His initial days in Mumbai are movie script-worthy. Arriving in his dream city, Siddhartha walked into a Dhaba Hotel and rented a room with a shared toilet for Rs 120 a day south Mumbai’s Fort area. The next day, armed with a one-point agenda to meet legendary investor Mahendra Kampani of JM Financial, Siddhartha trespassed into his office without an appointment. Unfamiliar with elevators, he climbed six floors to meet Kampani. After a short wait and a healthy discussion, he got the lifetime opportunity to join Naveen Bhai Kampani as an intern.
After a two-year stint with JM Financials during which he learnt the nuances of trading, Siddhartha returned to Bengaluru in to launch Sivan Securities — a stock trading company (now operates as Way2Wealth). Subsequently, his childhood association with coffee prompted him to launch Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company in 1992, which emerged as a leading exporter of coffee. Later, he replicated the Starbucks model in India with the launch of his signature coffee retail business, Café Coffee Day in 1995.
People familiar with Siddhartha vouch for his simplicity and self-depreciating style. “As a person, he is amicable and down-to-earth. As an empathetic leader, he personally connects with people,” said a person who has seen him from close quarters.
His knack for value investment dates back to 1995 when he infused capital in Kshema Technologies, which was acquired by MphasiS. He also took an early exposure in Mindtree way in 1999. Since 1995, he had invested in more than 15 technology companies
including chip-designing firm Ittiam Software, and GlobalEdge Technologies, among others.
Other than the coffee retail chain and his investment in tech firms, the Coffee Day Group has now forayed into diverse fields in its bid to emerge as a business conglomerate in coming years. The group has forayed into real estate through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tanglin which develops technology parks and Special Economic Zones for the IT industry. Its logistics arm, Sical, provides end-to-end solutions in port handling, road and rail transport areas. The group has also ventured into hospitality through Coffee Day Hotels & Resorts. Way2Wealth is a leading financial service provider from Coffee Day's stable.
Siddhartha’s impending stake sale efforts in Mindtree is linked to his need for capital to grow his businesses. Brokerage firm reports suggested that Coffee Day Enterprises, with a consolidated debt of around Rs 3,500 crore, wants to pare debt. This decision is driven by the fact that the Coffee Day Enterprises' share price continues to trade below its listing price.
While speculation is rife about multiple suitors for Siddhartha’s Mindtree stake, his relationship with the IT major’s founders remains sound, a testimony to his leadership. "While as founders of the company, we have a lot more emotional and intensity in the company, Siddhartha also has an equal level of commitment because in a way, he has also grown with the company," said Mindtree's Executive Chairman, Krishnakumar Natarajan. With relationships considered the most valuable currency in business, Siddhartha is the corporate leader to watch out for.