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India Inc's finest: Best of Karnataka

Last updated on: October 5, 2011 14:03 IST

India Inc's finest: Best of Karnataka

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In this part, we highlight some of Karnataka's leading entrepreneurs. They are the ones who played a key role in defining its present cosmopolitan status, giving Karnataka a resonance in history and in international relations. Here, we feature some of the top entrepreneurs (not in any particular order).

Kiran Mujumdar Shaw – Biocon

At age 25, she started a biotech company in her garage. And, Kiran Mujumdar Shaw was never dettered by the fact that no one in the 70s had really heard about biotech.

Biocon International, which began its operations in 1978 with a sum of Rs 10,000, is now a $1 billion (approx) company. It all started because, because she didn't get a job as a brewer after getting herself trained in Australia.

She is quoted as saying, "Success is about pursuing a vision with a sense of purpose and a spirit of challenge. Biocon's byline is 'The difference lies in our DNA' and we all believe in it. We don't imitate other companies but have charted our own business destiny."

Her pioneering work in the sector has earned her several awards, including the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan award.

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VG Siddhartha – Amalgamated Bean Company (Cafe Coffee Day)

Best known as the founder-owner of the coffee chain, Cafe Coffee Day, Siddhartha's business interest spreads across coffee retailing, plantations, real estate, venture capital and financial services. He is also the brain behind Way2Wealth and the founder of Sivan Securities.

He started his coffee trading company ABC in 1993, and set up the first CCD outlet in 1996. Today, it's a popular hangout with people across age groups.

What makes his business interesting is that he follows a vertically integrated model. This means almost everything that CCD needs - coffee, furniture, waste management, coffee machines, logistics - is sourced in-house. Siddhartha owns 10,000 acres of coffee plantations.

This successful model has now prompted him to own an entire chain in furniture. After creating a successful model coffee retail chain, Siddhartha (as quoted in Forbes India) says, "My dream is to create an IKEA from India."

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Narayana Murthy – Infosys

Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy is an inspiration to many young entrepreneurs. He and his team were amongst the first ones to introduce India to terms like off-shoring, outsourcing and global delivery model.

Born on August 20, 1946, NR Narayana Murthy is a BE Electrical from University of Mysore (1967) and M-Tech from IIT Kanpur (1969).

Narayan Murthy began his career with Patni Computer Systems in Pune. In 1981, Narayana Murthy founded Infosys with six other software professionals.

Murthy was CEO of the company from 1981 to 2002. After his long 20 years tenure, in August 2011, he retired from the post of the head of Infosys, to don the role of the Chairman Emeritus.

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Image: (Left to right) Sudha Murthy, N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and Rohini Nilekani.

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Azim Premji – Wipro

Chairman of Wipro Technologies, Azim Premji has many achievements to his credit. In 2000, Asiaweek magazine, voted Azim Premji as one of the 20 most powerful men in the world.

He was also among the 50 richest people in the world from 2001 to 2003 listed by Forbes.

In April 2004, Times Magazine, rated him among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. And, in 2005, Government of India honoured Azim Premji with Padma Bhushan.

He is an icon among Indian businessmen and his success story is a source of inspiration to a number of budding entrepreneurs.

Azim Premji took over the reins of family business in 1966 at the age of 21, after the sudden demise of his father.

And, under his leadership Wipro has metamorphosed from a Rs 70 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats to a pioneer in providing integrated business, technology and process solutions on a global delivery platform. Today, Wipro Technologies is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world.

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Vijay Mallya - UB Group, Kingfisher Airlines, Forceone India

Flamboyant is the most commonly used adjective to describe Vijay Mallya. Well, people who are close to him do say that he does live life kingsize.

Prior to joining UB group, Vijay Mallya worked for the American Hoechst Corporation (now Sanofi-Aventis) in the US and with Jenson & Nicholson in the UK.

Since 1980, he assisted his father, the then chairman of the UB Group, and played a crucial role in re-launching the Kingfisher Brand. Later, he assumed the position of chairman in October 1983.

On personal front, he is a keen sportsman and an ardent aviator and yachtsman of distinction. He not only participates in various sporting events but also supports various sporting activities worldwide.

It's this passion that made him the first Indian ever to become the owner of a Formula One Team - Force India Formula One.

In addition to this, Vijay Mallya has received several professional awards both in India and overseas. He was conferred a Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Administration, by the Southern California University, Irvine. He has also been nominated as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.

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Image: Vijay Mallya with his F1 team

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Sadanand Maiya – MTR Foods Ltd

Sadananda Maiya is scion of the Maiya family that started the iconic MTR restaurant.

The Mavalli Tiffin Room, commonly referred to as MTR, is the brand name of a food related enterprise located in India. The founders also claims MTR to be the inventor of the popular South-Indian breakfast item, Rava idli.

Sadanand Maiyahas was part of the restaurant for almost 25 years. He headed MTR Foods till March 2007, when it was sold to Norwegian-based Orkla Foods.

Now, he has started a new initiative - Maiya's, a leading food technocrat. The plan includes a greenfield project for a state-of-the-art production plant at an investment of Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) and a distribution network to foray into the national and international markets.

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Subroto Bagchi - MindTree Consulting

Subroto Bagchi co-founded MindTree in 1999, where he started as the Chief Operating Officer. In 2008, Bagchi took on the role of Gardener at MindTree.

In this new role, Bagchi spends one-on-one time with the top-100 leaders at MindTree on their "personal-professional" issues to expand leadership capacity and build readiness for taking MindTree into the billion-dollar league.

Subroto Bagchi has also written for leading newspapers and magazines. He has authored three business best-sellers: The High Performance Entrepreneur, Go Kiss the World and The Professional as Penguin Portfolio books.

He was raised in the tribal district of Orissa where he studied in government schools, until Class 11. Today, he is responsible for leading the Global People Function, Global Marketing and Facilities and Administration, and oversees Special Projects, Culture and Competence and Knowledge Management initiatives.

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Photographs: Courtesy, MindTree
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Captain G R Gopinath, pioneer of low-cost airlines

He is well-known as the founder of Air Deccan - India's first low cost airline. He set up Air Deccan in 2003, with a vision to enable the common man to fly.

He is also the founder and chairman of Deccan 360, an air cargo logisitics company which already has India's largest air cargo network.

Further, he also started Deccan Charters (formerly Deccan Aviation), India's first helicopter company in the private sector.

Born in 1951, in a remote village of Karnataka's Hassan district Capt. Gopinath studied in a Kannada medium village school till class VII.

He later got selected to the Sainik School at Bijapur, after which he joined the National Defense Academy (NDA). In 1971, he was commissioned as Officer in the Indian Army and served in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

He resigned from the Army after eight years of service and decided to take up agriculture. In 1996 he was awarded the "Rolex International Award for Enterprise for breaking new ground with his project Ecological Silk Farming to Improve Living Standards".

Capt. Gopinath has been honoured with prestigious awards such as the "Rajotsava Award" by Government of Karnataka, "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" the highest civilian award conferred by the French Government, "Laureate Award" in the Outstanding Global CEO category by Aviation week, New York and the "Editors Choice Award" by Indian Express for the biggest impact on tourism in India.

Now, he has captured all his successful moments, challenges, highs and lows of Air Deccan in his bestselling book - Simply Fly.

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Photographs: Reuters
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T V Narayana Shastry – Pearlite Lines Ltd

TV Narayana Shastry took initiatives to develop Shimoga district in Karnataka into a hub of automobile industry. He also served as president of Shimoga District Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2000-04.

Narayana Shastry, along with his friend Gundu Rao, established Auto Machine Shop, a small-scale industry, in the city in 1954. He established Bharat Foundry in 1964 and Pearlite Liners in 1974.

He was also the recipient of Rajyotsava award for 2007 and Vayoshrestha Samman in 2009 from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

And in August 2011, TV Narayana Shastry died of cardiac arrest at his residence here on Saturday. He was 84.

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Shamanur Shivashankarappa – Shamanur Sugars Ltd

The 80-year patriarch of Shamanur Sugars Ltd is also the current Member of the Legislative Assembly of Davanagere south.

In addition to being the chairman of Shamanur Sugars, he also the chairman of Bapuji Educational Association which owns a chain of educational institutions including Bapuji Institute of Engineering & Technology.

His son Shamanur Mallikarjun was Minister for youth and Sports in the Government of Karnataka.

Shamanur Shivashankarappa is the owner of Beechcraft King Air C90, and prefers to fly in his personal aircraft to hop in and out of his sugar factories in Karnataka.

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Ramjee Chandran - Explocity magazines

Ramjee Chandran is the publisher and managing director of Explocity Pvt Ltd. He entered the business of publishing in 1989 with the launch of a magazine called Bangalore This Fortnight (BTF).

Around the time when India was just waking up to the world of Internet, Ramjee Chandran had already gone online with Bangaloremag.com - one of the first city-centric websites in the world.

Today, Explocity.com is the aggregation of eight city-centric portals in three countries including India, New York and Dubai. After investment from US-based ICF Ventures, media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp invested in Explocity.

Ramjee Chandran is also a jazz guitarist and has a passion for chess.



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