Pepping up yoga for millennials

Pepping up yoga for millennials

STARTUP showcase

Sarvesh Shashi

Leaving short-temper and arrogance behind to cultivate peace was the phase of Sarvesh Shashi’s life journey that led him to realise his calling. In 2016, he started the yoga and wellness start-up SARVA.

At the age of 17, Shashi met his yoga guru, who put him on a path that changed his life. 

SARVA, as Shashi describes, is a yoga and wellness ecosystem built on the authentic foundations of yoga. The mental, physical and emotional well-being of an individual form the nucleus of all the operations of the start-up.

It currently focuses on the body, the physical part of the business through retail outlets and the mind, with the practice of mindfulness through its application.

The company has studios in the five metros and is planning to open in over 10 new cities in the next 18 months. 

SARVA offers 25 different kinds of yoga with a range of props, curated dance routines, and other workout options inside their studios. “We took the authentic form of yoga and made variations out of it and we set the schedule in a manner that cuts down monotony completely.”

The startup runs studios across two formats — Diva yoga, which the founder says, is women only and aspirational and Sarva yoga, which is unisex and transformational. 

The areas that the start-up is planning to diversify into, in the next few months, are — nourishment, which would include food recipes, natural skincare and merchandise. 

Talking about the idea behind SARVA, Shashi says, “I thought there was a huge gap in India. India is the birthplace of yoga but it was considered more as a meditative technique, that wouldn’t help in losing weight. The idea was to change that perception and bring in more intensity, energy and inclusivity in the authentic practice.” 

Shashi mentions that the company is building a brand through a global community of people who have transformed their lives through yoga and mindfulness. “50% of the people come to our classes because they want to lose weight, but they end up staying because they become calmer or are able to sleep better.”

On making yoga cool, he says, “We are millennial-driven. You see how test cricket became T-20, we are trying to do that to yoga by making it more fun and cool. The average age, in fact, has gone down from 46, three years ago, to 31.” 

Talking about the business potential, Shashi says, “Stress, anxiety, obesity is becoming a global epidemic. We have the passion and potential to make yoga an extremely profitable and purposeful business.” 

The start-up has raised Rs 20 crore in its first institutional financing round led by Fireside Ventures.

The company has so far raised over Rs 35 crore from global investors including David Giampaolo, Mark Mastrov, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez and so on. The angel round also included investments from actors Malaika Arora, Aishwaryaa R Dhanush, Shahid Kapoor and Mira Kapoor.

In reference to the consumer base, he says, “35% of people come through online channels, while 65% come through local marketing, hyperlocal activities and word of mouth.”

By next year, the company plans to double its retail footprint, and is looking at Mumbai and Bengaluru as the key expansion markets. 

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