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Global superstar Jennifer Lopez, others back wellness startup Sarva
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Yoga and wellness startup Sarva on Thursday said it has raised its first round of external funding from a clutch of investors including global pop artist Jennifer Lopez and her fiance Alex Rodriquez.

Malaika Arora, Indian celebrity; Bill Roedy, former chief executive and chairman of MTV Networks; Mark Mastrov, founder of fitness firm 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc; and David Giampaolo, chairman and CEO of investor network Pi Capital also invested in the company, said Sarva in a statement. US-based branded fitness company Zumba® Fitness LLC also participated in the funding round, it added.

Sarva, which is operated by Zorba Renaissance Pvt. Ltd, has 91 yoga and wellness studios in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru at present. The company aims to launch its digital offerings in mindfulness music, guided meditation, and interactive fitness space by the end of this year.

Founded by Sarvesh Shashi in March 2016, the company expects to have 500 brick and mortar studios in about 15 cities in the country and build a global community of over 100 million customers on its digital platform by 2022.

“Stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, depression and obesity have become a global epidemic for people of all ages and we are trying to curate physical and digital offerings and services for different needs, ages and geographies to help people empower themselves with the tools to lead better lives," said Shashi.

The statement noted that the global wellness market is pegged at $4.2 trillion, out of which the fitness, mind, and body segment accounts for $595 billion, and the yoga market constitutes $80 billion.

Domestic health and fitness startup Cure Fit Healthcare Pvt. Ltd is the most heavily funded startup in the country. The startup, which was founded by Myntra co-founder Mukesh Bansal and former Flipkart executive Ankit Nagori in 2017, is reportedly expected to raise a larger Series D round of funding that is expected to value the company at $500 million.

Celebrity funding in Indian startups

Indian celebrities from varied fields betting on startups in past years is not uncommon but Sarva can boast of having an international superstar on its list of investors.

Last year, VCCircle trawled through its in-house data analytics platform VCCEdge as well as numerous media reports and came up with at least 32 celebrities who have reportedly invested in as many as 67 startups and other companies.

In 2010-11, Amitabh Bachchan, one of India's most popular actors, become one of the first Indian celebrities to make a venture-style investment, when he bet on search services portal Just Dial.

Last year, actor Priyanka Chopra invested in online dating app Bumble before it entered the India market in what was a major funding round by an Indian celebrity in a startup with an international presence.

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