VGS: Touched everyone’s life, yet not many knew him

VGS: Touched everyone’s life, yet not many knew him

The Cafe Coffee Day founder's body was found early this morning (AFP File Photo)

V G Siddhartha, whose body has been fished out of the Netravati river today morning, after he went missing on Monday night, has invariably touched every urban Indian’s life. However, not many knew him as the owner of the popular brand, especially outside Karnataka.

Café Coffee Day, the retail chain that he owns through Coffee Day Enterprise, has a presence in every town of India – small, large and metropolitan. Estimated to be selling close to 2 billion cups of coffee every year, the retail chain, seen as India’s own rival to Starbucks, the company’s cafe network stands at 1,751 stores spread across 243 cities in India.

“Unlike many other entrepreneurs, he remained under the radar and made an empire for him. He never liked much limelight,” a person who has worked with him said.

A dipstick survey of 10 people from tier II and tier III cities outside of Karnataka by DH, showed that even the people who used to frequent the CCD cafes didn’t know about its owner.

Born in Chikkamagaluru district in Karnataka, Siddhartha completed his post-graduation in economics from Mangalore University. After finishing his studies, Siddhartha joined investment banking J M Financial Limited in 1983-1984, at the age of 24, in Mumbai as a management trainee in Portfolio Management and started securities trading on the Indian Stock Market under Vice Chairman Mahendra Kampani.

After two years with J M Financial, Siddhartha returned to Bengaluru, when his father offered him funds to start a business of his choice.

Siddhartha bought a stock market card for Rs. 30,000 and a brokerage called Sivan Securities, which was renamed in 2000 as Way2wealth Securities. Its venture capital division came to be known as Global Technology Ventures (GTV) and turned it into a highly successful investment banking and stockbroking company.

People who have worked with Siddhartha, say that he may have been under financial stress and political pressure in recent months. Last year, the income tax department had conducted raids on his properties across Bengaluru.

In fact, Siddhartha had confided the pressure the private equity firm to a friend who knows him for the last 30 years. “We met two weeks back. He was complaining about the pressure by the PE firms to buy back the shares,” a friend of his confided to DH.

Buoyed by this feat, Siddhartha went on to build one of India’s largest coffee chains – CCD and became the coffee king of India.