V. G. Siddhartha
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Siddhartha (now known V. G. Siddhartha) obtained a Master's degree in economics from Mangalore University, Karnataka. He married the daughter of S. M. Krishna, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Indian Minister for External Affairs and Governor of Maharashtra.
After doing his Masters he joined J M Securities Limited in Mumbai as a management trainee/intern in trading on the Indian Stock Market under Mr. Mahendra Kampani. After two years with J M Securities Limited, when Siddhartha returned to Bangalore, his father gave him money to start a business of his choice. Siddhartha bought a stock market card for Rs 30,000, along with a company called Sivan Securities, which was renamed in 2000 as Way2wealth Securities Ltd with vision to set "new standards in the retail financial services in India". Its venture capital division came to be known as Global Technology Ventures (GTV) as well as a site in the city in 1984 and turned it into a highly successful investment banking and stock broking company.
Almost 15 years later, Siddhartha established a successful coffee business in Karnataka. He grows coffee in Chikmagalur and exports about 28,000 tonnes of coffee annually and sells another 2,000 tonnes locally for about Rs 350 million each year. His coffee growing and trading company, Amalgamated Bean Company (ABC), has an annual turnover of Rs 25 billion. Siddhartha now has 200 exclusive retail outlets selling his brand of Coffee Day powder all over South India. ABC is India's largest exporter of green coffee.
He owns 12,000 acres (4047 ha) of coffee plantations.
He started his coffee trading company ABC in 1993, with a Rs 60 million turnover. His company grew gradually. He bought an ailing coffee curing unit in Hassan for Rs 40 million and turned it around. Now, his company has a curing capacity of 75,000 tonnes, which is the largest in the country.
He was the first entrepreneur in Karnataka to set up a cyber café in 1996 (Café Coffee Day, a chain of youth hangout coffee parlors). Now, he has 1,407 Coffee Day Cafes in India. Siddhartha also hopes to win the contract to take his chain to all the airports of Karnataka and then to the rest of the country. His cyber cafes attract at least 40,000 to 50,000 visitors a week.
Siddhartha was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year title in 2003 by The Economic Times for "crafting a successful pan Indian brand for a commodity business and giving Indian consumers a new lifestyle experience that is within reach of the common man".
Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company Ltd. today is the largest exporter of green coffee from India and perhaps one of the two fully integrated coffee companies of Asia, involved in all sectors of coffee from plantations to retailing to exports. Coffee Day Group today is the only fully integrated and the largest coffee conglomerate in India and is credited with creating the "coffee revolution" in India — acknowledged by the Coffee Board of India Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company Ltd.. From a handful of cafés in six cites in the first five years, Café Coffee Day has become India's largest and premier retail chain of cafes with 1,530 cafes in 135 cities.
Siddhartha also founded Global Technology Ventures Ltd. in 2000, a company that identifies, invests and mentors Indian companies engaged in cutting edge technologies. Currently,[when?] he also holds board seats in GTV, Mindtree, Liqwid Krystal, Way2Wealth and Ittiam. GTV has now set up a global technology village on a 59-acre (240,000 m2)technology incubator park in Bangalore, which will provide office space, communication links, recreational facilities and even a commercial centre. GTV was valued by BankAm at $100 million last year,[when?] and is expected to have doubled its valuation this year.[when?] It is poised to grow on the lines of Softbank of Japan.
He has planted banana trees on 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) and plans to export bananas.
He owns a furniture company called The Dark Forest Furniture Company, named after Kathale Kaad Estate (Black Forrest), his estate in Chickamagalur, which is venturing into furniture by building a 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) factory in Chikmagalur, Karnataka, which will use timber from his coffee plantations in India and a rainforest in Guyana. It initially plans to supply furniture to Cafe Coffee Day outlets. However, the construction of the facility is yet to begin. V G Siddhartha has taken 1.85 million hectares of Amazonian forestland on a 30-year lease from the Republic of Guyana in South America to start a furniture business in India. The idea is to transport cut logs on chartered ships from the Guyanese capital Georgetown to the Mangalore Port and then carry them via road to the Coffee Day Group’s furniture plant in Chikmagalur. The Amazonian hard wood varieties coming to Indian shores through this route will include Greenheart, Purpleheart, Wallaba and Bullet Wood. The royalty that Siddhartha will pay the Guyanese government is not clear. Siddhartha declined to comment on the matter. A couple of years ago, the Coffee Day Group had started a furniture unit to capitalize on the huge depository of full-grown silver oak, teak wood, rose wood and mahogany trees grown in its 15,000-acres of coffee gardens in Chikmagalur. The unit designs multi-purpose furniture for home, kitchen, office, hotels and retail outlets. It also manufactures all kinds of plywood, wood boards, panel sheets and beadings, making use of the wood waste and saw powder. But it has so far remained mostly as a captive unit, serving the requirements of the Group’s coffee outlets and the resorts under the brand name Serai.
Now Siddhartha is planning to ramp up his furniture business in India and will soon float a new company called Dark Forest Furniture Company that will represent all segments of furniture including modern, classic, ethnic for home, retail, office, lounges and life-style and entertainment furniture. While there are a number of players in furniture, including Godrej, Wipro, Featherlite, Reliance, Zuari, and Durian, the focus for many is office furniture, and for others, there is a great deal of dependence on imported furniture. The Coffee Day Group has been on a major expansion drive, particularly following a $200 million (about Rs 1,000 crore) private equity investment in April last year from New Silk Route, KKR and StanChart PE. It took a controlling stake in logistics company Sical for Rs 200 crore in November last year. The Café Coffee Day chain, already 1,100 outlet strong, plans to take it to 2,000 by 2014, and has just started a new lounge format. According to sources, the Guyanese government is in the process of rectifying a non-functional woodcutting and log-sizing unit at the leased forest area and shipping of logs will start once that unit becomes functional.
The Guyanese government allows cutting of only four full-grown trees from every hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) and when one tree is cut, it is mandatory to replant another to maintain the ecological balance of the Amazon rainforest.