CLASS PASS Founded 2013 Employees 400 Notable Past Projects Being selected for the TechStars accelerator in our company’s early days; choreographing and performing for sold-out audiences at Lincoln Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Bryant
PAYAL KADAKIA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN Age 36 Hometown Randolph, New Jersey Residence Los Angeles Family Nick Pujji (husband), Harshad Kadakia (father), Geeta Kadakia (mother), Avani Kadakia (sister) In My Garage Audi Q3
Park; being named to Fortune’s “40 under 40” and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year New York Notable Upcoming Projects Continuing our company’s massive international expansion Collaborative Partners Fritz Lanman, ClassPass CEO
Favorite Book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Education MIT First Job Bain & Company Business over a Drink Any place with highquality green tea. Bonus points if it’s located near a great gym or fitness studio Mentors Anjula Acharia, David Tisch, Jennifer Hyman
Payal Kadakia considers herself more of a problem solver than an entrepreneur. But it’s the scale of her solution that qualifies her as the latter—and a successful one at that. The 36-year-old trained dancer landed huge success in the form of ClassPass, a digital platform that grants users access to a variety of health and wellness studios through a single membership, which reached a lofty valuation of $610M as of June 2018. And her ambition doesn’t stop there. What began in 2011 as an answer to her frustration with trying to find a dance class after work while living in New York City has become a platform of limitless possibilities as ClassPass grows its partner base with yoga, martial arts, and dance studios (of course); health clubs; and more, offering one convenient fee and drop-in privileges to any location in the network. “We want to be the destination for all your free time,” she says with equal parts accommodation and ambition. As is of ten the case with disruptors who revolutionize an industry by perfecting a fresh approach to an existing dilemma, Kadakia’s rise has been swift (though it took a couple of years to build momentum). ClassPass has raised more than $250M, including an $85M Series D funding in July 2018. The company has established 15,000 partnerships across 2500 cities, and as of March 2019, more than 65 million reservations have been booked on their platform by people around the globe—but that doesn’t mean the journey has been easy. A compact force of effervescent energy, Kadakia—a first-generation Indian American whose parents emigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s—stands just under five feet tall. But on the day of CSQ’s visit, her black
Christian Louboutin pumps add another four inches to her height. The art deco–era Hollywood Hills home she purchased in 2017 is sparsely decorated, giving the impression that Kadakia is on the go a lot. The central space where a dining table would normally be is vacant; it serves as her in-home dance studio. When we meet, Kadakia is looking forward to an upcoming performance with her dance troupe at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts as part of an Innovate Beverly Hills event. In addition to her duties as executive chairman of ClassPass, Kadakia serves as artistic director for Sa Dance Company, a traditional South Asian Indian performance art group that she founded in 2009. The congenial entrepreneur will also be giving a speech and accepting an award at Innovate Beverly Hills. Comfortable in the spotlight, Kadakia is the consummate brand ambassador as she discusses her vision for the future of ClassPass.
To Plié or Not to Plié?
Growing up in Randolph, a small town of 25,000 in upstate New Jersey, Kadakia and her older sister did not encounter many peers of their cultural background. Her parents, who came to America with nothing but the dream of a better life, felt that embracing American culture—without abandoning their own—would ultimately give their daughters a better understanding of the world. Both were chemists by trade and valued the importance of a good education. Kadakia credits their work ethic and dogged determination with shaping her own thirst for knowledge and capacity for resilience. She began learning traditional Indian dance at age 3. A close friend of her mother had been a dance instructor in India, and Kadakia and a few other young Indian girls created a loose-knit community that would meet to practice in family basements. Dance became a central aspect of her childhood, punctuated by weekend travel to various
Innovation - Kadakia
CSQ Q1 2019
Q1 2019 | Innovation & Technology