A startup that wants to kill Lululemon just raised $6.5 million at a $74 million valuation

Yogasmoga foundersYogaSmogaRishi and Tapasya Bali, YogaSmoga’s founders.

Brother-sister duo Rishi and Tapasya Bali grew up at the base of the Himalayan mountains in India, an area known as the birthplace of yoga.

In 2010, both quit their Wall Street jobs — Rishi at Goldman Sachs and Tapasya at Credit Suisse — to start a company to bring them back to their yoga roots.

Their yoga apparel and lifestyle company, YogaSmoga, has now closed its $US6.5 million Series B round, valuing the company at $US74 million.

18 months ago, YogaSmoga was valued at $US10 million, Rishi Bali, the company’s CEO, tells Business Insider. The new round of funding was led by former Goldman Sachs partner Ravi Singh. Singh is also on YogaSmoga’s board of directors.

The New York-based company has retail locations in Greenwich, Connecticut and Los Angeles, and research and development locations in Massachusetts and California. Bali tells Business Insider that the company is growing quickly. In 18 months, YogaSmoga has grown from 2 to 40 employees, and Yogasmoga has plans to double its employee count this year.

To stand out from the competition, YogaSmoga positions itself as a more authentic yoga brand. Both its founders were raised in and understand the culture of yoga and the lifestyle around it.

Yogasmoga men's YogaSmogaMenswear makes up 15% of YogaSmoga’s business.

“While other companies use Yoga as a marketing tool, we are are yoga company that makes things for life and this difference in philosophy makes us operate at a much higher level than any of our competition and have a deeper connection with our customer,” Bali tells Business Insider. “
Our authentic connection to yoga helps us understand the needs of our customers and make a very luxurious product that stands up to the demands of the consumer.”

YogaSmoga’s prices are similar to its competitors: a pair of YogaSmoga “Ballerina” leggings retails for $US98, the same price as Lululemon’s Devi yoga pant. Instead of using cheap labour and materials, YogaSmoga has developed new fabric technology to create pill-resistant, moisture-wicking products and makes its products in the United States.

YogasmogaYogaSmogaYogaSmoga uses proprietary fabric technology to prevent pilling in its products.

“We have a commitment to how we dye our products,” Bali says. “We don’t use harmful formaldehyde based pigments that are harmful to the environment. We use superior dyes that don’t fade, don’t bleed — everything is done in super eco-friendly labs in California.”

In line with its commitment to the authenticity of yoga, Rishi tells Business Insider that the company also doesn’t retouch any of the pictures on its website.

“Our goal for YogaSmoga is to grow to be a leader in this category,” Bali tells Business Insider. “Both our products and ethos resonate with our consumer base and we are growing at a very rapid pace. We expect to be at 100 retail outlets in the US by 2018 and be close to our where our consumer is.”

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