Coffee with a Pinch of Salt VG Siddhartha

Coffee With A Pinch Of Salt

Are Modern Day Entrepreneurs Gullible or are the Tax advisors Shrewd?

Respected Sir, I know things were never easy for you and that’s the harsh reality that every entrepreneur faces. You address yourself as a failure in your suicide note and I want to tell you, that I disagree.

Thank you for teaching Indians that good coffee and good conversations are synonymous. Thank you for training and creating an army of baristas which helped direct employment and also paved the way for numerous roasteries around the country. Thank you for providing employment to visually challenged and hearing-impaired people and giving them the means to earn a livelihood.

Three days ago coffee connoisseurs started their day with the grave news that Mr. Siddhartha has passed away, the taste of coffee suddenly turned sour. Siddhartha’s death marks a tragic turn for an admired member of the business elite.

Over the course of more than 2 decades, Siddhartha built a java empire that now boasts more than 1700 stores. 10 times as many outlets as Starbucks Corp India as well as 54,000 vending machines almost singlehandedly, his efforts introduced this tea-loving nation to coffee shops by making his CCD chain a household name.

A visionary and a pioneer of his own, Siddhartha set the standard of excellence for all budding entrepreneurs. After achieving so much, one must wonder, what made him give up on his life? What could have gone so drastically wrong, that made him take this step?

His death reveals how weak an Indian entrepreneur is at the time of crisis and forces us to question if the treatment by tax terrors are inhumane, torturous and illegal?

Suicide note by VG Siddhartha

Let’s delve deeper into the issue: In a typewritten note released by the news agency ANI, Mr.Siddhartha, the founder of the largest chain of coffee shops, Cafe Coffee Day and a prominent early Investor in the successful IT services company, MINDTREE LTD. appeared to apologize for failing to create the right profitable business model. He said pressure from his private equity partners and other lenders, as well as harassment from the income tax department, had become unbearable. “My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur,” are words from his final note, that’ll haunt every entrepreneur in the country.

Siddhartha struggled with a mounting financial burden. A review of the public disclosures of Siddhartha’s personal debt reveals how he spent much of the 2 years before his death putting up ever more of his CCD shares to refinance loans for ever shorter periods at ever-higher rates of interest.

In his letter to the board, Siddhartha laid out the value of his various businesses saying that assets overweigh liabilities. Lenders started demanding collateral. 76 percent of Siddhartha and his family’s total shares in the company had been put up as collateral for loans by June of this year.

The scenario deteriorated further with one of CCD’s private equity investors forcing him to buy back the company’s shares and harassment by the income tax authorities which delayed a needed infusion of funds from the sale of shares in a tech company he owned, creating a liquidity crunch.

We all talk about farmer suicides in India. But how many of us take cognizance of failed business-related suicides? The other day I watched an excellent interview with Ex Infosys Director Mr.Mohandas Pai, who had some interesting interrogatives that are much needed in the hour. He mentioned about how officials should be given executive power and not judiciary power, tax terror is at a helluva reach, what is the remedy for wrongful arrest?

Corporate India is gripped by tax terrorism, We hear these concerns happening in totalitarian Stalinist states, not in a Powerful democracy. He further urges corporate leaders to take a stand on the issue and mentions India has a broken assessment system, where appeals and verdicts take over a decade to form its notion The CBDT terrorizes tax authorities and they later terrorize businessmen. He further mentions that we can’t increase tax without economic growth. Also, Entrepreneurs should face extensive counseling under despicable scenarios. India need’s to look after their entrepreneurs with equal elan and make note of the fact that these people are the face of corporate India.

Thank you, Mr.Siddhartha, for setting an F&B chain so strong that Starbucks had to sit up and notice that Indians weren’t behind. I wish we could let you know how a lot happened over coffee and how college students are forever in your debt for pocket-friendly coffee & the ability to chill for hours at your outlets. Rest In Peace Coffee King.

Pramita Mohapatra
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  1. Well done Pramita. So many lessons learnt in a life that was cut short.

  2. Well written Pramita. After reading ur article I could actually keep myself in his shoes and think what does it actually take for an entrepreneur to set up a strong F&B chain in this competitive business life. You have actually pen down the thoughts ? of an entrepreneur what they go through during hardship in business and also at the same time this gives a lesson to every startup mind who would read this article to have faith in there potential and be wise to handle the educated robbers out there. Bravo…keep sharing more

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