finances with her dad, Kadakia was determined to solve this logistical pain and bring more efficiency to people’s lives. She founded ClassPass in 2011. “The first three years were tough,” she admits. “We didn’t have the product right … but I never considered it failure.” The biggest lesson learned? “Changing customer behavior is the hardest thing in the world, and I was up against getting people off their couches,” she explains. All of the focus on branding, messaging, and launching a company, she found, is completely separate from the reality of human interaction with potential customers. “I wanted to develop a platform to help people feel comfortable walking into classes they’d never been to before.” Thanks to the ClassPass app, which reinforces the idea that “these classes are at your fingertips,” as well as a penetration of social media, technology has been integral to the ClassPass rise. “It’s a lifestyle,” she adds. “Our brand has been shaped by our customers’ stories, responses, and needs.” ClassPass allows subscribers to take assorted fitness classes that are convenient for them, for one monthly fee rather than multiple fees for multiple types of classes. Its network offers access to a variety of studios, gyms, and meditation classes in the cities in which it operates. Scaling the ClassPass model to include any service or activity that promotes a healthier lifestyle, such as cooking classes or even beauty services, is on the table as Kadakia and her team step boldly toward the future.
1. Payal Kadakia, founder of ClassPass, in New York City 2. Kadakia and her parents 3. A ClassPass fitness event 4. Payal in her innovative office
Innovation - Kadakia
Head of the Class 4 CSQ Q1 2019
and angel investor Fritz Lanman, who led the seed and Series A funding for ClassPass and played a considerable role in ClassPass finally hitting its stride. He and Kadakia have developed a strong professional partnership; Lanman, who served as executive chairman from 2014 to 2016, took over as CEO when he and Kadakia swapped roles in 2017. An active tech investor, Lanman has been involved in the seed rounds for Square Inc., Pinterest, EasyPost, and inDinero, among others. ClassPass will continue to focus on global expansion and inclusivity in its outreach as well as its partnerships. While the company is headquartered in New York, Kadakia goes wherever her work takes her, which could be San Francisco, Singapore, or back to Hollywood. Due to New York’s emergence as a tech and innovation hub in recent years, Kadakia says, a huge influx of new studios are opening all over the Big Apple. And, she points out, studio owners are entrepreneurs, too. The New York market was also vital for gathering feedback during the early days, and L.A., a hub for health and wellness, was ready to embrace ClassPass as a regular part of the culture. Being able to lead her company to the nex t level wh i le st i l l honori ng her a r t through Sa Dance Company has been the best of both worlds for Kadakia. With her art, she is honoring her heritage, while her business is shaping the future. “ClassPass has logged 65 million hours in experiences for people,” she notes. “It’s a privilege and honor [to have created that kind of change]; I can’t wait for the number to keep growing!” end
A key part of that team is serial entrepreneur
Q1 2019 | Innovation & Technology