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‘Wow! Momo’ founder credits CCD founder VG Siddhartha for making Indians fall in love with coffee



‘Wow! Momo’ founder Sagar Daryani says he believes in the truism of failure being a stepping stone to success. Just putting in your best efforts makes it a success, he says. “You may have failed or seen failures, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a success yourself. Success is about giving your best,” he says. Not just stories with a happy ending, but also the journeys the founders go through teach him something, he says.

“That’s why VG Siddhartha [Café Coffee Day founder] will always be an inspiration for me. He taught a tea-drinking country how to have coffee. I think even my start-up idea came in a coffee shop, so I owe it to him,” he says. Daryani also looks up to other role models in the fields of tech and retail. “If it’s retail, I look up to Kishore Biyani. If it’s technology, I would love to listen to someone like a Jack Ma or Elon Musk talk,” Daryani says.

The disappearance and demise of Café Coffee Day owner VG Siddhartha left the country in shock. On Saturday, the coffee tycoon wrote a letter addressed to his ‘Coffee Day’ family where he apologised to them for failing as an entrepreneur and opened up about the pressure he had been dealing with. On Monday he went missing from Mangaluru, and 36 hours later his body was recovered by the fishermen in the city’s Hoige Bazaar.The tragic episode saw tributes pour in for the billionaire businessman, whose ‘A lot can happen over a coffee’ idea brought enthusiasts closer and sparked the trend of coffee dates in India.Despite running a mega empire, the camera-shy 60-year-old tycoon preferred to stay away from the limelight and mostly maintained a low-profile.

Siddhartha was born in 1960 to coffee plantation owner Gangaiah Hegde in Chikkamagalur, Karnataka (his family has been in the coffee business for almost 130 years). Growing up in the district known for its coffee estates, the coffee baron completed his master’s degree from Mangalore University.During the early ’90s, as a budding entrepreneur, he tied the knot with Malavika Hegde, the daughter of former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Indian Minister for External Affairs and Governor of Maharashtra, S.M. Krishna. They had two sons, Ishan and Amarthya.

He began his career at the age of 24 as a management trainee with JM Financial Limited in Mumbai, where he worked from 1983 to ’84. In the mid ’80s, he invested his earnings in the stock market on Chikkamagaluru’s coffee plantations, and in 1984, bought an investment banking and brokering firm, Sivan Securities – that was later renamed to Way2Wealth Securities Ltd.A few years later, using the money given to him by his father as capital, he bought a coffee unit in Hassan, and founded Amalgamated Bean Company Trading in 1993. Two years later, it became India’s largest green coffee exporter. Siddhartha grew coffee, sold and exported tonnes of it, earning millions from the business. The owner of 12,000 acres of coffee plantation, he also had 200 exclusive retail outlets selling his Coffee Day powder all over South India.In 1996, he set up his first coffee outlet, naming it Café Coffee Day. The first CCD opened its doors at Brigade Road in Bengaluru.Twenty-three years later, the brand now runs over 1700 outlets, making CCD the country’s largest retail coffee chain. It also operates cafes in Austria, Malaysia, and Egypt.With a burgeoning business to bank on, Siddhartha earned a spot on the 2014 Forbes India’s Rich list. However, a year later, he dropped off.

2017 proved to be the start of a professionally difficult time for Siddhartha, who was then also attending to his 94-year-old father at the time. The coffee tycoon found himself caught in the middle of a tax evasion case. 20 properties owned by him, in Bengaluru, Chennai, Chikkamagaluru and Mumbai, were subjected to a raid by the income tax department.

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