It’s going to take a lot longer than you think. Plan as much as you can before committing. Once you’ve committed BE PATIENT AND trust the process. My first prototype I was told would take 7 weeks, I was still project managing 7 months later to get it right even then it was a disaster and I had to go back to the drawing board.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing SPARBAR founder Jasvinder “Jazz” Gill.
London-based Jasvinder “Jazz” Gill is the inventor of the boxing, MMA and fitness training device SPARBAR, which quickly became a global viral sensation. Founded in 2013, the brand single handedly became game changers of combat sports training with their innovative concept of training with a simulation of a human sparring partner. Jazz went through the hardships of entrepreneurship when he went from idea to market the product, with copy cats and “false friends” along the way.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always had a love for boxing. During training I came across the idea, and instantly had the vision to bring this concept to market.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Never having run my own business and with no experience in taking concept to market with nothing but surplus funds from my monthly salary to work with you are already at the no win against all the odds situation without even realizing. The chances that you’ll succeed are very slim to say the least, the lack of knowledge and not having embarked in any kind of project of this nature actually helped. If I knew what I am getting into I would have never started.
I very quickly realized every mistake you make is an expensive one — especially when you lack the knowledge. It started getting difficult when every penny counts, IP costs patent & trademark, concepts, prototyping are all not cheap and as you get further involved so do the costs associated with this.
I will also add getting people to believe in your vision is also met with adversity. I found lots of doubters and negativity.
Raising the money was extremely difficult. I was taking on additional work (web development) to fund the project and working over 80 hours a week to raise money and that was nowhere enough. With a young family and some weeks living with a food budget of £6 was not easy. There were times when I thought honestly I really am living on the brink between success and failure. Home gone, cars sold, even wedding rings. This journey is not for feint hearted.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I had a self-belief that I will succeed, I have an obsessive personality and there is no quit in me. I aim high and have a positive attitude even in adversity, the drive comes from within and the passion that you can make your vision a reality through hard work, drive ambition and the sheer will to succeed and be the gamechanger !!!
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
My brand is a global viral brand with over 300+ Million video views with the likes of Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Roy Jones Jr, Usher and Even Kevin Hart just to mention but a few as users of our products.
SPARBAR is the pioneers in its market space as the Inventor of a SPARBAR — “The world famous sparring partner”, we are in process of listing as a public company on NYSE with some amazing people involved in our company and more recently have signed off our own exclusive 1 ha purpose built SPARBAR factory in the trade free zone of Cebu, in the Philippines.
Its took 9 years to get to this stage, it has taken every last drop of blood, sweat and tears to bring SPARBAR to where it is. Without resilience you can never bounce back from your failures, these failures pave the way forward to your success even though at the time you feel like the whole world is conspiring against you.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Yes sure, we represent the under dogs of this world, where no one gave us a chance, from a stick in a bucket concept to becoming a global viral brand recognized in boxing, MMA and combat sports and pioneers.
The company has the story of any fighter, the journey is full of highs and lows and setbacks, our company is living proof you do need huge marketing & advertising budgets, investment, PR etc to become successful, you can achieve dizzy heights through organic means which for me says more about the company than other high profile brands, it tells me that yes we are a gamechanger a pioneer and leader.
We now have the attention of other companies/brands that look at us to discover how we achieved our milestones.
We simply are a next generation brand in every sense of the word. What I mean by this is we attract the under belly younger audience who love boxing, MMA and other mainstream combat sports which really very rare for brands in today’s climate. Our senior and junior ambassador program is proof of this with active 50 high achievers already enrolled including 19 year old gold Olympic gold medalists to 13 year old world champions.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would definitely advise to invest in your health and make sure you have a good balance with work. Easier said than done at the time because you have to remember success is not an over-night thing, it never will be. It will take much longer than you think. I say this because not to put you off but from experience. There were stressful times where I would be on 5 different time zones for days, months and was suffering from migraines which were unbearable and that really started to effect the business.
You have to find a right balance, spend time with your family, friends etc as they are the ones that will always support you and allow you to achieve your vision and goals.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who share the same vision and have the passion that you do. I am so lucky I have met the most amazing people on this journey and they share the same vision of SPARBAR. They are some of most trusted advisors and to have them in my corner is truly and blessing and the reason that allows me to spend more time with my family and on myself so I can continue evolving as a founder and dad husband and person.
Its ok to slow down and evaluate where you are. REMEMBER Rome was not built in a day BUT it was built !!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
People have come and gone however, it will be my wife Sandra, we’ve been together for 15 years now and we have 2 beautiful children, Angelina, 5, and Ariana, 2. When I embarked on this journey we were engaged and they were not even born. We spent our time on holidays, in fact 5 per year sometimes and traveling the world with not much to think about other than which country to visit next.
She’s kept me down to earth and allowed me to immerse myself into creating the brand and grow the company, without her by myside I would never be able to do what I do. It’s as simple as that.
Sandra and our children are the driving motivation for me.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I started an ambassador program over 2 years ago and this supports the grass roots of combat sports. We have over 50 children from 12 year old to senior professionals now and we have a waiting list of over 500.
We give them all customized kit and products and have regular ambassador days where we provide training and content to get them out there and noticed.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s going to take a lot longer than you think. Plan as much as you can before committing. Once you’ve committed BE PATIENT AND trust the process. My first prototype I was told would take 7 weeks, I was still project managing 7 months later to get it right even then it was a disaster and I had to go back to the drawing board.
- Protect your idea. If you have an invention, make sure you consult a good patent / IP attorney make sure you fully understand the levels of protection and the cost implications attached with them. Do your research in the current market, this will save you a lot time and money. Many of the IP required initially to protect your idea(s) you can do online yourself.
- Choose your partnerships carefully. In general partnerships are easy to get into but very difficult to get out of. Be very careful about who choose as a partner make sure you do not go in blind, do extensive research and make sure you make the right decision, you do not get many chances to get this right. They have to add value and you cannot afford any hangers on, this will only slow you down. If you want a fruitful partner whether it’s an investor or an accountant.
- Be prepared for failures embrace and learn from them.
Failure is part of success, there will many along the way. I failed multiple times but each was a lesson learned. I had so many issues with manufacturing quality and be able to deliver on time to the standard I expect, I have gone through 4 different manufacturers to the product high quality, the reason being not settling for low standards. It will only be a failure if you allow it to be one. You will come across a lot of doubters and negativity and non-believers, even those you thought were your closest friends. Do not be deterred. This your personal growth and the journey is not going to be for everyone. It’s your drive and commitment, desire and passion that will deliver your vision. Remember that and you will be fine. Some of who I thought were my closest friends have distanced themselves at times of hardship but one thing is for sure you’ll attract the right people at the right time when you need them.
- It’s going to cost more than you think.
Make sure you have a good business plan, do a case study on the cost implications. If you do not have a financial forecast or benchmark of what your idea will cost do not start, there are plenty of resources and case studies online and schemes that will help you.
Having idea is cheap, bringing the idea to market can be very expensive and even that does not guarantee success and ROI. Make sure you have a good business plan and financial forecast. I really wish I had done this from the outset, It would have given me real expectations and I would have not found myself in debt I was in from chasing my vision. There were times when my 1 year old daughter was sleeping on nothing but a mattress in a molded damp rotten room and I had to find another job. Luckily for me it paid off, but I would never want any entrepreneur to go through what me and my family did.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It has to be on an epic social enterprise level, we have the idea of opening up popup gyms that will serve deprived communities around the world and help less fortunate discover sport as a way out.
All the greatest fighters current and past have one thing in common, they all came from humble beginnings and adversity just like SPARBAR. We totally resonate with this and have already started to build our own foundation. I truly hope to find the next generation Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Ronda Rousey, Muhammed Ali or even Bruce Lee. It’s a tall ask, but that’s the beauty of dreaming, unless we do not dream it will never become reality. At SPARBAR we dream BIG!!!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@sparbarboxing IG & FB
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!