Payal Kadakia’s trajectory from holding senior roles at Bain & Company and Warner Music to launching ClassPass, a start-up centered around fitness and wellness, provides an inside look into the start-up environment.
The Genesis of ClassPass
Kadakia’s decision to venture into entrepreneurship received support from her mother, who advised her to embrace the riskier path. Inspired by her friends who were developing apps, Kadakia considered building something of her own. The idea struck while she was looking up a ballet class. Frustrated with the process of sifting through multiple tabs and studios, Kadakia saw an opportunity – a search engine for fitness classes. This idea led to the launch of Classtivity, a search engine that underwent several changes before eventually transforming into ClassPass in 2013.
Innovating Fitness and Wellness
ClassPass introduced a model where users could access multiple fitness classes via one platform rather than being limited to a single gym or studio membership. The platform also expanded to include wellness services like massages, hair care, and spa treatments, giving a holistic approach to health and wellness.
Initial Growth and Obstacles
ClassPass experienced exponential growth early on. Just three months in, it went from having 35 users to 300, and when it reached a thousand members, it was at a million-dollar run rate. The platform continued to evolve, adding more types of fitness classes and expanding to 2,500 locations across the globe in 28 countries.
ClassPass’s growth trajectory, however, was not without challenges. Building partnerships with top-tier studios took time and strategic negotiations.
Benefits for Fitness Studios
ClassPass did not just benefit users; it also aimed to provide value for fitness studios and gyms. The team used data and built algorithms to optimize studio revenues, filling unsold spots in classes and providing incremental revenue. They also restricted the number of times a user could visit a single studio, ensuring that revenues were spread out.
Career Developments and Personal Milestones
In the business sector, reaching ‘unicorn’ status, which refers to privately held start-ups valued at over $1 billion, is noteworthy. In 2020, Kadakia led ClassPass to achieve this valuation. That year, she also became a mother, highlighting the possibility of balancing entrepreneurship with personal milestones.
The Driving Force
For Kadakia, her mission is to encourage more people to lead active lives and try new things. She aims for ClassPass to serve as a tool to make fitness more accessible and enjoyable.
Kadakia hopes to inspire other women to identify their purpose and pursue it boldly. In an interview with Bustle, she expressed her wish for women starting their businesses to aim high and work diligently to achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions.