The story of Edgard Corona, the visionary founder and CEO of Smart Fit, is one of entrepreneurship, innovation, and transformative leadership. From humble beginnings to becoming one of the newest Brazilian billionaires after Smart Fit’s IPO debut, Corona’s journey is a testament to the power of determination and the pursuit of a vision that revolutionizes industries. In 1996, Corona took the first step towards his fitness empire by establishing the first Bio Ritmo gym in Santo Amaro, São Paulo, despite having limited experience in the fitness industry. This bold move set the stage for the creation of a fitness revolution that would change the way people approach fitness.
Though Corona initially pursued a degree in Chemical Engineering at FAAP, life presented him with a new path when he faced challenges in his family’s sugar and alcohol mill. Fueled by his passion for swimming, Corona decided to establish a swimming academy, laying the foundation for his larger vision of a fitness empire.
However, it was in 2009 that the true game-changer occurred—the launch of Smart Fit, a revolutionary “low-cost” fitness concept that disrupted the industry and democratized access to fitness. This groundbreaking model quickly gained popularity, propelling Smart Fit to become the largest gym network in Latin America, boasting over 360 branches. BM&C’s detailed analysis of Edgard Corona’s entrepreneurial journey reveals the key factors that contributed to Smart Fit’s meteoric success and his inclusion among Brazil’s newest billionaires after the IPO debut.
A Journey in the Industry:
Edgard Corona’s path to success was not without its share of challenges. Inheriting a struggling sugar cane mill in the mid-1990s, he displayed remarkable business acumen and turned it into the 13th largest producer in Brazil. However, a shareholder dispute led to his departure from the company, marking the end of his career in the sugar mill industry. Unfazed by setbacks, Corona shifted his focus to the swimming academy—an area that aligned with his passion for swimming. Drawing inspiration from business experts, he introduced swimming pools and circuit training spaces to the academy’s offerings, making it a more comprehensive fitness center.
Additionally, he embraced the concept of “metanoia,” a management approach that emphasizes employee participation in decision-making. Absorbing insights from the fitness industry in the US, Corona recognized the potential for democratizing fitness in Brazil. This realization laid the foundation for the innovative “low-cost” model of Smart Fit, which would revolutionize the fitness landscape in Latin America. The gym chain standardized facilities, employed motivational lighting, and offered affordable pricing, making fitness accessible to a diverse demographic.
Fortune Surges in IPO Debut:
The IPO debut of Smart Fit on the B3 was nothing short of spectacular. The company’s shares (SMFT3) surged by 34.78%, closing at R$ 31.00 per share. The IPO raised an impressive R$ 2.3 billion, catapulting Edgard Corona’s fortune to an estimated R$ 1.6 billion, according to Forbes. The remarkable success of Smart Fit’s IPO reflects investor confidence in Corona’s visionary leadership and the company’s potential for continued growth. The funds raised will be strategically deployed to fuel Smart Fit’s expansion across Latin America, solidifying its position as the region’s leading fitness provider.