The Rise of Maxim: A Business Built from Scratch

In the realm of men's lifestyle magazines, one name is consistently on the lips of readers and critics alike: Maxim. A British export that has taken the world by storm, Maxim was the brainchild of Felix Dennis, a media mogul with a knack for knowing what men want. This article will delve into the rise of the Maxim empire, tracing its journey from a budding idea to a global sensation.


The Man behind the Magazine: Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis, a self-made media magnate, was the driving force behind Maxim's rise to the top. Born into humble beginnings, Dennis was a trailblazer in the publication industry. Despite the lack of a formal education, he harnessed his natural wit, business acumen, and relentless work ethic to build one of the most successful media empires the world has ever seen.

The Birth of Maxim

Dennis' first foray into publishing came with the launch of Maxim in the UK. Designed as a magazine for young men, Maxim quickly stood out for its unapologetic and tongue-in-cheek content. With sections dedicated to everything from sports and beer to gadgets and fitness, the magazine was a hit with its targeted demographic.

The Maxim Philosophy: More than Just a Magazine

One of the key factors in Maxim's success was its unique philosophy. Dennis believed that a magazine should be more than just a collection of articles; it should be a lifestyle guide. Rather than simply reporting on the latest trends, Maxim aimed to shape them. This philosophy was reflected in the magazine's content, which included everything from reviews of TV dinners to investment ideas and etiquette tips.

Maxim Takes on the World

Bolstered by its success in the UK, Dennis set his sights on the international market. In 1997, he launched an American version of Maxim, despite many doubting the magazine's potential in the already crowded US market. However, Dennis' fearless approach and knack for understanding his audience paid off. The US edition of Maxim quickly outstripped established titles such as GQ and Esquire in terms of circulation, proving that there was indeed room for another men's magazine.

Success Breeds Success: The Expansion of the Maxim Brand

Following the success of Maxim in the US, Dennis turned his attention to other markets. Maxim is now published in nine countries and seven languages, demonstrating the universal appeal of the brand. But the Maxim empire didn't stop there. Dennis also launched a number of other successful titles, including Stuff, Maxim Fashion, The Week, and Blender. Each of these publications brought something new to the table, but all shared the distinct Maxim brand of wit and irreverence.

Maxim's Impact: Shaping Men's Lifestyle Magazines

The success of Maxim has had a profound impact on men's lifestyle magazines. In many ways, Maxim has rewritten the rulebook for what a men's magazine can be. Its blend of humour, advice, and risqué content has proven a winning formula, and many other publications have followed suit.

The Legacy of Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on in the pages of Maxim and the other titles he created. His unique approach to publishing and his fearless attitude towards business transformed the world of men's lifestyle magazines and set a new standard for what such a publication could achieve.

The Future of Maxim

Despite the loss of its founder, Maxim continues to thrive. The magazine remains a powerhouse in the men's lifestyle market, and its influence can be seen in many other publications. As Maxim moves forward, it will continue to embody the spirit of Felix Dennis: bold, irreverent, and always ready to take a risk.


The story of Maxim is a testament to the power of a good idea, a clear vision, and a fearless approach to business. From its humble beginnings in the UK to its status as a global media powerhouse, Maxim's journey is a masterclass in building a successful business from scratch. Felix Dennis may no longer be with us, but his legacy lives on in every page of Maxim.

In an ever-changing media landscape, Maxim's continued success is a testament to the enduring appeal of its unique brand of wit and irreverence. As readers around the world continue to turn to Maxim for their dose of lifestyle advice, one thing is clear: the Maxim empire is here to stay.

Back to blog

Stories for Startups.

Get Smarter Every Week - We Send You Cool Stories About People Making Money, and Tell You How They Did It.

Stop anytime.