For years, Mike Doehla spent as many hours a day dreaming about his passion for fitness and nutrition as he did grinding away at his corporate day job. Then he did something about it. Today his diet-coaching company, Stronger U, has tens of thousands of clients around the world and hauled in more than $7 million in 2019 revenue, landing it at No. 567 on the Inc. 5000 with a three-year growth rate of 830 percent. The key to that impressive growth, says Mike, is community—but not the social-media-marketing kind. Stronger U members are simply passionate advocates, just like their community’s founder.
Mike was a typical kid from Newburgh, who came to SUNY Orange and was there from 2000 to 2004. When he left SUNY Orange, he got a job at a bank, and eventually transitioned to human resources. At this time, Mike was in his late 20s and just trying to figure stuff out.
He did like fitness, and started to think about how he could turn it into a career. Mike converted his garage into a gym and went into debt buying new equipment—barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, rowing machines—but it was still a cold garage, and he could only spend an hour or two a night training people. It didn’t work.
After about a year, he was spending a lot of time talking about nutrition on internet forums and Facebook. Mike had started digging into a lot of the textbooks and science and it was resonating with people. Mike did a nutrition talk at a local gym, and eight people showed up, but those eight people became clients. They started getting results, and they told others. Other gyms saw what was happening and wanted those results for their members. Eight people turned into twelve, into 24, into 100.
Stronger U Nutrition now has more than 32,000 clients in 50 countries. The company has nutrition coaches all over the country. And it all happened by word of mouth. Since day one, Mike has never thought about the money. He just helped people solve a real problem, a huge problem, that they had had most of their adult lives. It was the simplest thing.