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‘I was broke and living with my parents’: How a 28-year-old built a multi-million dollar fitness empire from his bedroom with just $26

Tony Folly can still remember the exact moment he decided to build a business from scratch.

He was working at a camping store and his boss was showing off a new $400,000 sports car. He was only being paid $16 an hour to sell expensive ice coolers and barbecues.

‘I was only 19 at the time and knew from that day forward I wanted to start my own company,’ the now-28-year-old from Melbourne told FEMAIL.

From this to that! Tony Folly has come a long way since starting up a company on his bedroom floor
From this to that! Tony Folly has come a long way since starting up a company on his bedroom floor
From this to that! Tony Folly has come a long way since starting up a company on his bedroom floor
From this to that! Tony Folly has come a long way since starting up a company on his bedroom floor
When he started Tony(pictured)  was only earning $3 a day from Google Adsense and working on it for 12 hours at a time. But he had 'a gut feeling' it had potential
When he started Tony(pictured)  was only earning $3 a day from Google Adsense and working on it for 12 hours at a time. But he had ‘a gut feeling’ it had potential

‘Two months later and I locked myself up in my bedroom. Four days after SimplyShredded was born.

‘I was broke at the time and living with my parents. Due to being young and dumb I had a credit card debt of $2300 with no idea how to pay it off. At any given time my personal bank account was always in the range of -$50 or $50.

‘All I had to invest into SimplyShredded of my own money was $26 and this was in 2009. The website name was only $10 and back then a years worth of hosting on a ‘shared web server’ was only $16 a year.

‘I guess you could say that was the best 26 dollars I ever spent.’

When he started Tony was only earning $3 a day from Google Adsense and working on it for 12 hours at a time. But he had ‘a gut feeling’ it had potential.

The premise of the website was to share interviews and features with some of the 'jaw dropping' physiques in the fitness scene (pictured is Alice Matos)
The premise of the website was to share interviews and features with some of the ‘jaw dropping’ physiques in the fitness scene (pictured is Alice Matos)
'I started to contact athletes and models who were shredded and interview them on the site,' he explained
‘I started to contact athletes and models who were shredded and interview them on the site,’ he explained
'I started to contact athletes and models who were shredded and interview them on the site,' he explained
‘I started to contact athletes and models who were shredded and interview them on the site,’ he explained

The premise of the website was to share interviews and features with some of the ‘jaw dropping’ physiques in the fitness scene.

‘I started to contact athletes and models who were shredded and interview them on the site,’ he explained.

‘My only source of traffic at the time was leveraging their fan base. So I rinse and repeated this and after a while I noticed the brand started to gain traction.’

Lazar Angelov, Simeon Panda, Sergie Constance, Calum Von Moger, Michelle Lewin, Greg Plitt, Jeff Seid and Ulisses Jr have all featured on the website – sometimes even crashing it when it’s a particularly popular athlete – alongside a range of nutritional information and training articles.

'My only source of traffic at the time was leveraging their fan base. So I rinse and repeated this and after a while I noticed the brand started to gain traction,' he said
‘My only source of traffic at the time was leveraging their fan base. So I rinse and repeated this and after a while I noticed the brand started to gain traction,’ he said
Tony has been offered two serious offers in the last nine years - one for $1 million from a competitor and another for $2.7 million by a private equity firm in Canada. But he turned both down
Tony has been offered two serious offers in the last nine years – one for $1 million from a competitor and another for $2.7 million by a private equity firm in Canada. But he turned both down

Today the website has three million Facebook fans and two million followers on Instagram with half a million views per month.

Tony has been offered two serious offers in the last nine years – one for $1 million from a competitor and another for $2.7 million by a private equity firm in Canada. But he turned both down.

‘All I thought about was how the founder of Victoria’s Secret Roy Raymond threw himself off a bridge,’ Tony said.

‘The saddest part about Raymond’s life is that he killed himself after not being able to participate fully in the potential of his company.

‘Raymond opened the first Victoria’s Secret shop in Northern California in 1977. They named the company after the Victorian period during which their home was built.

'All I thought about was how the founder of Victoria's Secret Roy Raymond threw himself off a bridge,' Tony said
‘All I thought about was how the founder of Victoria’s Secret Roy Raymond threw himself off a bridge,’ Tony said
Now Tony flies business class around the world and visits glamorous locations like Dubai and Vegas (pictured) in his down time
Now Tony flies business class around the world and visits glamorous locations like Dubai and Vegas (pictured) in his down time

How did Tony build a multi-million dollar company from scratch?

‘In 1982 he made the horrible mistake of selling the company for $5 million to Leslie Wexner, founder of The Limited. The company is now valued at $13 billion.’

Now Tony flies business class around the world and visits glamorous locations like Dubai in his down time.

But most important he feels as though he’s making a genuine difference.

‘Every fortnight, or sometimes every week now I receive an email from people who have transformed their physiques with the help of the 12 Week Shred program that the Simplyshredded team created,’ he said.

‘Usually we get a lot of emails from the younger crowd but just last month I received a surprising email from a 61 year old lady who made some amazing progress! She has been able to maintain all of her results and loves the simplicity of counting her macros and utilizing the carb cycling approach.’

Above all else Tony feels as though he has his first boss to thank for his success.

‘It is funny to think that if it wasn’t for that day my boss had to be a show off I reckon my life would have been a lot different,’ he explained.

‘I’d probably be still working at that camping store.’

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