There are a lot of gross stories about tech men (and women) in positions of power — like investors — acting inappropriately.
The founder of Nasty Gal, for example, was left a disturbing voicemail during an early fundraise, then the investor blamed it on being drunk and high. Kathryn Minshew, cofounder of The Muse, described a situation where an investor leaned in so close, she had to put her arm up to block his advances.
Payal Kadakia, the founder of ClassPass, says she used to have awkward run-ins with investors. But that hasn’t happened to her in a long time.
Kadakia thinks it’s the fact that her startup has started to gain significant traction and now investors who once had an upper hand actually want a piece of her business. And they don’t want to say or do something that could mess up their chances.
When Kadakia was first pitching investors, her business plan was faulty. Classtivity, the failed predecessor to ClassPass, was a way to book local fitness classes online. The entire first year only produced about 100 bookings. In May 2013 ClassPass relaunched as a $US99 per month membership to hundreds of local fitness studios, and that business has worked much better.
In the past year, more than 350,000 classes have been booked through Kadakia’s platform and in some cases, her company is writing partnering venues 6-figure monthly referral checks. Investors recently gave ClassPass $US4 million and some are encouraging Kadakia to take more of their money now.
The traction Kadakia has found with ClassPass has given her confidence around investors. In turn, they have been showing her the respect she deserves.
“I’ve gone in to pitch them straight from a workout in Lululemon gear,” she says. “It’s funny, in [the accelerator program I was in] you learn all about how to pitch investors. It’s nice once you have a working startup and the tables turn.”
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