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digital strategy. Even with a full-time career, though, Kadakia’s passion for dance found a way to thrive. She danced after work, every night. She always found a way. While a student at MIT, she organized and built an activity group on campus for South Asian dance that still exists today. “Whenever I couldn’t do something I wanted to do, I figured out a way to create it,” she says. “That’s how I started taking on leadership roles.” W hile at Warner Music Group, she founded the Sa Dance Company with some girlfriends also interested in Indian dance. They met up to rehearse in the evenings after work. A year later, the troupe participated in the Battery Downtown Dance Festival, the city’s longest-running public dance festival. By chance or by fate, Sa Dance Company wound up being featured on the cover of the arts section of The New York Times. The group didn’t even have a website. “I was still working [at Warner], and my boss was surprised I came to work the next day,” Kadakia says with a laugh. She was also studying for the GMAT and contemplating a return to business school to pursue her master’s, “but I felt like the world was telling me to keep living my life and pursue my passions.” If she wanted dance play a larger role in her life, Kadakia needed to find a job where she had more stability and control over her schedule. “I realized I needed to find a way to mesh my two lives.”

Innovation - Kadakia

Problem-Solving Epiphany

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competitions. As she grew up in Western society, dance and movement allowed her to have a relationship with cultures—her own as well as others’—that was fluid and ultimately empowering. “Dance became this way to connect back to where I came from, and for me, it also morphed into the performance side, the artistry side. It became this place where I felt like I could become whoever I wanted to be,” she recalls. “To be able to start feeling that at a young age was such a gift for me.” Education, and the opportunities it opened, soon became the focus in Kadakia’s life. Dance had instilled discipline in her life, and education was giving her the finer tools to succeed. She attended MIT, where she would eventually earn a degree in management science with a focus on op60

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

erations research and a minor in economics. She took a course on the history of American dance, which included icons such as Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, and Alvin Ailey. Also figuring into her activities at MIT were the annual culture shows presented every spring. “I would always be choreographing for my shows on my class notes,” she admits. “I just loved the idea of creating these dances.” However, she would only let herself dance if her studies were going well. “I always felt I had to earn the right to be a dancer. I knew I had to be responsible and get an education, or nothing was going to work.” After graduating, Kadakia took a job at New York consulting firm Bain & Company. After a few years there, she moved on to Warner Music Group, where she worked on

Several months later, Kadakia traveled to San Francisco for a friend’s birthday party. There, she had conversations with entrepreneurs who were using technology to disrupt various industries, and the idea appealed to her. At the time, she was training in ballet and researching a class she wanted to try. She searched online, becoming increasingly frustrated when every site she visited was booked. Kadakia eventually did find one open spot, but at that point she was so frustrated with the whole experience, she ended up not going at all. Her epiphany was that, much like the conversations she was having with entrepreneurs pursuing other ventures, technology could be an effective vehicle for her idea as well: to help people take the next step toward living a healthier and more purposeful life. Kadakia started researching every aspect of the fitness and wellness class market to find out the various ways people were finding classes. She started talking about her idea with friends, some of whom offered to invest in her fledgling business idea. Finally, she took the leap. Six months after she got the idea for a fitness class service, and with her parents’ blessing, she quit her job to focus solely on ClassPass. As she reviewed her

Profile for CSQ Magazine

C-Suite Quarterly - New York  

Q1 2019 | Innovation & Technology

C-Suite Quarterly - New York  

Q1 2019 | Innovation & Technology

Profile for csuite