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BW Businessworld

Building Strategic And Valuable Business The Yogi Way

Sarvesh Shashi, CEO, Zorba – A Renaissance Studio is the youngest CEO in the yoga and wellness fraternity. The 25-year-old entrepreneur believes in the philosophy of consciousness through yoga and the emotion of happiness that stems out of yoga practices

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Currently valued at Rs 112 crore, Zorba – A Renaissance Studio is on the lookout for strategic partners to add value to their business. The plan is to take small format Zorba studios in corporate environments, educational institutes, metro stations and airports with an aim to increase the occupancy rate from 40 per cent to 80 per cent in the next four months.

Sarvesh Shashi, CEO, Zorba – A Renaissance Studio is the youngest CEO in the yoga and wellness fraternity. The 25-year-old entrepreneur believes in the philosophy of consciousness through yoga and the emotion of happiness that stems out of yoga practices. Shashi set up the first studio of Zorba in a basement of commercial building in December, 2013 with a small maiden batch of Zorbians. Soon Zorba was a recognised name in Chennai with several vouching for the array of yoga and unique divinatory offerings at their disposal. Today, Zorba has a presence in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad. We spoke to the CEO to find out more.

Please tell us about the concept.

Zorba is the largest chain of Yoga studios in India. We recently launched 10 more studios which has taken the total count to 30 studios across 9 cities in India. We are the only yoga chain which offers 24 forms of yoga. Right from the traditional forms like hatha, kundalini, ashtanga and more to innovative forms like dance yoga, basketball yoga and stilettos yoga to suit the evolving sensibilities of our new age audience.

Apart from the diverse array of yoga offerings Zorba’s USP also lies in its inclusive environment that reaches out from a 6 year old to a 90 year old. Zorba champs for kids, Zorba’s Happy Yoga Course for the working community, Zorba’s senior citizens for people above 50, Zorba’s corporate yoga, Zorba’s yoga for specially abled and many more. The themes and the offerings at Zorba along with the expertise of our Zorbian trainers is what help us stand out amongst our peers.

Tell us about your investment plans. How well are you funded?
Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd invested in us in the beginning of the last year and has a 50% stake in Zorba. We are currently 30 studios spread over 9 cities in India. The funds from TBVF are purely directed towards studio expansion. We aren’t looking for funds at the moment in the form of VCs. We are looking for strategic partners who will add value to the business. The money that they bring in will be in the form of commitment but they as an individual should be of more value. We are currently valued at 112 crore so if we give out 10%, I want 10 people who can put in 75 lakh to 1 crore for a 1 per cent stake.

What are the future plans?
We plan to expand and reach out to maximum people, spread the lifestyle of Zorba which is a lifestyle of happiness. We also plan to connect 7 billion breaths with yoga. Statistically, we want to reach a studio count of 100 to 120 in India as well as in the overseas – Dubai, London, New York. We want to take small format Zorba studios in corporate environments, educational institutes and even to metro stations as well as airports. Only if we make yoga accessible can we get closer to our vision of 7 billion breaths in the unison of yoga. We will soon branch out the Zorba merchandize and other healthy living alternatives with yoga wear, accessories, water bottles, mugs and organic food.

Please share growth numbers in terms of customers and margins.

We were 3 studios as on March 22, 2016, vis a vis 30 studios same time this year. The expansion itself is a 10X growth in terms of studios. We are currently present in 9 cities with city specific operating margins determined as per city specific operating costs. While Mumbai is operating at the margin of 30 – 35 per cent, Hyderabad is at 67 per cent due to less operational costs in that city. We are currently at an overall operational profit of 45 per cent at the occupancy rate of 40 per cent.

What is the road to profitability for the company?
Besides the obvious studio expansion, we aim to increase the profitability by going the online way. We are now also simultaneously channelling energies on the lifestyle division of Zorba through Zorba merchandize and other healthy living alternatives which we would be making available to a wider set of the audience through online platforms. As far as profitability through studio expansion is concerned we would concentrate on increasing the occupancy rate. We aim to increase the occupancy rate from 40 per cent to 80 per cent in the next four months. While the marketing spends due to the intended increase will rise, the cost of operations at the studios would remain the same aiding to the profitable growth.


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strategic investments Zorba yoga interviews