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V.G SIDDHARTHA: A LOT HAPPENED OVER MAKING A COFFEE


What leads to a person to commit suicide?

Is it because they are coward?

Or it because they wanted to run away from their problems?

There are different reasons to it.

Generally people have a belief that running away from your problems is not good.

You have to face them.

But what if the problems are building up like a mountain on your life?

This is what happened with V.G Siddhartha.

He was known as the coffee baron of India.

Founder of Café Coffee Day, also known as CCD, has been a favorite hangout spot for people for many years.

Café coffee day is not just a brand name, it’s a part of people’s life.

As many of us might have bunked classes and went to CCD, many of us had our first ‘dates’ over there, not only that it’s a great spot for having business meetings as well.

But, the question that keeps on arising is that what might had led to the death of its founder?

With its company reaching its height, with a total of 1700+ outlets in India only. CCD has been globally ruling itself by its presence in more than 6 countries.

It has been stated that Café coffee day serves around 1.8 billion cups of coffee annually in six countries.

How incredible it is...

BRIEF HISTORY ABOUT V.G SIDDHARTHA

V.G Siddhartha was a very generous man.

He says that, “When we make money I feel we should spend some money on what is good for society”.

A person with so much sincerity and generosity considered himself as a ‘failed entrepreneur’.

V.G Siddhartha had coffee running in his veins. Being brought up by into a family of coffee plantation owners from Chikamangaluru district of Karnataka.

He had completed his Master’s degree in Economics from the Mangalore University of Karnataka.

Already being a son of a coffee plantation owner, his family had a good business in this field with 350acres of coffee estate which his family owned.

Being ambitious kept him motivated.

He thought of starting something of his own, something which he could create, and something which can be appealing to him as well as to other people.

Seeing how ambitious he was, his father gave him 5Lakh rupees, to start building up his ambition, and if failed, family business is always opened for him.

With such a positive response from his father, he initially bought a piece of land for 3lakhs, and kept the remaining in bank.

After that, he came to “the city of dreams”, Mumbai.

He lived in a Dhaba Hotel. Later the next day of his arrival in Mumbai he went to Mahendra kampani of J M Financial Services. (Now known as, J M Morgan Stanley)

After a healthy discussion he got the opportunity to work there as a management trainee/intern in trading in Indian Stock Market.

With his gaining knowledge in the world of investing, he later handled the accounts of big business houses. Kampani praised him a lot and he used to train him personally as well.

Siddhartha once said that it was due to his wise words that he ended up starting his own coffee estates.

After working for 2 years in J M financial and gaining so much expertise, Siddhartha was finally ready to start something of his own.

Later, he moved back to Bangalore after two years, and with his remaining 2lakhs he decided to start his own financial firm.

But during that period, stock market had crashed and he went on to look for new investment opportunity that would bring him good profits and returns.

He bought a stock market card for 30,000, and along with it he took over a company called Sivan Securities.
This company later came to be known as Way2wealth securities ltd in 2000.

FORMATION OF CAFÉ COFFEE DAY

With a span of 10 years, Siddhartha came across a German business owner.
His leading brand was Tchibo, and this owner was interested in buying the coffee beans from Siddhartha.

Listening to German’s inspiring story of starting his brand in a small 10ft shop and now had grown into a Multi-Million dollar business had left him awestruck.

Being such a small company and establishing itself in such a big firm, which now known as the second largest coffee roaster in Europe, developed a thought in Siddhartha’s mind.

According to him, this inspiring story changed his outlook of the world altogether, and had opened his eyes.

Due to such inspiration, Siddhartha opened “Amalgamated Bean Coffee” (ABC), a trading company which exported coffee in 1993.

This company grew in a good way.

Within a span of two years, ‘ABC’ became India’s largest Coffee exporter with an annual turnover of Rs.6 crores.

With the success of ABC, Siddhartha was ready as well as scared to face up challenges.

He was scared, as whenever there is a hoax regarding an improving economic climate of India, Big Europeans and US Trade houses stepped in and build their own brand as a competition.

Due to which he thought of building ground outlets that would be an undisolveable business plan.

But at that time, high import, export duties and government policies made it difficult for the Indian coffee planters to keep the prices low.

Therefore, Siddhartha took in charge and aimed to change this scenario in India.

And yet, he succeeded.
He came to New Delhi, convinced the Union Government.
 
And just, with a snap of fingers, the high prices came down drastically.

With ample amount of research done to build up coffee stores for selling branded coffee powder, risk factor was increasing.

Later, when he decided to leave this plan and start something else, something which entails a better survival plan, then in 1995, the trend of Café’s began globally and he just got lucky.

This has been a perfect opportunity for him, which he grabbed it.

He decided to make a cyber café with coffee and internet together.

And, with this 1996 saw the establishment of CAFÉ COFFEE DAY

The first Café coffee day outlet was opened in Bangalore on the Brigade road, with its tagline “A lot can happen over a coffee”.

Café Coffee Day or CCD soon became a hangout spot for people, especially among the youth.
With seeing its success, he soon opened more outlets.

CCD was reaching its success. With new products and inclusion of food items, it had  ruled over the hearts of people.

Today, CCD has around 1,700 cafes, around 60,000 vending machines, 30, 00+ employment, 532 kiosks and 403 ground coffee selling outlets.

Apart from his coffee business he also had different businesses like the real estates, Logistics, financial services etc.

coffee-day

WHAT LED TO DEMISE OF SIDDHARTHA?

Have you ever been on debt?

Have you ever felt the need of money urgently, and you don’t have that much amount so you take that amount from someone.

This is the beginning of establishing bile of debts.

Being in debt can be extremely stressful.
As a person’s mind is constantly blocked with the thought of the repayment of debt.

You always have a fear that what will happen if I don’t repay the debt?

This fear is constant, until the repayment.
But for some, especially big businessman this debt can be a dangerous thing.

Debt is such a vulnerable thing that it can kill a person.

Well, this is what led the demise of V.G Siddhartha.

Coffee Day enterprises which is known as the holding company of Café coffee day, was in great debt.

In March 2018, it had 4411crore debt and by March 2019 this increased to 6547crores.

This led to financial stress.

Not only this, his other companies like, Devadarshini Info was under 1171crore debt and Gonibedu Coffee estate was under 775crore debt.

Out of which 1028crore debt was personally guaranteed by him of the Coffee day enterprise.

The total debt had now reached 10,000crore, out of which Coffee day enterprise had 6547crore debt.

In order get aid from these debts he started giving most of his shares to banks, so that with that money he could clear off some debt.

But it’s not thousands of debt we are talking about, it was a debt of crores, which is not that easy to clear off.

Due to which, in the stock exchange, he sold his 20.41% stocks of an IT company, Mindtree. With this he earned 3200crore, which helped him to clear off some loan.

But again, this was not sufficient.

He was continuously planning to work this out. He even thought to sell off the Coffee day enterprises stakes to Coca-Cola.

All these debts were recent debts.
But the main story starts from 2017.

In 2017 his offices in 20 locations were raided by the Income Tax department.
IT department recovered 362crore of uncounted income. Thus, he even did a Tax-Fraud.

He was under a mountain of debts.

He had given majority of its shares.

Due to which he even bought short-term loans, to clear off its long term debts.
Availing short term debts for clearing long terms debts are quite risky.
As, these short term loans, itself comes with high interest.

SO much pressure, so much financial tension he had faced.

He was drowned in the debt trap so much, that he founded SUICIDE to be the only option.

And thus,
on 29th July’19, Siddhartha was reported to be missing from Bengaluru.

He was headed to Sakaleshpur. While on his way, he informed his driver to make a stop at the Netravali River in the Kotepura area in Dakshin Kannada district.

He got down from his car and told the driver that he is going for a walk. When it had been more than two hours and he didn’t arrive, driver got panicked and approached a missing complaint.
More than 200 people were involved in the search rescue mission.
25 boats carried out search operations for him.
Sniffer dogs were also brought to the spot.
Fisherman were also allotted “the search task”.

Police considered that this was a suicide case, and that he had jumped over the river.

But the body was yet to be discovered.

About 36 hours of intense search mission, finally his body was recovered by three fisherman near the Hoagie Bazar.

Police had also recovered a letter which he had written for the board of directors and its employees, stating…..

To our Board of Directors and Coffee day family,

After 37 years, with strong commitment to hard work, having directly created 30,000 jobs in our companies and their subsidiaries, as well as another 20,000 jobs in Technology Company where I have been a large shareholder since its founding, I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts.

I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me. I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation. There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG income tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking position of our Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch.

I sincerely request each of you to be strong and to continue running these businesses with a new management. I am solely responsible for all mistakes. Every financial transaction is my responsibility. My team, auditors and senior management are totally unaware of all my transactions. The law should hold me and only me accountable, as I have withheld this information from everybody including my family.

My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur. This is my sincere submission, I hope someday you will understand, forgive and pardon me.

I have enclosed a list of our assets and tentative value of each asset. As seen below our assets outweigh our liabilities and can help repay everybody.”

Regards,

V.G. Siddhartha

His suicide created huge depression to his family.
Financially, Café Coffee day stock price went down drastically.
CCD had run into losses of Rs 7,000 crore.

But apart from all this, CCD decided to shut down across the country in the memory of its founder, Mr. V.G Siddhartha…

BOTTOM LINE

Suicide is definitely not an option to end your problems.
Life is precious it might get extremely difficult to bear, but ending it is not a solution.

Siddhartha, might have left us, but his legacy still remains.
Apart from being in debts and frauds, He has always managed to make his customers happy.
With great coffee and happiness, he came to be known as the coffee king and coffee baron.

A lot had happen over a coffee, and a lot will continue to happen over a coffee…

By Anjali