• Form

A fireside chat with Form co-founder, Toby + Open Q&A

We go behind-the-scenes and speak to Form's co-founder, Toby Marshman about how and why he started Form, who he's inspired by and how he stays motivated.

To ask Toby any questions, please email us info@theform.co.uk - we look forward to chatting!

Co-founders Heidi and Toby for @therealkossie. Photo Credit @luke_weller

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I’ve always been passionate about the environment and I think my career subconsciously lead me to where I am today. I studied engineering at university with the aim of designing huge bridges and skyscrapers! Over the 4 years of study, my interest moved more towards business: I always aimed to start a business and felt that wouldn’t be easily done in the engineering industry.

When I gradated I started working as a management consultant at EY – advising a range of business types. I soon found my interest lay within the energy industry as I felt it had one of the largest environmental impacts so would be a good place to make a difference. While at EY, I started Form with my partner, Heidi, working on creating our vision in the evenings at weekends around work – it was certainly tiring building it around a full time job!

What inspired you to create a company with the mission like Form’s?

Heidi and I have already been passionate about sustainability and being keen on fitness, we realised a lot of the equipment people use in the gym is not good for the environment: the single-use plastic, the clothing and bags which are designed to fall apart after 6 months and kit which can't be recycled or biodegraded.

We wanted to create products at the intersection of these interests of sustainability and fitness and help our customers reduce their environmental impact.

What is your mission with Form? What are you working to achieve?

My personal mission at Form is to fundamentally change the way people workout. Both in the physical workout itself, where I want to help people perform better (and enjoy the experience more), but also in the impact that peoples’ workouts have on the environment.

Our mission at Form at a company is inspire sustainable change across the fitness industry (and beyond). I think there is a lot every company can do to improve their environmental impact –sustainability is not a destination, but a journey, we should be continually looking for ways to improve sustainability.

Why is sustainability so important to you?

Climate change and environmental degradation is the greatest threat facing the planet (and mankind) today – I don’t see how it could ever be seen as unimportant!

What motivates you to get up and go to work everyday? Do you have a specific goal you are working towards?

I think knowing I'm helping the environment, and people, to be healthier, is the main motivation that gets me up in the mornings. On a personal level I am motivated by my goal to run my own business which has been a dream since the age of 10!

Who are you inspired by?

I'd say Elon Musk and Richard Branson - I've read all their autobiographies / biographies and am inspired by their vision and the single-minded drive to successfully achieve their goals.

I find these two particularly interesting as the businesses they create are at completely different ends of the spectrum: Richard Branson creates companies which simply do an existing product or service that already exists better than anyone else, while Elon Musk does things no-one has ever done before, often creating entire industries in the process.

Can you recommend any books/podcasts/films that have helped or inspired you in developing your business?

My favourite podcast which I'm hooked on at the moment is The Tim Ferris Show. Each episode Tim interviews an individual of note, often successful business leaders, sharing their journey and the tools they use to achieve their successes.

Books I would recommend include:

How do you balance your personal and working life?

It can be difficult; Heidi and I have a couple of rules we try to stick to ensure help keep the balance as much as possible:

  • No work after 9pm: you have to have downtime to help reduce stress, while switching off before bed is important to get a good night's sleep, something too many people don't value enough;

  • At least one day off a week: working 7 days a week is not sustainable and will (and has) lead to burnout;

  • No Form time: we try to have 'no Form time' where we don't talk about the business and have normal conversations that couples do! I think this is important to help us switch off and relax.

Do you have any tips on how our readers can be more sustainable in everyday life?

This idea of "being sustainable" can be quite a hard thing to pin down as there are so many dimensions of our environmental impact. To reduce your environmental impact as much as possible, it's important to look at each dimension at what changes can be made.

I'd say the 3 main areas to focus on are:

  • Source - choose carefully where the products and services you buy come from and how they are made. Choose products which are made from recycled materials, avoid products which come from deforested land.

  • Carbon - we've written about calculating and reducing your carbon footprint previously so that's a good place to start. Basically, look at the four major contributors to our carbon emissions (travel, stuff, food and home) once you've identified your biggest 'carbon-sins' you can take steps to reduce them. Offsetting your carbon can also help too.

  • Waste - another topic we've written about before but when choosing your products, alongside the source mentioned above, also think about what happens to it at the end of life. If it can't be recycled or biodegraded - don't buy it. Avoid single-use items and prioritise products which are reusable and have a long lifespan.

What is your favourite quote?

"It's just one plastic bag' said 7 billion people"

I'm not sure who originally said this but I think it represents quite well the idea that everyone should be taking action - we can't rely on others to be making sustainable change, we all have to lead.

You can follow Toby's start-up journey on Instagram and Twitter - @tobyfjm

Read more from our Toby: 5 lessons I have learnt since starting Form >>

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