CEO Connect Recap: Amanda Tress talks growth and failures

By the age of 30, Amanda Tress wanted to be a millionaire. She checked that “to-do” off her list a few years prior. 

She met her retirement goals by 2018. She was only 32.

In 2022, FASTer Way to Fat Loss, Tress’ Clearwater-based company, had revenue of $47.5 million. In 2023, it’s estimated to break $55 million in revenue.

She has more than 280,000 social media followers. She’s a business owner, mother of five and a wife. 

Tampa Bay Business and Wealth held its July CEO Connect with Tress, chief executive officer of FASTer Way to Fat Loss, at the USF Muma College of Business, in Tampa.

Bridgette Bello, CEO and publisher of TBBW, interviewed Tress in front of a live audience. This interview has been edited for length and brevity.

See photos from the event here.

Tell us what it’s been like being on the cover of TBBW.

I have heard from so many colleagues. I’ve heard from so many contacts in the Tampa Bay community who read the magazine who were so impressed with the feature. From neighbors to the pastor of my church, to colleagues, to people I haven’t heard from in five years, [they] are texting me and calling me. They see me on the street and wave me down and tell me they loved the feature. So, it has been really wonderful. I posted on social media, right when the article came out, and had hundreds of clients in my community reposting and responding and [who were] just very impressed with the piece so I’m extremely grateful. 

Keeping in mind that this is a room full of business owners and people who lead companies, tell us your secret to such rapid revenue growth in such a short amount of time. 

I was in college when Facebook came onto the scene and I immediately decided to use Facebook to market my training business. I was a personal trainer through college. I actually had five jobs at any one time. I wanted to leave college without debt, which I know is rare but that was my plan. So, the minute Facebook came onto the scene, I started using it to market my business. I would be on the phone with Facebook employees way back when, I mean ground floor. And, the minute they came out with advertising, I started using Facebook for advertising. But, quickly, I decided that I could probably become a millionaire, but I might also need some help to get there. And I didn’t have a million followers. But, I was committed to this concept of ‘wow, maybe I can still become a millionaire without a million followers.’ But I’m going to need an army of people to help me get there. So, I was one of the first people in the marketplace to really empower an army of ambassadors and this was way back in 2008 or 2009.

While you were having a baby…

On my delivery bed. That is true. When it comes to success, momentum and growth, it really is because of micro-influencer marketing. Outside of that, I would say I have an ability to focus. I have a ruthless focus and boundaries. I don’t simply manage my time, I manage my focus. I went for three years, as I started to really grow my company, without ever once checking email. Because I was so focused on just putting my head down and only doing the things that would move the needle. 

Have you ever failed or had to learn a really tough lesson where it wasn’t so easy, or not so perfect?

I feel that success is just many, many failures along the way in the ability to fail fast and to fail forward. Some of my biggest failures, more recently, have been hiring the wrong person for my team or I hire someone who is not the right fit for my size of company. So, even in the recent 18 months I’ve hired executives who I thought could come in and really help us go from the $58 million this year, that we’re going to earn, to the $250 million that I want to earn in three to five years. But, sometimes, I’ll hire someone who’s just a little too senior, maybe they’re two levels too senior. They come in and they’re unable to really dig into a startup and be successful. 

At what point do you know that?

Typically, I know that pretty fast. I would say the most recent fail, on my end, when it came to hiring, I knew within five weeks. It costs me money, and time, but I would rather say the minute I have an inclination this isn’t going to work out, let’s go ahead and transition that particular individual out. 

I was enamored by your followers. I’m curious why you chose to stay off the radar in your own community?

That’s a great question. And, first of all, I will say, we are fairly new to Tampa. So, my husband and I have been together since first grade. We lived up North as I was starting this company; we were in Ohio. He was at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And, only a few years ago, we decided that it would be better to move to Tampa Bay and raise the kids. 

I’m going to use this momentum and connect in a really powerful way. I don’t necessarily think it was a strategy. It was more so just staying very, very focused on only the task at hand, which was moving the needle with the company, which we have done. Now I’ll be able to kind of get out and spend a little bit more time getting to know all of you.

Why Tampa Bay?

We love the entrepreneurial ecosystem, specifically in Belleair and Clearwater. I have several colleagues who have, in recent years, in the past five years, moved to Belleair, Clearwater and South Tampa. [The area] was kind of on my radar. St. Pete is becoming more popular for colleagues of mine, as well. My husband and I had traveled here for years and we had a condo. I was familiar with the area because my grandparents lived here. Once we moved here, we kept our house for a year up north, because we kind of just wanted to test it. And within a few months, we’re like, nope, we’re all in. This is where we’re raising our kids. This is where we want to grow the business. 

What is the one thing in your business that you’re unwilling to sacrifice, no matter what?

First, and foremost, integrity. I would never, ever sacrifice integrity. And that’s something that we’re very clear on with our entire team and our community. Occasionally, there will be an error, there will be something not formulated correctly with the protein. We’re always going to make it right. We’re always going to do the right thing, regardless of how it impacts the bottom line. What we found is, anytime we immediately go to the community or go to the certified coaches and say, ‘Okay, here’s what happened, here’s what we’re going to do,’ it always does pay off in the long run. We’re absolutely unwilling to sacrifice integrity. In general, I’m unwilling to sacrifice quality time with my kids, as well. 

What’s next for FASTer Way to Fat Loss?

I am very focused on the next milestone of having a billion-dollar valuation. We’ve proven the concept. We have traction in the marketplace. We’ve had, now, 315,000 clients go through the program. We have incredible margins because we’re a digital program. We are ramping up the franchise side of the business. This year, we’re in a phase where we are slowing down to speed up. We are laying a better technology foundation. We have some amazing team members internally, and teams on the outside, who are helping us lay a better foundation and create more scalability within our technology stack and the tech architecture. But, once we hit 2024, the plan is to put the pedal to the metal and scale. 

Up until this point, we’ve really grown organically. We’ve done no paid advertising or very little. I’m hoping to get to that billion-dollar valuation within the next three to five years. 

We should be the next Weight Watchers. We should be the next Beachbody. We should be the next Jenny Craig. I am extremely committed to bringing integrity back into nutrition and fitness, which is a channel, or category, that has grossly lacked integrity over the past several decades. 

We’re wrapping up a clinical trial with ASPI, right here in Tampa, which is very exciting. We’re going to be the next billion-dollar brand in the category.

This is kind of a silly question, because you’re so young, but if there were a younger version of Amanda, in a $55 million business, what piece of advice would you give her? What would you tell her to do? 

I think I would tell my younger self to block out the haters, or the naysayers, even earlier. It’s something that I learned fairly young. I distinctly remember being in rooms at conferences and colleagues would say, ‘You can’t monetize fasting, you can’t monetize intermittent fasting, that’ll never work.’ It would slow me down a bit and make me second-guess myself. I wish that I would have just blocked it out, even sooner in my career, and just said, you know, I’m very confident in the program that I have created. 

My last, and favorite question, that I’m sure everybody in the room wants to know the answer to is, do you ever just eat a pizza?

[Laughter] Pizza, not so much. However, we have a treat day in my community where we eat doughnuts, pastries or pizza. It’s typically on Saturday. We do carb cycling. Saturdays are big, heavy leg days, so we lift very, very heavy. My kids know when it’s leg day and they’re consistently asking, ‘Is it leg day?’ ♦


TBBW’s “CEO Connect” series is an exclusive, invitation-only, event that brings together the Tampa Bay area’s top business leaders to meet and mingle. Southstate and Talent Cloud Staffing were presenting sponsors. The host sponsor was the USF Muma College of Business. 

TBBW’s video partner is Empowering Creative.

The evening begins with a cocktail reception for about 120 guests, followed by an interview with that month’s cover CEO.

Partnering with TBBW on future editions provides an opportunity to network with the area’s business elite, generate new business opportunities and increase brand awareness.

For information about event sponsorship opportunities, email Jason Baker at
[email protected].

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