Malaika Arora, Jennifer Lopez invest in Talwalkars-backed yoga chain Sarva
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Zorba Renaissance Pvt. Ltd, which operates the Sarva chain of yoga studios, has raised over $4 million (Rs 27 crore) from a clutch of individual investors, including Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities.

The funding round valued Sarva close to $20 million, according to Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd, which had acquired a 50% stake in the yoga chain in January 2016.

The Mumbai-listed gymnasium chain said in a stock-exchange disclosure that the investors in the angel funding round included Bollywood actors Shahid Kapoor and Malaika Arora, and Hollywood  actor-singer Jennifer Lopez.

David Giampaolo, chief executive at London-based investor club Pi Capital, and Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, also participated in this round.

Talwalkars didn't give any financial details of the angel funding round. But it said that Sarva is now gearing up for an institutional round of funding.

Zorba, launched in 2013 by Sarvesh Shashi, operates a chain of 91 open or under-construction studios under the Sarva brand. It offers multiple courses in yoga and Zumba and alternative healing therapies for ailments such as asthma and diabetes.

The company launched its first-ever women's only yoga center Diva-Yoga in Bandra, Mumbai in association with Malaika Arora, in October 2018. It recently partnered with budget hospitality chain OYO to set up 500 wellness studios across select OYO Townhouses in India.

Talwalkars has two core offerings – basic fitness centre and lifestyle. The former is the mainstay of the company and is marked by a combination of owned and asset-light properties. The latter comprises a combination of asset-heavy offerings, including a club chain with David Lloyd Leisure Ltd, and lifestyle services such as zumba, yoga and aerobics.

Apart from Sarva, Talwalkars had struck several acquisitions in the past. In November 2015, it acquired a 51% stake in Chennai-based Inshape Health and Fitnez Pvt Ltd. In 2017, it acquired a majority stake in Force Fitness India Pvt Ltd, the master franchisee of US-based fitness clubs operator Snap Fitness Inc.

The investment by Malaika Arora and Shahid Kapoor is the latest example of celebrities funding startups and ventures across sectors. In May, for instance, actor Deepika Padukone invested in greek yogurt brand Epigamia while actor and producer Suniel Shetty invested an undisclosed amount in Pune-based fitness and nutrition startup Squats.

Other examples include Amitabh Bachchan, who has invested in local search service platform Just Dial Ltd, and Priyanka Chopra, who has funded dating app Bumble.

*A previous version of the article incorrectly named actor Jennifer Aniston as an investor, instead of Jennifer Lopez.

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