India’s Home-Brewed Hero: VG Siddhartha

Café Coffee Day is a fairly important part of everyday life for some people. For many, it’s where they can squeeze in breakfast before rushing off to work, while for some it’s a pleasant stop to enjoy desserts at—or for some, of course, just coffee. It has become an icon, be it for quick, informal meetings or first dates. Café Coffee Day is an home-grown venture, and its grand success has been pleasing to Indians as a whole, what with its increasing popularity at home.

It is also the reason why it came as a shock to the nation when it was discovered on the 31st of July that Veerappa Gangaiah Siddartha Hegde—better known as V.G. Siddartha, the founder of Café Coffee Day—had passed away. He’d been reported missing two days ago when his car was found near a bridge in Mangalore. A fisherman informed the police that his corpse was found near the shore. 

The police discovered letter a couple of hours after he went missing. In the letter, Siddartha apologized for not creating a profitable business model and stated that he gave up his fight to improve his business after becoming unable to handle the pressure. 

While investigations are still being made into the case, here’s a look back at Siddhartha’s CCD crusades. 

Siddhartha was born in the heartland of India’s coffee plantations, Chikmaglur. He started off his career as a intern in portfolio management. While his family was in the coffee business for over a century, he was reluctant to enter the industry and opened his own venture capital firm instead. Over time, his interest in the family business grew and manifested itself as Café Coffee Day. 

Over time, CCD flourished and expanded to unprecedented levels. Within India, Siddartha managed to successfully kick start the coffee shop/cafe culture, which inspired new avenues for businessmen and enterprise owners alike. Siddartha smartly linked the produce of his plantations to meet CCD’s coffee bean requirements, which proved to be extremely profitable. 

Over the last couple of years, with increasing competition in the market, Siddhartha’s business model started to lose its effectiveness, with his dept growing and profits slowing. 

The troubles amplified in late 2017, when the Income Tax Department raided multiple locations belonging to CCD and Siddhartha as part of the Demonetisation program. With the concealed Rs 650 crore+ was discovered, which led to more trouble. With his situation getting extremely out of control, he had to liquidate many of his assets and stock holdings earlier this year.

Siddhartha went missing on the 29th of July. En route to Mangalore that Monday evening, he told his driver to stop the car at a bridge near Ullala, and no one heard from him since. His body was discovered washed ashore a day later. 

The people from the coffee plantations at Malnad, which is Siddhartha’s hometown, continue to hold him in high regard. He was known to actively support the community’s welfare.

Siddhartha played a key role in establishing one of the most well known and widely recognized coffee chains in the country today. He was a shrewd businessman and a hero for the locals of Malnad. His legacy continues to live on in the cups of coffee we all regard so dearly.