|Company: BollyX||Industry: Consumer/Fitness|
BollyX® is the Bollywood-inspired dance workout where participants unleash their inner rockstar! Experience authentic and exhilarating choreography with upbeat music from around the world that will have you smiling and sweating at the same time. Started by HBS alumna, Minal Mehta (HBS MBA 2011) and her business partner Shahil Patel, BollyX® is the world’s leading and fastest-growing Bollywood fitness company, building a vibrant community of certified fitness instructors and class participants to celebrate active living and combat the global obesity epidemic.
BollyX is the winner of the 2015 New Venture Competition award for “Most Innovative”.
What was the biggest surprise as an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is supposed to be hard, and, by all accounts, it is! However, my biggest surprise as an entrepreneur is that it has felt a lot more natural to build a venture than I thought it would be. Many of us start off being entrepreneurial managers at companies. Our roles are very much about building a team, working with limited resources, learning new disciplines, and driving results against all odds. And, we work hard and are incredibly productive for our organizations. Now, imagine applying that same work experience to building your own venture, one that you are very much passionate about and have a subject-matter expertise in. If you can create value in very much the same way you did for an organization, you can achieve things beyond your wildest imaginations!
I was fortunate to be able to join a startup team within Amazon right out of HBS. Having joined the team three months after the site launch and being there for almost two years, I was able to experience a high-growth operation and see how stages of the business changed in a very short period of time. Getting a very practical crash course on entrepreneurship in this setting, I was able to apply my skills in entrepreneurial management right off the bat with BollyX.
How did you know you were ready to be an entrepreneur?
For me, it was a perfect storm of events that enabled me to make the jump into becoming an entrepreneur. I had just paid off my student loans, I had a few months of savings in the bank, and I found a co-founder who I very much meshed well with and shared a vision with. All of these circumstances de-risked the option of becoming an entrepreneur.
Also, my perspective has always been that you must put your 100% time and energy into making something truly successful. With BollyX, I knew that this had to be my full-time engagement from the very beginning to give it the chance to really take off. At that point, it was all or nothing, so my attitude was (and continues to be) “go big or go home!” With this perspective, I started my entrepreneurial journey.
How has HBS been a part of your experience as an entrepreneur?
From the very beginning, HBS has been an incredibly supportive community and has enabled many opportunities for me as an entrepreneur. From being able to seek world-class business strategy advice from my professors to networking with knowledgeable alumni, I personally and professionally have gained a lot from HBS in my entrepreneurial journey.
One of my most meaningful experiences with HBS has been competing in the Alumni New Venture Competition in 2014 and 2015. During the first year, the competition forced me to go through all elements of putting together a polished business plan. While I did not advance to the semi-finals, I connected with some very helpful advisors who helped me think of critical aspects of my business to hone my strategy. In 2015, I had much more traction with my business and was able to present a more effective pitch. When we won “Most Innovative” new venture at the global finals, BollyX was given a level of exposure that enabled us to close our seed round quickly and attain credibility and recognition within both the business and fitness realms. This experience refreshed me on the sense of community and the sheer intellectual power of the HBS alumni network. Since then, I have been so warmed by the kind support from everyone – the administration, my advisors, and the alumni community.
For any HBS alumni members currently running a new venture, I would highly encourage you to participate in the Alumni New Venture Competition. Every bit of the competition is completely worth it – you will meet awesome people, and you will learn a lot about yourself and your business.