Celebrating Coimbatoreans Entrepreneurship

TiE’s (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Holds Coimbatore Vizha

It’s celebration time for Coimbatoreans as TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), Coimbatore chapter is hosting the Coimbatore Vizha to showcase the different facets of Coimbatore’s entrepreneurship. Looking back the stalwarts, who were responsible for making the city to be what it is now is always fascinating.
Coimbatore has been an entrepreneurial centre for thousands of years. The entrepreneurs of this region exported fabrics, jewellery and agricultural implements to Rome during the heydays of the Sangam Era. They maintained the trade routes, permitted the Romans to have settlements at Vellalore besides having soldiers protecting the infrastructure concerned. The Roman gold was taken from this region by Aditya Chola (875 – 907) and it was used by his son Parantaka Chola I (907 – 955) to gild the temple tower at Chidambaram.
The hydrological infrastructure created by the Cholas helped the entrepreneurs and farmers of this region. The money earned thus made Kongunad prosperous. The Vijayanagar rule brought in prosperity and wealth. The military garrison at the fort built by them used to oversee 30 Palayams for centuries. A number of merchants and entrepreneurs added to the wealth of the region. Unfortunately the Anglo Mysore Wars (1767 – 1799) drove people away from Coimbatore. The city was declared as the district headquarters by the East India Company on 24th November 1804 and this day is being celebrated as Coimbatore Day. The opening up of Nilgiris by John Sullivan in the year 2019 added to the entrepreneurship in the region. Quite a few Europeans and Indians came up with a number of ventures on the hills surrounding Coimbatore. These ventures added to the business in the region. The Stanes family did much and Sir Robert Stanes constructed the Coimbatore Spinning & Weaving Mills in association with S.P.Narasimhalu Naidu, the multi faceted entrepreneur and social reformer. This happened in the year 1888.
C.Sadasivam Mudaliar began the first Joint Stock Company, Janopakara Bank in the year 1883 and it was a forerunner for many similar ventures. His son C.S.Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar (1886 – 1956) is known as the ‘Father of Modern Coimbatore’. W.V.Ramaswamy Chettiar (1830 – 1916) was responsible for Dravya Sahaya Nidhi and a number of other ventures. His grandson Dr.R.K.Shanmukham Chetty was a multi faceted entrepreneur who founded Vasantha Mills along with his brothers – Venkatachalam, Kandaswamy & Ramakrishnan. The other grandson R.K.Ramakrishnan was the founder of the iconic Central Studios in the year 1936. Diwan Bahadur P.Somasundaram Chettiar founded the first Indian textile mill, Kaleeswarar with the support of the Zamindar of Devakottai. Chennimalai Krishna Chetty was the top cotton merchant during the first quarter of the twentieth century. His wife had been the proud owner of the best diamond necklace in Coimbatore those days.
Rao Bahadur A.T.Thiruvengadasami Mudaliar (1855 – 1923) and his sons A.T.Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar, A.T.Krishnaswamy Mudaliar (1890 – 1961) and A.T.Devaraja Mudaliar (1891 – 1958) established a number of ventures which included sugar mills, trading houses and spinning mills. V.S.Sengottiah was another entrepreneur who did cotton business and he founded Sharadha Mills in Kurichi. The sons of P.S.Govindaswamy Naidu – Venkataswamy Naidu, Rangaswamy Naidu, Ganga Naidu and Narayanaswamy Naidu were amazing entrepreneurs who made a huge fortune and gave away a fifth for charity. Their Sri Ranga Vilas Mills was the first mill in Peelamedu. This was followed by Radhakrishna Mills which had V.Abbay Naidu, V.Rangaswamy Naidu, V.Gopal Naidu and the Appinaickenpatti family (Rosebed A.G.Guruswamy Naidu) as partners besides SNR Chinnasamy and brothers. Later on R.Venkatswamy Naidu created history by building huge ventures like Madras Aluminium Company at Mettur and a number of mills. His younger brother P.R.Ramakrishnan was the Editor of the media powerhouse ‘Nava India’. Rao Bahadur V.Gopal Naidu and his sons Purushottaman, Krishnan and Sam were behind a huge number of textile ventures while Kalyani & Co was into cotton biz and Kikani Exports into cotton yarn.
G.D.Naidu was the father of motor transport among other things. G.Kuppuswamy Naidu founded the Lakshmi Mills in the year 1910. His son and Statesman Entrepreneur G.K.Devarajulu was the first Coimbatorean to do a world business trip with Sir M.Visweswarrayya after the Second World War. He created a number of sterling ventures which were built to last. G.R.Govindarajulu, G.Ramaswamy, G.V.Doraiswamy Naidu of the P.S.G Family were successful entrepreneurs. L.R.G.Naidu and his sons – Balakrishnan, Varadaraj, Ramamurthy and Nithyanandam were known for Corporate Governance. V.N.Ramachandran and N.Damodaran of the Premier Group created the modern approach for textiles.
Verivada Chettiar was a great textile merchant and he made a huge fortune. S.R.P.Ponnuswamy Chettiar was the entrepreneur who had got six of sons educated abroad. S.Bheemiah Chettiar was another textile leader and was in the All India Weavers Association. K.S.Veerannah Chettiar of VEECO Sarees brought in branded sarees. Textool Balasundaram created the first textile machinery business in our country and was responsible for large scale industrialization which resulted in employment for a huge number of people. V.C.Vellingiri Gounder family founded the Gnanambigai Mills. T.A.Ramalingam Chettair created Cooperative entrepreneurship in a big way. T.S.Somasundaram Chettiar was responsible for a number of big banks to come to the city for it was badly in need of capital.
P.S.G.Rangaswamy Naidu integrated the work of the agricultural college with the P.S.G farms and the P.S.G.Industrial Institute. P.S.G.Ganga supported a number of ventures. Nejedley of Praga Buttons (a Czech Entrepreneur who flourished in Coimbatore) was well known to him. B.Rangaswamy Naidu of Rajalakshmi Mills was a maverick entrepreneur. G.K.Sundaram of Lakshmi Mills was famous for his business practices. Dr.N.Mahalingam was the sugar baron from this region. P.A.Raju Chettair, the jeweler cum industrialist was behind several ventures and he was responsible for putting Coimbatore on the jewellery map of the world. Lakshmi Grinders Krishnamurthy made the grinder commercial and many followed.
The motor & pump set industry was a big contribution of Coimbatore to the country. Narayanaswamy Naidu and his sons – S.N.Ramaswamy, S.N.Balakrishnan and N.Doraiswamy did much in this arena. P.S.G, G.D.Naidu, Textool Balasundaram, Subbiah Foundry, Texmo Ramaswamy, LPM, Sri Krishna Foundry, Southern Engineering were the pioneers responsible for the growth and development of this sector in Coimbatore. A number of private bankers from the Vurakkarai and Kulur families were responsible for incubating quite a few ventures. Asoka M.K.Krishna Chetty, the Founder of Asoka Betelnut Company helped people discover the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Quite a few bankers like Naraindas Gobindram were quite popular. Stanes Tea & Coffee was a hugely popular brand.
A number of retail ventures including Shobha Cloth Centre, IAB, K.S.Shetty & Co, N.Ramu Brothers (Elekricals), Radhakrishna & Co, Tharakaram Silk House, Sharadha Cloth Centre, Rajendra Textiles, Triplex, J.M.& Sons English Bakery, P.Ethiraj, A.Rangaswamy Chettiar, Fashions Silk House, Ramoo & Co, Mahaveers, Kirtilal Kalidas, Ideal Stores etc., added to the lustre of the city. The first movie millionaire of India Swamikannu Vincent built, Variety Hall in the year 1914 and it was the second oldest cinema hall in India. He had created a number of business establishments and theatres. Vincent became an iconic name. The movie Moghul S.M.Sriramulu Naidu built the Pakshiraja Studios in the year 1945 and set the trend for cinema in the South. Similarly Jupiter Pictures Somasundram and Moideen created film history.
The food & hospitality industry accompanied trade & industry in a big way. C.S.Govinda Iyer of C.S. grand Café, Bombay Anand Bhavan, Ranjitha Vilas, Seetharama Vilas, Ideal Lodge, Original Viswanatha Iyer, Sadasiva Iyer Coffee Club, Krishna Vilas, Royal Hindu restaurant (RHR), Guru Hotel, Alankar Hotel, Woodlands Hotel, Davey & Co, Ayyar & Co, Central Biriyani Hotel, Banglore Biriyani Hotel, Raj Bhavan, Hotel Guru, Irani hotel, Hotel Needos, Hotel Paragon (Gandhipuram) M.S.Manickam & Co, Annapoorna Gowri Sankar founded by K.Damodaraswamy Naidu & Brothers, Sri Krishna Sweets, founded by N.K.Mahadeva Iyer, Sampoorna, Angannan Biriyani Hotel, A1 Chips, Nellai Lala Sweets were the pioneers who excelled in entrepreneurship connected with food.
R.Gopalakrishnan of Gopal Camphors, B.K.R Perfumery in Agarbatti, Bombay Novelty Stores for luxury retail, Gokuldas Thulsidas who pioneered in cotton waste, the Kikani family, Tribhovandas Vendravan (trading firm), Ottajee, Kalyani & Co, S.T.Radhakrishna Chettiar (Silver Ware), Sri Rajeswari Hall, Rama & Co, D.C.Johar, Premier Paper Products, Industrial Engineering Stores, Koyas are among the many names which added to the entrepreneurship of Coimbatore. The list goes and there are many unsung heroes. Let us celebrate the Coimbatore Vizha by celebrating the Entrepreneurial zeal of the city.
TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), Coimbatore Chapter are celebrating the COIMBATORE VIZHA and the entrepreneurship of the city by holding an exposition which will contain the pictures and stories of the entrepreneurs who had contributed towards the development of Coimbatore.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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