Runjhun Gupta

Break Free and Live Life

This is the story of Runjhun’ inspiring journey from finance executive to a successful health-fitness-happiness entrepreneur. She started ZipOut, not just to be a dance academy, but actually be synonymous with breaking free and living life to the fullest. ZipOut is a complete de-stressing solution and a prominent brand among corporates and standalone dance academies.

Runjhun Gupta is fascinating. She also has an infectious laugh. Founder of ZipOut, she is a determined individual who is courageous enough to stand up to societal pressures, driven enough not to get bogged down by the heap of obstacles in her path, smart enough to know when and where to invest her time and efforts, and talented enough to nurture ZipOut and steer it to where it is today – a prominent brand among corporates and standalone dance academies.

Having graduated from the coveted Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Delhi University, Runjhun was all set to follow the beaten path and pursue post-graduation from S.P. Jain, when merely a week before her joining, she suffered a severe back injury and was advised bed rest for a few months. Heartbroken, Runjhun deferred her admission and after convalescing at home for a few months, joined a few arbitrary courses of radio jockeying and anchoring, just for fun.

After exploring her fun side, Runjhun felt it was time to get back to business. She joined an international bank and worked hard for long, stressful hours to keep up with the rest of the associates in the competitive environment of MNCs. It was during this time that she was also teaching salsa to some students a few days of the week, after office hours. A proficient dancer since childhood, she named her classes ‘Dance Addiction’ and also got visiting cards printed, on which she was named the CEO. Runjhun gradually realized that she actually looked forward to the days when she had to rush home and teach salsa, however tired she was, more than what she spent time on doing five days in the week – working at the office.

After an incident of fainting from exhaustion and stress in the office, she decided to resign from her job, realizing that it wasn’t meant for her. She then tried her hand at import/export business, but dancing was in her blood. She left the business in 6 months and decided to fully commit herself to dancing, for life.

Attracting students took marketing efforts, and Runjhun did everything from approaching random people in malls, to putting up flyers in unknown societies. She started with 9 students initially. She says she got lucky with her first corporate dance workshop with Cadence, referred to by a friend, and due to its booming success, she did four more workshops. By the end of six months, she had 200 students in her classes. This was the highest point of her dance career.

Then came the lull. Runjhun had enough going for herself but ambitious as she was, she wanted more. She didn’t want to be just a dance teacher. She wanted to be an entrepreneur. She wanted to touch lives. She was also discouraged by the way her students’ parents negotiated for the class fees, and generally looked down upon her profession. None of this is news to us. We, as a society, do not value art or its teachers, viewing it as a mere pastime. We’d rather crush dreams than dream of letting go of that regular paycheck, which often comes at the cost of soul-sucking, mind-numbing mundanity.

She then went to IIM Calcutta. After battling this lull followed by a period of depression and bouts of self doubt, she then reinvigorated herself and started ZipOut in 2011. Since her own experience with depression left her feeling so low, she wanted ZipOut to smack that into oblivion in other people’s lives and not just be a dance academy, but actually be synonymous with breaking free and living life to the fullest.

Runjhun says that, as women, we learn to contain ourselves for fear of being judged, and do not strive to connect with our inner selves, putting others’ needs before ours.

ZipOut aims to connect our mental and spiritual selves while providing us with a positive experience. By 2014, it had gained prominence in the corporate sphere, having conducted more than 30 dance workshops, and had more than 10,000 students under its name. In Delhi, ZipOut also conducted open workshops with Raahgiri, a TOI initiative and Runjhun says it was a dream come true for her to see 600 people just dancing and having fun, or ‘Zipping Out’! ZipOut has gone on to win various awards since then, including the best dance institute in Delhi/NCR.

Runjhun is also a dance form designer and she is credited with the designing of two programmes - ZipOut Curvit - get curvy and be fit and ZipOut Fitfest. Currently, she is collaborating with gyms to introduce her own designed programs. A true #MakeinIndia star, Runjhun has received media coverage from HT City, The Economic Times, Financial Times, FEMINA, Business World, ZEE TV. She is also a speaker of repute and has enthralled large audiences with her subject expertise on ‘Fundamentals of Happiness’, ‘Achieving Dreams’ and ‘Passion Search - Look within’.

Runjhun is the recipient of numerous awards and titles, including the prestigious ‘Young Successful Entrepreneur’ which was bestowed on her by the Union Railway Minister. She was also voted as the ‘Youth Star’ by Radio One in early 2017. She also received the 'Star Alumnus Award' from College of Business Studies.

ZipOut is a complete de-stressing solution, and has Pepsi, Markit and Cadence among others as its clients. It also has various programmes like Big Boss and Zipinity, to cater to different demands of corporates and individuals. It has indeed touched lives, and many of its students have now become full time Zip-Outers, helping others heal through dance.

Runjhun’s journey has been an inspiration. She has a dream to be invited to the Stanford Business School as a motivational speaker. She is committed to bringing joy to as many people as possible by sharing her inspiring journey from finance executive to a successful health-fitness-happiness entrepreneur.

Runjhun's advice to women entrepreneurs is: Be Younique.


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