The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Coffee talk: Payal Kadakia, CEO of ClassPass and artistic director — October 19, 2015

Coffee talk: Payal Kadakia, CEO of ClassPass and artistic director

If you follow Payal Kadakia, the co-founder and CEO of breakout fitness startup ClassPass, on Twitter, you’ve likely been inspired by her work and the powerful quotes she posts regularly. Blown away by her fast-growing company, dedication to her dream, and unbelievable passion for dance, we talked with Payal about how she made the leap to build her business — without a Plan B. 

How did you get to where you are today?

I have to credit dancing for being a huge factor in my success. Not only did my passion for it drive the business idea for ClassPass, but always having to rehearse my whole life for performances taught me a lot about dedication and ability to change, which is very much ingrained in my work ethic to this day.   

When did you realize that you could turn your love of dance and fitness classes into a business?

My love from dance has been a constant journey in my life from the time I was three years old, to starting an Indian Dance troupe at MIT, and eventually founding my own dance company — it has given me the confidence I needed in myself to realize that I should go after the things I’m most passionate about.  

Payal Kadakia, creative director and dancer

As it relates to ClassPass, I was looking to take a ballet class after work — after hours of searching on the internet only to be left discouraged, I realized that there was a pain point in finding classes and wanted to help remove the friction that often times gets in the way of people doing the things they love. ClassPass is the latest chapter in my journey as I aim to help people find in their lives what dance has always been to me.    

What was the first step you took toward making the idea a reality?

Quitting my job without a Plan B! It can be a scary first step but the moment you put what’s important to you first so many doors can start to open.

We’re inspired by your abilities to be both incredibly creative and business focused. Do you find any similarities in the way you work as an artistic director and as a CEO/founder?

Absolutely! In fact, this is something I actually feel strongly about. So often we have made such a huge separation and distinction between being business oriented or being creative, but it’s not a matter of one or the other — I truly believe that it’s at the intersection of the two where really incredible things can happen.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey to date?

I’ve learned that it’s incredibly important to be true to yourself and lead in a way that is authentically you.  

It’s so easy to get caught up in living up to certain expectations of how you think you should be acting, but I’ve found more success by trusting my intuition and representing myself in a way that is uniquely my own.  

Who do you admire? Why?

Alvin Ailey and Mira Nair — they have both been such powerful influences in sharing their culture with the world through something they love to do.  

One of the best things about a ClassPass Flex membership is the ability to use it in a variety of cities. Which ClassPass studios and/or classes earn a spot on your list of favorites?

ClassPass Flex: unlimited, boutique fitness classes

I’m a big fan of Exhale and Flywheel in most cities, but part of the appeal for me is discovering brand new studios when I travel — so I always try to mix it up! I love just walking into new barre and dance studios wherever I go.

What activewear lines and gear do you love, rock, and recommend?

I’m a big fan of Outdoor Voices and Lululemon, especially their gym bags – and I just got a pair of really awesome Nike shoes that I love. I also love sporting studio-branded gear. I always find myself shopping right after class.

ClassPass has officially announced plans to launch in the land down under. Why Sydney and Melbourne?

There is already such a vibrant fitness culture in Australia, especially as it relates to boutique fitness, so it seemed like an obvious choice as we continue to think through our expansion globally.  It’s exciting that we’ve already partnered with over 250 studios there, and we’re excited to engage with members and studios alike in Sydney and Melbourne.

What events or meet-ups do you regularly attend in NYC? 

I went through Techstars when I launched Classtivity, the first iteration of ClassPass, and it was such a valuable experience that I learned a tremendous amount from. I’m still active with Techstars and attend many of their ongoing events, as it’s been an important network for me. 

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I actually drink tea! I start my day with a giant green tea, my favorite is the Jade Citrus Mint from Starbucks. I sometimes brew my own tea (Kusmi tea!) in the office in the morning as well.

3 Gatherings That Will Get Your Creative Juices Flowing — June 24, 2013

3 Gatherings That Will Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

If you’re tired of sitting in convention center ballrooms listening to one too many panels, looking at another boring slide presentation, perhaps it’s time to mix it up a bit and hit a creative happening. More gathering than conference, these events will inspire you to think and interact with brilliant minds outside of your silo and give you an opportunity to use your hands for something other than typing.

ccCredit: Katherine Levin Sheehan

Create + Cultivate
July 27 / Portland, OR + Brooklyn, NY

The team over at (No Subject) produces this hands-on day that begins with morning mimosas, is filled with creative workshops, DIY projects and inspirational presentations, and closes with attendees debriefing and bonding at a dinner party. C+C is on a cross country tour that kicked off in L.A. earlier this year, lands in Portland on July 27 and will make its way to Brooklyn in late August.


Weapons of Mass Creation Festival
August 16-18 / Cleveland, OH

Art, design, and music hit the Midwest in a major way during WMC. What started as a grassroots Cleveland movement is now a full-blown festival featuring a roster of 20 speakers,  20 designers and a host of bands. With an experience designed to inspire and enable the creative mind, WMC attendees are the type to “defy the hand they’re dealt and make stuff happen.”


September 19-22 / Portland, OR

Independent creatives and geeks descend upon Portland for two days to talk the Internet and tools that empower their work. This year’s lineup includes Chris Anderson of Wired and 3D Robotics and Christina Xu of Breadpig. Talks aside, XOXO also includes a full four-day festival schedule of social events, film screenings, indie music concerts and gaming sessions.

About our contributor // Trusting the path of her curiosity, Johnica Reed has explored six continents, over fifty countries and countless cities. When she’s not traveling, you can find her in Brooklyn at a co-working spot developing content strategy and influencer campaigns for consumer brands and tech startups. Follow her on Twitter @johnica.

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland

On Wednesday the 16 of May Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Startup Weekend Auckland event. 

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers Unite

Auckland recently hosted its third annual Startup Weekend at the Emirates Building in Wynyard Quarter. Startup Weekends began in Seattle in 2010 with a vision of ‘inspiring change in entrepreneurs’. It seems to have worked with over 110 countries having adopted the frenetic event and this being Auckland’s third such event.

2013 saw close to 80 attendees who classed themselves either as hackers, hipsters or hustlers otherwise know as programmers, designers or those skilled in other areas of ‘non-technical’ business.

All participants are encouraged to pitch a new idea – the guise being to create something from scratch. An excited, nervous energy lingered around the room as people lined up to wow the audience with a 60-second pitch. From here, it was an organic selection process whereby those with the strongest ideas and most persuasive leaders shone.  Within 90 minutes of the pitching session, all teams were formed and the game was on.

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

The next two days were then spent conceptualizing, formulating, planning, validating, designing and in some cases, launching a new business. Mentors volunteered their time to assist with the curly questions, playing a massive role in the development of ideas. The fact that these experts in their field willingly give up their time and energy is a fantastic indicator of the thriving Startup scene here in Aotearoa.

Final pitches were on Sunday night in front of a panel of four judges all of whom are well respected in the business community. Teams had five minutes to share their workings from the weekend and convince the panel why their business would succeed. A high caliber of ideas were taken from conception and into the real world over the weekend, with an average of a third of them expected to still be operating in three months.

Startup Weekends are an excellent event for entrepreneurs of all flavours. Often misunderstood by their boundless optimism and never-ending torrent of ideas, events like this create a nurturing environment where everyone is welcomed to the start-up family. Those interested should get it quick for the next event scheduled in November.

For more information about the event, winners, judges and general hype, check out

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland — May 5, 2013

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland

On Wednesday the 23 of April Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Pecha Kucha event that was held in the Iron Bank building on K’Road. 

Jules Turner I Performance and Photography I Monster Beauty touches a sensibility

Pecha Kucha Auckland #35

The delightfully named Pecha Kucha, has been fascinating creative folk in Aotearoa for the last six years. Pecha Kucha is a semi-regular event designed to bring together creatives across a number of disciplines to speak about their practice. The format is fantastic, fresh and energetic, with anywhere from eight to fourteen speakers, presenting 20 slides and speaking on each for only 20 seconds.

Originating in Tokyo the first Pecha Kucha was held in 2003 but now adds to the creative architecture of 643 cities around the world. Luka Hinse is the curator of the events here in Auckland and first came across Pecha Kucha when he was working as a designer in Tokyo.

Tuesday’s event held at the Biz Dojo on K Road introduced the audience to eleven speakers; ranging from performance artists, a body builder, designers, architects, digital strategists, writers, and even an historian. Check for details of all the speakers from the night.

Sonia Pivac was one of my highlights. The founder of Deaf Radio she gave us a crash course in NZ Sign Language. Sonia may be deaf but I would definitely rate her as one of the strongest speakers there. It was a wonderful touch to have all speakers syncro-translated for the hearing impaired.

Edward Bennett, the K Rd historian also captivated all with his speech titled ‘Unbuilt Auckland’. Who knew at one stage Auckland was proposed to have two Town Halls or a giant statue of Christ on Bastion Point? You can learn more about the history of K Road on his free Heritage Walks. K Road also kindly sponsors the event when in its locale.

I would highly recommend this event in the future. At a cost of $10 it’s a small price to pay for the inspiration guaranteed to flow hearing such a variety of passionate speakers.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

Interview: Melbourne local, Rick Chen — February 24, 2013

Interview: Melbourne local, Rick Chen

This week sustainability writer and researcher, Lara McPherson, chats to Rick Chen – the cofounder of Pozible about crowdfunding, starting up in Melbourne, coworking and the arts.

Rick Chen

Name: Rick Chen
Twitter handles: @pozible & @rickchenn
Works: Co-founder & Director of Pozible

What is Pozible about and what prompted you to create it?

Pozible is a global crowdfunding platform for people with creative ideas and community projects. We have supported thousands of people and organisations to raise money to make their dreams come true. The idea for Pozible came about when myself and my friend and business partner Alan Crabbe decided we wanted to make a website to help artists to sell their art. The concept evolved from there.

Where do you think crowdfunding is at in Australia, in comparison to overseas?

Crowdfunding is still very much in its infancy in Australia. While we are starting to see people take crowdfunding seriously, it still has a lot of potential to become more mainstream both here and internationally.

Obviously, the US market is bigger and more mature, but there’s still a huge scope for growth in the States as well as in Asia and the developing world.

Does crowdfunding suit some industries more than others? What is behind Pozible’s focus on creative projects?

Crowdfunding really took off first with creative industries, because filmmakers, musicians, artists and others in creative fields were social media savvy, and people enjoy supporting artistic endeavours because it allows them to feel involved in the creative process.

Legal limitations which prevent crowdfunding campaigns from offering financial returns as rewards obviously makes crowdfunding less suitable for some industries, such as start ups and entrepreneurs. That said, we still see start ups and entrepreneurs using crowdfunding as a way to develop brand awareness in the marketplace.


You have a few businesses under your belt already – what similarities have you noticed in setting up each one? What new challenges have been presented with Pozible? Do you notice consistencies with the kinds of people Pozible works with?

With crowdfunding being such a relatively new concept, Pozible has presented some real challenges. Our business has been constantly evolving and changing since the very beginning, and I would expect that to continue.

The landscape in this sector is changing very rapidly so that is one of the biggest challenges, especially as we grow and expand internationally.

We work with a large number of organisations as partners, businesses as sponsors and a huge variety of people from different creative backgrounds, and we really try to be very customer oriented, and we really focus on trying to offer services that are customer-focused and value-oriented.

It seems collaboration is in your nature. You work from Hub Melbourne – how do you find the coworking experience?

We grew up in coworking spaces, and we started Pozible in a coworking space so really we’ve spent our whole time there. I really enjoy working at the Hub. I consider a lot of the people who work here to be close friends, and we always get together for communal lunch or a wine on a Friday night. I think the whole coworking experience really promotes collaboration, and stimulates ideas and connections you would’ve have had otherwise.

I think coworking is really the future, and I certainly can’t imagine myself going back to working in a corporate office.

Do you have a suppressed artistic side you’re honouring with Pozible? Will we see a Rick Chen film or exhibition one of these days?

I studied film and art at university, and I’m a designer by training so I do have an artistic streak. I wouldn’t say its suppressed exactly though. I get to do a lot of design work on a daily basis, and I find the line between creativity and entrepreneurship to be a very fine one.

Maybe in the future there might be an exhibition but for now my career focus is really about digital technology and the online space. We’re more like to see another start up in this space, than something purely artistic.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne?

I live on the southside, but I work in the city and I hang out on the northside.

What else are you passionate about, besides helping funding great projects?

I’m passionate about the internet, technology and social enterprises businesses.

What’s next for Pozible and for Rick?

Next for Pozible is we are aiming to evolve the crowdfunding model, and spread our wings. For me personally, Pozible is really what’s next for me. I’m committed to it moving forward.

About our ambassador // Lara McPherson is a writer and researcher interested in how ethics and economics intersect. Communications Manager at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership and a Director at Lala Productions. Tweed Rider, farmer, yogi. Lover of travel, pretty things, big questions and cups of tea. Follow her on Twitter as @laramcpherson

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