Wednesday 31 July 2019

Malnad remembers VG Siddhartha: Coffee king who created jobs, inspired entrepreneurs

VG Siddhartha was one of the biggest entrepreneurs from Karnataka’s Malnad region, creating jobs for close to 50,000 people, including those from his home district.

The death of Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha as confirmed by Mangaluru police on Wednesday morning has left many in shock. His body was found at 6.30 am around 9 km from the spot where he went missing near a bridge on the Netravati river, more than 24 hours after a multi-department rescue operation began.

The 58-year-old was one of the biggest entrepreneurs from Karnataka’s Malnad region, creating jobs for close to 50,000 people, including those from his home district.

Siddhartha hailed from Chikkamagaluru district, the central part of Karnataka also known as Malnad, which is famed for its scenic hills, waterfalls, coffee estates and other plantations. The son of a coffee estate owner, Siddhartha’s family has been in the coffee growing business for 130 years.

Known as the coffee king of India, Siddhartha launched the first Café Coffee Day outlet in 1996 in Bangalore. Since then, the Coffee Day group has expanded massively, with the hospitality chain including two seven-star hotels. Siddhartha also had other business interests ranging from the furniture sector to IT to wealth management.

Jairam G Kimmane, a successful businessman from the region, said, “We are distant relatives and know him from 1985. He had established himself in a very big way. We all know him as a man of dignity and accountability. He has given a lot of jobs to people, especially for our people in that region. He is a prudent businessman who has been successful in managing such big plantations and build such a big brand.”

Halappa Gowda, a resident of Siddhartha's village and a long-time acquaintance, said, “He has given jobs to thousands of people who are employed in Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Coorg (districts forming Maland). Many people have gathered today after hearing the news. We are all worried about the situation. Even before him, his father used to manage acres of coffee plantations. He took over and has managed the business in the last few decades. He was a gem of a person. Very friendly and acted very humble with us.”

Many people who knew him personally vouch for his prudence in business and said that he was looked up to by entrepreneurs in India.

BS Arun, former president of Shivamogga District Chamber of Commerce, said that Siddhartha had very “good vision and very few people have come up like this over the years”.

“Nobody ever dreamt like him. At that moment, coffee was selling at a very high price, but he thought of retailing and building a brand. While there would be many investing in real estate or tourism, nobody like this invested in coffee and software business. He was a good motivator and provided employment to a lot of people,” Arun told TNM.

While Siddhartha commanded admiration from legacy businessman and people remember him as a job creator, a bunch of new-age entrepreneurs also looked up to him as inspiration.

Yashwanth Nag Mocherla, founder of The ThickShake Factory, a budding quick service restaurant chain, said, “First of all, for me and as well as hundreds of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs he was an inspiration.”

He added, “He wanted to build the Starbucks of India and even now when they have entered India, they are no match to CCD. My business plan for shakes was what CCD was for coffee. Since then and even today, we look up to CCD for inspiration, just to understand the market potential in every new city we go to. The kind of business that he has built over the last 25 years is phenomenal and don’t forget he was among the top four coffee exporters in the world.”

If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, consider reaching out to one of the following helplines:

Tamil Nadu:
State health department suicide helpline number - 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050

Telangana government suicide prevention toll free number - 104
Roshni - 040-66202000, 66202001
SEVA - 09441778290, 040-27504682 (between 9 AM and 7 PM)

Sahai 24-hour helpline numbers: 080-65000111, 080-65000222

Maithri helpline - 0484-2540530
Chaithram helpline - 0484-2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Andhra Pradesh:
Life Suicide Prevention Helpline - 78930-78930
Roshni -
Helpline 1: 9166202000
Helpline 2: 9127848584

(SOurce: TNM)

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