How 27-year-old Sarvesh Shashi from Chennai got both Jennifer Lopez and Malaika Arora to invest in his startup

The entrepreneur received a whopping 6 milllion USD from global investors and shares his ambitious plans 

Sonali Shenoy Published :  10th May 2019 02:28 PM   |   Published :   |  10th May 2019 02:28 PM
Sarvesh Shashi with Jennifer Lopez

Sarvesh Shashi with Jennifer Lopez

How do you get global superstar Jennifer Lopez to invest in your startup? “Stay celibate,” says Sarvesh Shashi, the founder of yoga and wellness brand, Sarva (previously Zorba). 

Yes, you read that right. This principle that Shashi has religiously followed for the past nine years is one of the five precepts (a code of conduct introduced to him by his yoga guru). The other four, include non-violence, no lying, no stealing and the final one — avoiding non-vegetarian food, smoking and alcohol.  

Five promises
At the time, Shashi thought it was going to be a challenge he took on for 60 days. “But it’s been nine years now — and living by these five principles has made a huge impact in my work and personal life,” Shashi shares. When you hear how much impact — you just might fall out of your chair. 

The entrepreneur has received a whopping 6 million USD from global investors including the likes of Mark Mastrov (founder of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc),  Bill Roedy (former chairman and CEO, 
MTV Networks International), J Lo’s husband and baseball legend Alex Rodriguez and closer home, Bollywood celebrity Malaika Arora. Arora is now the co-founder of both Sarva and Diva Yoga, a studio for women in Mumbai that has expansion plans for two additional outlets by the end of May. 

This whirlwind of events all come just a few weeks after Shashi’s 27th birthday! 

The whole affair took 40 days to come together, with a now Mumbai-based Sarvesh flying in for a meeting with Jennifer Lopez at her Los Angeles home, last year. Was he a bundle of nerves, did it take him another 40 days to prep for this moment? We are bubbling over with curiosity. Shashi responds over the phone, “No, this is the story of my life. It isn’t made up, so there was no need for preparation.”

Evidently, the meeting went well. And not just from the standpoint of a business win. Shashi reveals that he even got to fly with J Lo on her private plane later and watch her perform on stage at a concert in Las Vegas. That’s not all. We’re told, she even said hello to him, from stage, during the show!

 

Behind the scenes

Between globetrotting to meet business tycoons, do you still have the time to do yoga?
Yes! Apart from my personal practice, I’ve also been teaching a lot more lately. And moving to Mumbai, I’ve got to have students like Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam in my class. 

You started your first studio in 2013. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Find the right people, once that happens, everything 
gets easier.

What is J Lo like in person?
Super warm.
 


We are even more taken aback when he shares that he didn’t approach the popstar and World of Dance judge. The way it unfolded was quite a pinch-me moment. “I got an email asking if I was keen on Jennifer (Lopez) and Alex (Rodriguez) as investors through my friend Mark Mastrov. And I said: Wait, do Jennifer and Alex know that Sarva exists?”

They did. 

It’s pertinent to mention at this point that Shashi is a college drop out and when we asked whether 
this has ever raised any questions about his capabilities with bigwig investors, he responds, “Not at all. Although, there was this one club in Chennai that refused me a membership because I didn’t have a degree.”

 

Partners who support each other both on and off the mat: With co-founder Malaika Arora


Now of course, the question on everyone’s minds is — what does Shashi plan to do with his 6 million USD? 

Here’s the plan: “We want to expand with 500 more brick and mortar studios across 15 Indian cities by 2022.” Meanwhile, he shares, that his team is also evaluating growth opportunities in the US, UK and the Middle East. The second part of his strategy is to establish a massive digital presence by building a community that is 100 million strong in the next four years via an app slated to launch in September. Similar to Headspace and Calm, “This platform will be a first for India with a focus on guided meditation, sleep stories and mindful music with authenticity and a pinch of modernity to make it accessible,” he tells us. 

Lo and behold
We imagine that a lot of people will turn to meditation if it was J Lo’s voice on the app. Would that be a possibility, we take a shot in the dark. “It’s definitely a possibility,” Shashi leaves us just as curious, for his next chapter.
 

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sonali@newindianexpress.com | @brightasunshine

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