I love it when I hear about successful women who have impressive degrees and are using their book smarts, street smarts, hobbies and talents to build successful businesses! Payal is impressive. Take a minute to learn about her and learn some of her secrets to success!
Name: Payal Kadakia
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science, Operations Research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Professional Background: I’ve been student of dance since age three…and I guess I have always been a “dancetrepreneur.” It was my passion for dance and entrepreneurship that led to the founding of Classtivity.com. As a student at MIT, my commitment to dance merged with my entrepreneurial spirit when I started an Indian Fusion Dance Troupe. Flash forward to life in New York City, where I founded the nationally-acclaimed Sa Dance Company in 2009. I quickly led the company to achieve tremendous community support, sold out performances, celebrity endorsements and positive reviews in The New York Times and prominent South Asian media. Prior to founding Classtivity, I worked as a consultant at Bain & Company and in Warner Music Group’s Digital Strategy and Business Development Group. Today, I am the CEO and co-founder of Classtivity.com.
What you wanted to be when you grew up: On Broadway! Or, something performance related. When I was in 3rd grade and was asked to create something that resembled who I was, I created a popsicle stick dome that had a stage and ice skating rink called “Payal’s Palace of the Arts.”
What you are: A daughter, sister, aunt, dancer, lover of life and CEO of Classtivity.com.
Brief Summary of your Start Up: Classtivity is a free, one-stop marketplace and the most comprehensive online hub for classes and activities, Classtivity offers thousands of experiences, from spinning and martial arts, to golf and trapeze lessons. Classtivity eliminates the frustration of surfing multiple websites, which typically results in abandoned searches and unmet challenges. As a central hub for classes, Classtivity helps consumers take the first steps in discovering or rediscovering their hobbies and passions, based on key factors that are important to them, including neighborhood, time, class difficulty and descriptions.
Where you are located: New York City, in the heart of Times Square.
What inspired you? I’ve always had a drive to change the things I saw could be improved and one of the biggest things in my life I’ve felt lucky for was having a passion. I want other people to never give up their hobbies and the things they love outside of their jobs, families, careers. Whether its pursuing an old passion like singing or music, or finding something new, it shouldn’t be hard to do.
How long have you been in business? I founded Classtivity in February 2011, shortly after leaving my corporate job and taking a two-week rejuvenation trip to Argentina!
How did you fund it? Bootstrapping and some great friends and family!
Do you have a Fairy Godmother (or Mentor)? My dance teacher, Usha Patel. She’s always been like a second mom.
Do you belong to any Business Organization or Networking Groups? No formal affiliations but very involved in women empowerment through organizations such as WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) and Women 2.0. I am also closely in touch with my professional and education networks at Bain & MIT.
Current Business Challenge? And what are you doing about it? Recruiting exceptional tech talent. We’ve been utilizing our deep network of contacts and posting jobs online thus far. Hoping to find the right fit soon.
Favorite motivational quote: “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” Bob Moawad
Family? I have two wonderful parents who dedicated their lives to me and my sister. I also now have an adorable nephew who is the recent addition to my family.
If so, how do you balance family and business? I come from a background where family is important and no matter what, it will always be a priority. I talk to my mom once a day – she is my support and inspiration on a daily basis.
Favorite book? Memoirs of a Geisha
What do you do to relax? Dance and listen to music, occasionally watch Seinfeld!
What do you want to change most about your world? I wish days were longer so I could do more things each day!
What are you most proud of? Selling out three shows at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City with acclaimed film director, Mira Nair, as our guest speaker and one of our most avid supporters …that’s a close second to starting Classtivity!
What advice would you like to offer other Start Up Princesses? Build a team of people who are as passionate about the business as you are and also who you trust. That is an ideal combination for success.
Favorite Magic Wand (tool/resource)? My new MacBook Air.
If you could design a tiara, what precious stones would you use? Pearls, they were once only created by chance.