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Cafe Coffee Day's V.G. Siddhartha says the best advice he ever got helped him diversify investments

August 28, 2012
In 1984, I was working for JM Financial in Mumbai. Nimesh Kampani's uncle, the elderly Naveen Bhai Kampani was around, often giving us wise tips. Once he told me that the stock market was like a hot stream of gold. If you dip your hand in it with greed, you will burn your fingers. Instead, you must carefully remove gold in small quantities from the surface, and invest outside the stock market. That advice prompted me to buy coffee estates in Karnataka and diversify my investments.

Ten years later, I happened to meet a member of the family that owns Germany's best-known coffee brand Tchibo. They were buying green beans from us.

While discussing retail, I mentioned that it would require massive investment. He dismissed my concern, and told me Tchibo itself began in a small way, as a 10 sq.ft. shop in Hamburg in 1948. In 40 years, it became the second largest coffee roaster in Europe. The family members are multi-billionaires today.

The story opened my eyes: if Tchibo could achieve so much in 40 years, so can we. In fact, I entered the café business after hearing this inspiring tale. Cafe Coffee Day has completed only 17 years. In another 23 years, I am confident we will be another Tchibo in this part of.

As told to K.R. Balasubramanyam

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