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Cricketer Who Gave Up on IPL to Build a 100 Cr Yoga Empire

Sarvesh Shashi, a former Tamil Nadu cricketer and college dropout, transformed his life’s trajectory from aspiring IPL cricketer to a celebrated yogi and entrepreneur. His journey into yoga began at 17, when he took over his father’s yoga classes, leading to mental and physical wellness and awakening his entrepreneurial spirit. By age 26, Sarvesh had established Zorba, a chain of yoga studios offering a contemporary twist to yoga, across India​​.

His company, Zorba, meaning “living each day to the fullest” in Greek, operates 72 studios across 41 Indian cities and offers 25 unique forms of yoga, catering to a diverse age group from toddlers to nonagenarians. The studios are designed to resemble luxury spas, enhancing the overall yoga experience​​. Sarvesh’s innovative approach to attracting younger audiences to yoga involved introducing dynamic forms such as paddleboat yoga, appealing to India’s youth under 30​​.

Initially reluctant to use his father’s capital, Sarvesh launched Zorba in 2013 with a ₹16 lakh loan. The venture quickly gained traction, breaking even in just four months, and expanded to three studios by 2015. A significant partnership with Talwalkars, a renowned fitness chain, enabled Zorba to go national. This collaboration involved Talwalkars acquiring a 50% stake in Zorba for $2 million, significantly expanding Zorba’s presence across India​​.

Under the guidance of Talwalkars, Zorba set its sights on rapid expansion, both domestically and internationally, with plans to establish up to 150 studios in India and several overseas, including in Singapore, Colombo, and Dubai. Zorba diversified into merchandising, with a focus on apparel, food, and music, and is expected to generate about 30% of its turnover from these products​​.

Additionally, Sarvesh teamed up with actress Malaika Arora to launch Diva Yoga, a transformative program for women focusing on holistic beauty and wellness. This initiative aims to empower women through yoga and lifestyle changes​​.

On the business front, Sarvesh’s wellness firms Sarva and Diva Yoga have reached a valuation of $14.1 million (approximately Rs 117 crore), according to Tracxn data. This success is bolstered by high-profile students like Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam and celebrity investors including Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Jennifer Lopez.

Despite being on the cusp of an IPL career, Sarvesh chose to pursue his passion for yoga and wellness, starting with an unsecured loan of Rs 5 lakh. By 2016, just three years after its establishment, his company achieved a valuation of Rs 100 crore.

Sarvesh’s personal commitment to yoga is evident in his adherence to the five vows of non-violence, non-intoxication, celibacy, truthfulness, and avoiding mental or physical theft.

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