This article is by forbes.com. It’s a great story of spotting a marketing opportunity and cashing in.and originally appeared in 2014 on
What is the definition of “fitness model?” It was a hotly discussed topic after FORBES published an article on the popular Paige Hathaway, including the Internet sensation as part of a rapidly expanding fitness model classification. The article also raised general awareness for a brand that Paige promotes — SHREDZ — a direct marketing nutritional supplement company. After some investigating it seems that the company Hathaway has partnered with may have an even more interesting story than the fitness model with over 700,000 Instagram followers.
Start with the fact that SHREDZ, founded by current CEO Arvin Lal, earned $90,000 in 2012 (the first year of its operation), $5 million gross revenue in 2013 and already topped $2.7 million through the middle of March in 2014. What makes those numbers more impressive is that Lal and his team have achieved such remarkable revenues without any outside invested capital, only 21 employees (most of them living in-house within the SHREDZ office, which is a converted apartment complex) and purely digital promotion.
Lal has captured the rapidly growing fitness space by going against the grain. He also has a message to those who question whether his endorser, Paige Hathaway is really a fitness model: stop being upset. “Fitness used to be bodybuilding, but today fitness is impacting more people than ever,” said Lal to FORBES. “Right now the word ‘fitness’ has peeked on Google. It’s about being healthy and in shape. Who’s to say the person on stage has better fitness or body than a person with a million Instagram follows? Paige is probably the largest female fitness model across the world. Marketing and being able to touch people off the stage is more important than being able to touch people on the stage.”
SHREDZ is first and foremost a marketing company that has been able to achieve success in the fitness world through its devotion to social media. It spent a year analyzing various forms of social media and in 2013 decided that Instagram would be the next important social media platform. Understanding that fitness is very aesthetic and digitally stimulating, the key was being able to effectively communicate with people on a platform that drove likes and engagement and was trending. Instagram has served as SHREDZ’s medium to captivate an audience and make money. According to Lal, the trend for his company is about 15-20% growth month-over-month in gross revenue.
“Social media is the driving engine; in the back-end, we are actually a marketing company. We just happen to enjoy fitness and see it as a market where you can make good revenue and help people,” said Lal. After initially comparing his company to Herbalife, Lal retreated from that position and chose Google as an appropriate connection. “Even though we are not creating a platform, we are innovating it.”
SHREDZ started in Lal’s parents’ basement and is now working with the likes of Paige Hathaway, Ainsley Rodriguez, Jay Sean and is in talks with a major athlete to begin endorsing the brand. Lal wants somebody else besides himself selling and representing his products, but is clear in pointing out that SHREDZ does not “sponsor” people. “We create a partnership where we not only just saying ‘you’re sponsored’; we facilitate photo shoots, video shoots, publicity, etc.,” explained Lal. “Paige [Hathaway] had 8,000 followers when she came on with us. We came together and created a bigger picture. I’m humbled by thousands of emails we get for sponsorship. If a person makes the right impression, we just know. You don’t need the highest follower count. We can make them a fitness celebrity.”
While Arvin Lal admits that he runs more of a marketing company than a nutritional supplement company (even though his company operates in that space), he is quick to point out that without a quality product, all of his marketing would be for naught. He claims that the difference between SHREDZ and other companies is that he does not have a board of directors telling him what he can and cannot do. “I’m willing to spend the extra dollars for the product,” said Lal, who has that freedom based on not seeking outside investors.
SHREDZ supplements is shredding through the competition with a focus on social media marketing and associating with talent able to capture and cultivate large followings. It is happy to absorb the criticism that those individuals are not truly fitness models, because they do not all participate in bodybuilding competitions. At the end of the day, it is the bottom-line that matters, and SHREDZ is looking at the $2.7 million it has brought in year-to-date without a worry in the world.