New Age YOGI – Sarvesh Shashi

Their social media profiles may resemble The Rich Kids of Instagram but our 3 young cover personalities are enterprising and inspiring millennials who will stop at nothing to achieve what they set out to do. Presenting for the first-time ever, 3 of Chennai’s youngest successful businessmen on the cover of South India’s largest lifestyle magazine, RITZ.

Text: Preeti GT

Photographs: Ganesh Toasty

Location: Feathers Hotel

Styling: Sunil Karthik (Team Rehane)

Special thanks to leading fashion designer Rehane for her inputs and ideas

Hair and Makeup: Page 3 Luxury Salon and Makeover Studio, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai

New Age YOGI – Sarvesh Shashi

Gave up a lucrative professional cricket career when he was just 19 years. Was introduced to yoga purely by chance at 17 and turned to become a self-made catalyst of joy who dreamt of universal happiness. A teenage decision that warrants him today with accolades unheard of and success that is off the charts!

He is branded India’s youngest CEO in the Yoga and Wellness sector by Bloomberg. He is all of 24 years old and has successfully created and manages a 100-crore empire today. Meet Chennai’s ever buoyant and magnetic personality Sarvesh Shashi who is the founder of Zorba – A Renaissance Studio, which is touted as a distinctive health and wellness institute that uses the practice of yoga as the base.  What is perhaps equally fascinating is that he comes from an affluent family that owns 18 different  types of companies and businesses in the varied fields of export and imports of steel, distribution of commercial and FMCG products, real estate and education sectors to name a few. Yet, Sarvesh chose to carve his own path and found his true calling in the field of yoga and holistic wellness.

“Approaching Vignesh Shankar of Dandekar Capital worked like a blessing as he not only helped in the valuation but also initiated the merger with the Talwalkars group”

“Zorba is a way of life that thrives on the concept of living each day fully to realise your true potential and endless possibilities. Having practised this art form and to feel the holistic approach of living is the only way known to me and spreading this love and happiness to people remains the mission of our studios,” explains Sarvesh.

But let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. Don’t visualise him as a stereotypical yogi or a saint in traditional garb. Yes, he did undergo a rigorous transformation that saw him meditate for nine hours and was once completely cut off from the world for 40 days; think silence, celibacy, away from family, friends, technology and such. But he is your quintessential metrosexual man who loves to take care of himself, is immaculately groomed, well versed with fashion brands and is often seen hobnobbing with his closest friends, taking off for a vacation every quarter and who also enjoys to dabble in photography and can double up as a stylist for friends and family. “My inspiration is in the applause of audience, I am a true performer” Sarvesh divulges. “Getting better as I help others and finding myself as I help in unravelling others’ potential is what inspires me. Trying to groom the mentality of people that they are each capable of limitless possibilities and connecting seven billion breaths is what Zorba has set out to achieve.” Valued currently at a staggering 112 crores as stated by him, Sarvesh’s vision in partnership with Talwalkars Better Value Fitness embodies two business modules that includes 30 studios in 9 cities across India with five of them in Chennai alone and about 70 more across 20 cities in the pipeline in the next 9 months. “When I started off in Dec 2013 alongside my mentor Mr. Antim Guru, the preconceived notion in our country sadly was that yoga was only for women, best suited to improve flexibility and that it was ideally for older people. Instantly, the 500 million people under 30 years became my target audience, with the mission being to make yoga – which is the unification of mind, body and spirit – appealing and enjoyable to all. Although the current format of Zorba includes meditation, pranayama,  chanting and more these are incorporated in the form of nuanced practices in various centres as paddleboard yoga, basketball yoga, insight yoga, stiletto yoga, aqua yoga, aerial yoga and  20 more such interesting forms of yoga.” It may all sound magnanimous now but the then-21-year-old Sarvesh simply wanted to start one centre, and not anymore for his averse interests in administration! That revolutionary numero uno centre too had a true purpose – to be able to successfully launch along with his guru a book on Right Brain Management to a sizeable audience. But, fate had far larger and more ambitious plans for the youngster. Although Sarvesh had no intentions to join the family business, it was his dad, Shashi Kumar and uncle Sunil Kumar, who helped with initial investments and over a casual conversation in  2015  suggested that he should ascertain the value of his brand. “Approaching Vignesh Shankar of Dandekar Capital worked like a blessing as he not only helped in the valuation but also initiated the merger with the Talwalkars group.

“Just like with every other first time entrepreneur, the whole journey of making mistakes and fixing them, financial prudence and perfecting your business model is phenomenal”

Unlike a standard merger with a huge corporation, Talwalkars have given me complete creative freedom to pursue my original Zorba vision while helping the brand grow pan India and soon become international.” Your biggest learning in this 3-year journey? “Obviously I am pleased beyond doubt with my growth and independence but it’s the satisfaction of pursuing a 100% in something   that highly excites me, serving as a constant reminder of how life is invaluable.” He further adds “Just like with every other first time entrepreneur, the whole journey of making mistakes and fixing them, financial prudence and perfecting your business model is phenomenal. Understanding man and management is the key and no business school is a better teacher than your own experience!” Sarvesh enlightens on a parting note. The young businessman has even had the chance to travel with 2 IPL teams for 3 years without officially signing for them and was part of the Under-19 cricket academy from TN and also learnt Bharatanatyam, other Latin dance forms and martial arts.

Quick takes:

Favourite value in life: “Love like there is no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again!”

Role models: Parents and mentor Antim Guru

Indebted to: Family, My closest bunch of 7 friends whom I’ve known since Std 8, Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar – The Prince of Royal House of Mewar and noted tarot card reader and Divination Therapist Pankhuri Agarwal

Fitness goals: To be more flexible Favourite hangouts in Chennai: Brew Room, Sandys and Rush sports arena

Squad Goals: “A trip with besties that we ensure once every quarter to create experiences that last a lifetime”

Favourite holiday: Spain and Brazil

Favourite brands: Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Hublot, Chanel for perfumes and Zara.

Favourite TV character: Simon Baker aka Patrick Jane, The Mentalist

Inspiring movie for entrepreneurs: Forrest Gump Favourite business quote: Richard Brandon’s “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”

Being young is: “Freedom with responsibility; freedom of thoughts and emotions”

Life apart from Zorba: Entrepreneur of six other ventures – Take Off, a marketing and branding agency, a quirky food kiosk called Mad over Madras, Rush- A multi-sport arena, Chrysal- A Start Up incubator, Dot- An interiors and architecture firm, Stranger than Fiction- A company that makes and produces online video content.