Vital Stats: George Lichter, 53, and Rob Wrubel, 44, of Yoga Works
Company: yoga studios in Los Angeles; New York City; Orange County, California; and Westchester, New York
2005 Projected Sales: roughly $20 million
Repositioned: Lichter and Wrubel met at a children's educational software company and later moved to Ask Jeeves, where Wrubel was CEO and Lichter president of Ask Jeeves International. Wrubel left to escape the high-stress lifestyle but discussed starting a new venture with Lichter. When each partner noticed that the other "was looking better, standing up straighter," says Wrubel, they found they were both doing yoga, and took action.
United Front: Rather than start from scratch, they built their business from existing ones, and acquired Yoga Works, with two Los Angeles locations, in 2001. "It had trained so many of the famous, most revered instructors in the nation in its 17 years of operations," Lichter explains. "It provided an entire network of high-quality instructors and training we thought would be great to have at the nucleus." The partners have since taken over 10 more existing studios, built two new ones and have plans for more.
Bridging the Gap: Besides offering classes, workshops, retreats and teacher training, the entrepreneurs aspire to make yoga available to a wider audience via corporate programs and through instruction at senior centers and health facilities.
Well-traveled: Yoga Works is developing partnerships with airlines and travel operators to create large-scale tours for yoga enthusiasts and is also considering strategies for reaching beyond the major cities that have embraced yoga.