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She’s the Boss: Meet Minal Mehta, Co-Founder and President of BollyX

Photo Courtesy: Minal Mehta

If you knew Minal Mehta growing up, you knew that she was always on the move—literally. Whether she was competing in sports or choreographing her latest dance, the Cerritos, Calif. native lived to be active. And while a South Asian girl rehearsing Bollywood dance routines isn’t exactly an anomaly, one that goes on to launch a hit Bollywood workout called “the new Zumba” is. Experienced with hands-on training in, what she calls, “entrepreneurial management” at companies like Hotwire, NBC Universal and Amazon, the Harvard Business School grad turned her love for fitness and dance into a thriving business venture. For this week’s “She’s the Boss” edition, we sat down to chat with the dancing queen bee behind BollyX- The Bollywood Workout.

Stomping Grounds:

New York, NY

The Gig:

“BollyX is a marriage of my passions for dance and fitness. My co-founder and I grew up being active in team sports, and we also had extensive experience competing in Bollywood dance competitions. We realized that right before our dance competitions at rehearsals, we were in the best shape of our lives, and we were having so much fun with our teams. And so we thought‚ these are the perfect elements for what people look for in a workout. We also felt that it was important to build a fitness program that could bring people together in a meaningful way.”

“In June 2013, I relocated to Boston to join my co-founder, and we launched our first BollyX classes in a virtually untapped market. Partnering with local gyms and dance studios, we quickly found that not only was there a tremendous appetite for Bollywood workout classes among fitness consumers, but that fitness instructors were also looking for a fresh new class to bring to their students. And that’s when BollyX was born.”

“To date, we have trained 1,500+ instructors across 30+ U.S. states, launched internationally in Canada, and we continue to expand into new gyms and communities across the world. The journey has been really exciting, and we’re excited for what the future holds!”

bollyx workout

Photo Courtesy: Minal Mehta

Be-Your-Own-Boss Perks:

“I find the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur to be the fact that I can tie my team’s working efforts directly to business results. Being in a startup, my team is incredibly nimble and can execute on new strategies almost instantaneously. Because there is no red tape, the feedback loop for learning is a lot quicker than with a large organization. This keeps my team constantly trying new things in a short amount of time, which keeps me on my toes and keeps work an exciting place to go to!”

A Day in the Life:

“Within BollyX, I do anything from strategize with my team, to choreograph dance fitness routines, to teach fitness classes, to build technology, to meet with business partners. No two days are ever the same, which keeps things interesting.”

Bollyx co-founder Minal Mehta

Photo Courtesy: Minal Mehta

Early Beginnings:

“As a kid, all I wanted to do was dance and sing. And while I didn’t quite understand the ‘practical applications’ of these personal hobbies, I couldn’t imagine my life without music and dance ever. I still remember very vividly as a little girl when I used to [play] a Bollywood song in my living room and let the music inspire movement out of me. Or when I would huddle by cassette tape player to splice music to prepare for my Bollywood dance performances during middle school. Or when I’d have 30 classmates over at my house rehearsing for a cultural show during high school. All of these experiences made me feel so much in my element, as if I was doing what I was meant to be doing.”

Feel-Good Mojo:

“My mother has always been my hero and role model. She has always given 100% of her heart and effort towards her pursuits, whether it was tirelessly caring full-time for my sister, brother and me, or going back to school at the age of 50 to pursue a new nursing career. Her dedication, hard work ethic, and tenacity to persevere has always inspired me. She has always been my backbone, she encourages me to take risks, she is unconditionally there for me when I fall, and she coaches me to keep the fight alive in me.”

“Startup life can be a total roller coaster. Each win is a reason to celebrate, but around the corner is always another challenge. The way I stay positive throughout it all is to keep in mind the bigger picture of my team’s efforts. I remember that every day, a BollyX instructor is teaching a class, getting people to smile and sweat, and leaving the class feeling positive about herself/himself. Connecting myself back to the product and its very real benefits keeps me feeling motivated and rewarded.”

The Success Manual:

“The biggest lesson that I learned before launching BollyX that keeps coming back to me is the power of being a good manager and the importance of taking feedback to continue improving. I keep thinking back to a lecture that my MBA professor, Clay Christensen gave, He called being a manager the most ‘noble’ profession, because you can have a direct and real impact on building a person’s self-esteem.”

“That insight impacts the way I interact with people every day, whether it is with my team members at BollyX, or with the people who come take my class. I also learned that you cannot take relationships for granted. Just because a relationship with a co-worker starts off on a good foot doesn’t mean you can become complacent and stop taking feedback. Every day is a chance to learn how to improve to become a better manager and team member.”

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