Ryan Breslow doesn’t exactly fit the tech entrepreneur trope. Young adult male? Yes. Attended Standford? Indeed. Founded a startup in San Francisco? This is true. But does the stereotypical tech bro you’re imagining…. break dance? Is he radically generous? Does he believe that dancing can change the world? These are the things that qualify Breslow as a different breed within the industry.
Breslow is the founder and CEO of Bolt, a tech company streamlining the checkout process for e-retailers like Forever21, Milk Makeup, and Badgley Mischka. (He’s also a co-founder of the cryptocurrency platform Eco.) In industry terms, Bolt is what is known as a unicorn—a privately held startup valued at over $1 billion. For context, Instacart, JUUL Labs, Master Class, Glossier, and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty are all fellow unicorns, to name a few.
“It wasn’t easy,” he says of getting his companies off the ground. “There were a lot of really dark days where I thought our company was going to fail.” The 27-year-old found that he needed an outlet from the work grind. “There’s obviously a lot of dangerous escapes in the world, and for me… I was so lucky to have stumbled into dancing.”
He started taking dance classes in San Francisco and found the sense of community to be refreshing, joking that there he met people whose “souls were intact,” something he’d struggle to find in most tech circles. In all seriousness, what he found was fun, confidence, and an ideal way to refill his tank—something restorative for the mind, body, and soul.
“As Bolt started to become really successful, I’m thinking more broadly about myself and my role in the world,” Breslow says. He began to question, “Am I just going to be a taker? Or am I going to use my skills to actually do good—and not just give my money away when I’m old, but actively give it away while I’m young and throughout my life?” With that, he pondered what exactly he might do with this calling. “There’s no better thing I can imagine than making dance a utility for the world and to just getting everybody dancing,” he says. “I had that realization; I got pretty emotional about it. And I was like, ‘Alright, I gotta do this.'”
In March 2021, Breslow decided to form his non-profit, The Movement, which provides free dance classes for people throughout Miami. Now, his team is bringing The Movement to New York City. The NYC chapter currently offers eight classes per week and aims to be in all five boroughs by the end of October. Dance instructors from the local communities teach introductory classes for a wide variety of dance styles, such as Zumba, hip hop, dance hall, and jazz funk. Classes are completely free for participants and are open to all skill levels.
Breslow believes deeply that dancing could be beneficial for the whole world—literally. “I couldn’t imagine anything more healing than dance,” he says. “Through dance, I’ve learned how to have confidence in myself. You physically have to get up, and go in front of people, and move your body, right? And if you can do that, you can do anything. I feel like that’s what the world needs. We need to encourage people to get up on their feet, and go in front of people, have a willingness to look silly and not hide.”
When he decided to start The Movement, Breslow recruited Eddy Rosales Chavez, a friend from Stanford, who now serves as Founding Head of Operations. “As I’ve learned about dance from a work perspective—how to market it, how to get people interested—I’ve also gone through the same journey on a personal level,” Rosales Chavez says. “It definitely makes me more comfortable speaking on the benefits of dance when I personally have seen them in my own life, and it’s not just a bullet on a PowerPoint.”
Coming out of the pandemic, Breslow and Rosales Chavez say they’ve seen the relief, joy, and sense of community it has brought back into participants’ lives. “I’ve had a lot of parents say, ‘I had to take my kids out of dance,’ or ‘There’s no way I could afford this now,’ so they’re super appreciative that they can do this, and that it’s entirely free for them,” says Rosales Chavez.
Breslow and Rosales Chavez say they’re being strategic with how they grow the movement, ensuring the organization runs efficiently to maximize their impact. Their first priority was to prove themselves within the tight-knit dance community, then “getting the [local communities] to know who we are, and that we’re there, and that we care,” says Rosales Chavez.
“Dance is all about respect,” adds Breslow. “We wanted this to be a real, authentic grassroots movement. So, we took our time, got Miami right, and then when we got to New York, everybody was like, ‘Yo, these guys are legit… It’s not just big money coming into dance.’”
Now, they’re evaluating where to spread The Movement next, with New Orleans, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as the top contenders. “We’re not stopping at one city. We’re not stopping until the whole world is dancing. At least the whole country, as our first stop,” says Breslow.
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