Elite Eleven reveal how they built a $20 million fitness brand with no experience

Childhood friends who started selling training kits to football clubs six years ago now earn $20 million from their stylish yet affordable sportswear.

Lisandro Paz and Benn Martiniello, both 26, started Elite Eleven Sporting in 2015 without any knowledge of fashion – just a shared love of fitness between them.

The Melbourne friends, who have known each other since they were five, spent a year supplying uniforms to local teams before starting an online Shopify store of men’s tracksuits and t-shirts in 2016.

After being sold out for months, the duo released a collection of women’s workout clothes, which turned out to be the most lucrative move they’ve ever made.

Lisandro Paz (left) and Benn Martiniello (right) have been friends since they were five years old

Lisandro Paz (left) and Benn Martiniello (right) have been friends since they were five years old

The Melbourne friends started the clothing brand Elite Eleven Sporting in 2015 without any knowledge of fashion - just a shared love of fitness between them

The Melbourne friends started the clothing brand Elite Eleven Sporting in 2015 without any knowledge of fashion - just a shared love of fitness between them

They spent a year supplying uniforms to local soccer teams before creating an online Shopify store in 2016 filled with men's tracksuits and T-shirts.

They spent a year supplying uniforms to local soccer teams before creating an online Shopify store in 2016 filled with men's tracksuits and T-shirts.

The Melbourne friends started the clothing brand Elite Eleven Sporting in 2015 without any knowledge of fashion – just a shared love of fitness between them

With average sales of 75,000 units per month, Mr. Paz and Mr. Martiniello both took home six-figure salaries in 2020 and now employ 40 people.

In the past 12 months, they’ve doubled their sales, up from $10 million last year — not bad for best friends with no experience.

“It feels very surreal, we are just grateful for everything that has happened over the past few years and I am grateful that I was able to do all this with my best friend,” Paz told Daily Mail Australia.

Their clothing is affordable, with sweatpants starting at $45, sports bras starting at $45, and leggings starting at $50.

It’s all made in China, but customers have compared the quality to designer activewear labels like Lululemon, where comparable pieces cost $119.

After being sold out for months, the duo released a collection of women's workout clothes, which turned out to be the most lucrative move they've ever made.

After being sold out for months, the duo released a collection of women's workout clothes, which turned out to be the most lucrative move they've ever made.

After being sold out for months, the duo released a collection of women’s workout clothes, which turned out to be the most lucrative move they’ve ever made.

In the past 12 months, they've doubled their sales, up from $10 million last year - not bad for best friends with no experience

In the past 12 months, they've doubled their sales, up from $10 million last year - not bad for best friends with no experience

In the past 12 months, they’ve doubled their sales, up from $10 million last year – not bad for best friends with no experience

Mr. Paz has previously described the inspiration behind the multi-million dollar business.

“At first we wanted to start our own gym, but then we came up with the idea of ​​starting a fitness brand, we both thought we could give our own taste to the products,” he said.

The business partners believe the secret behind their extraordinary success is sticking to minimalist designs that stay in fashion regardless of the flash in the pan trends.

“Sometimes less is more and we really try to focus on the fit and function of our pieces,” explains Paz.

Their long history as friends has also given them an almost “telepathic understanding” of each other, which they take advantage of.

Their clothing is affordable, with sweatpants starting at $45 and leggings starting at $50

Their clothing is affordable, with sweatpants starting at $45 and leggings starting at $50

Customers have compared the quality to designer activewear labels like Lululemon, where comparable pieces cost $119

Customers have compared the quality to designer activewear labels like Lululemon, where comparable pieces cost $119

Their clothing is affordable, with sweatpants starting at $45 and leggings starting at $50, but customers have compared the quality to designer activewear labels like Lululemon

“We can have a disagreement without a disagreement, it will be nothing,” he said.

The couple has worked hard for the past six years to build a name and fortune for themselves, and they are eager to share the wealth with everyone who works for them.

“Benn and I believe we have created a fun and exciting workplace for both us and our employees,” said Mr. Paz.

The office is a playground for adults, filled with a ping pong table, a Nintendo game station and a basketball hoop where the team regularly shoots hoops.

“We have organized weekly tournaments to enhance the family atmosphere at HQ, which is so important to us,” said Paz.

‘We also believe that this kind of working environment is perfect for a company that regularly has to stimulate free ideas and new concepts.’

The couple has worked hard for the past six years to build a name and fortune for themselves, and they are eager to share the wealth with everyone who works for them.

The couple has worked hard for the past six years to build a name and fortune for themselves, and they are eager to share the wealth with everyone who works for them.

The couple has worked hard for the past six years to build a name and fortune for themselves, and they are eager to share the wealth with everyone who works for them.

The duo are preparing to take their business to the brick-and-mortar retail market in November by opening their first permanent store at the Highpoint Mall.

The duo are preparing to take their business to the brick-and-mortar retail market in November by opening their first permanent store at the Highpoint Mall.

The duo are preparing to take their business to the brick-and-mortar retail market in November by opening their first permanent store at the Highpoint Mall.

The duo are preparing to take their business to the brick-and-mortar retail market with its first permanent store in the Highpoint Shopping Center.

The store, expected to open in November, follows temporary pop-ups in Chadstone and Highpoint, which turned out to be huge hits.

Vanessa Spyrou, the brand’s social media coordinator, said a combination of digital and physical shopping is the “future” for young clothing brands.

“We truly believe the future of the retail space is to provide an omnichannel experience, where you can shop on your laptop, phone or in-store and it feels like one seamless shopping experience,” she explains.

‘You can buy something in the store and return it online and vice versa. We want these stores to be an extension of the brand.’

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