ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia on Friday revealed that her iconic fitness app almost never came to be.
Speaking at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in New York City, Kadakia said she almost abandoned her vision to launch the company to take a senior role at Spotify — but stopped after receiving some sage advice from her mentor, venture capitalist Anjula Acharia.
“I had the idea of ClassPass — it actually started with a different name — about eight years ago and I hadn’t yet started it,” Kadakia told the audience at New York’s Time Warner Center in a discussion moderated by Shalini Sharma, Fast Company’s director of digital video. “But I had an offer potentially from another big startup called Spotify when they were launching here — they had four people here in their office in New York.”
Acharia, a partner at the Silicon Valley firm Trinity Ventures, told Kadakia that ClassPass would be a nonstarter if she went to work elsewhere.
“Payal, if you take this job, I or no one else will invest in you or your company,” she recalled Acharia telling her. “I remember that moment changed my life.”
“What she was telling me was if you don’t bet on yourself, why would anyone else?” she added. “And that was the moment for me that I just knew I had to build this company and I was going to fight through everything that stood in my way to get there.”
Payal sent Acharia a business plan that very same evening — and the result is a company now estimated to be worth nearly half a billion dollars.
Acharia said that after she struck it big herself, it was important for her to provide aspiring women entrepreneurs the leg up that she said she never had.
“I feel like women have just become my calling. In my career, women didn’t come out and help me and I felt very bitter,” Acharia told the audience at the Time Warner Center. “My mom always says you have to be the change and when you look at the injustice toward women and women of color, I’m going to be the change.”
Acharia said that she picked people to invest in over the long haul and beyond any single idea or pitch, a concept she picked up from her mentor, record mogul Jimmy Iovine, who told her that he invested in “albums, not singles.”
TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast series is connecting and inspiring the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect. All ticket proceeds go directly to benefit women’s leadership programs and gender equity initiatives via WrapWomen Foundation.
Watch video of the panel above.