Learn more about Augustana alum and entrepreneur Tony Nguyen
Tony Nguyen was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon and moved to Alberta after high school to attend Augustana Faculty and play for the Vikings Basketball team. In 2015, Nguyen began his personal training career at the World Health Club. Nguyen soon opened his own personal training company, F.R.E.E. Fitness Inc. located in downtown Edmonton. F.R.E.E. Fitness is the only “Pay How You Feel” personal training company in Alberta.
In 2018, Nguyen launched Edmonton’s first carpooling-based rideshare service, MyCarpoolPal, an online web application designed to provide drivers undertaking long-distance journey’s of 50km or more with an easy and convenient option for recouping their travel costs. Drivers can register with MyCarpoolPal and post their trips to the platform, and passengers can browse the posted scheduled trips and book what works for them.
The Augustana Medium asked Nguyen a few questions about his time as a student and his current work:
What did you enjoy most about your time as an Augustana student?
While being a student at Augustana, I enjoyed the social events organized by the student council and the University. Whether that was sports events, community events or cultural events, these organized “get-togethers” helped me connect with more students and professors with similar interests. This helped me build long and lasting relationships with people who still support my interests and business to this day.
How did your Augustana degree equip you for your future careers/opportunities?
I completed my Bachelor of Science while attending Augustana University. This provided a strong background for my personal training career as my day to day requirements encompasses helping people improve their physical and mental health. Besides completing my degree, being a student-athlete developed highly valuable and transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and time management. These skills, among others, have prepared me to start two separate businesses: F.R.E.E. Fitness (3 years) and MyCarpoolPal (2 months) in Edmonton.
What are some challenges you have faced as an entrepreneur?
The major challenge facing most entrepreneurs is how to make your business stand out above others. There are so many new businesses starting up that it can become very overwhelming with all the information and tasks required to successfully open your business. The fear of “operating” a business can also be very daunting. It’s important to know that entrepreneurship is not for everybody. However, for those who enjoy the positive (and negative) aspects of running your business, it can be incredibly liberating and empowering.
What advice would you give to students who are pursuing
In order to run a successful business for an extended period of time, your business needs to solve issues centred around people. We often get lost with all the new trends and inventions that we try to re-invent the entire wheel. However, most successful businesses make small improvements to what’s already out to the public. By combining the skill of innovation with the ability to build meaningful and trustworthy relationships with people, you’ll be able to sustain a successful business for as long as you choose.
What are your future goals?
I’m aiming to make F.R.E.E. Fitness the number 1 personal training company in Edmonton, Alberta. I want to build a team of the best personal trainers who believe in giving back, helping others and providing the best experience for our members. As well as helping our clients become the best versions of themselves, physically and mentally. I’m also incredibly optimistic about MyCarpoolPal. I believe ridesharing will be the most popular method of travel. Not only is it beneficial for drivers and travellers, but it’s also environmentally sustainable for our future. By utilizing the power of the internet and carpooling, we’ll be able to travel more of our beautiful province and country safely.