First Hour: As I settle into my seat, the plane begins its journey from Newark Liberty International Airport. The anticipation…
I once had the pleasure of meeting Naresh Nagrecha, the visionary co-founder of Rubicon Exotic Drinks. He left a lasting impact on the world of business and philanthropy. Born in 1950 in Kamuli, Uganda, to Jamnaben and Gordhandas Nagrecha, he faced significant life changes when his family was forced to leave Uganda in 1972 due to the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. He, by the way, is not our first client of Indian ethnicity who was forced to leave Uganda.
Moving to the UK, Nagrecha pursued his education with a master’s in food science from the University of Reading and later attended Wilson College in Mumbai, India.
Nagrecha’s career began at Schweppes, where he was inspired to start his own beverage business. In 1981, he co-founded Rubicon alongside his colleague Vish Vikera, focusing on exotic juice drinks. The brand’s initial product, Passionade, launched in 1982 and quickly gained popularity. Rubicon’s success continued with the introduction of Sparkling Mango Crush and other products, leading to impressive growth: from £300,000 turnover in 1982 to £28 million in 2006. This growth represented an annual rate of around 20% over 25 years, a remarkable feat in the competitive soft drinks market.
In August 2008, Rubicon Drinks was acquired by A.G. Barr, the Scottish soft drinks company known for Irn-Bru, for £59.8 million. By the time of the sale, Rubicon had become a prominent name in exotic juice drinks, available in major supermarkets and producing over 50 million liters per year, employing more than 100 people in the UK and Canada.
Beyond his entrepreneurial success, Nagrecha was also a dedicated philanthropist. He was a founding member of the Sunskruti Foundation UK, supporting various community and spiritual projects. His commitment to education led him to sponsor educational initiatives and schools, especially in India, at institutions like Sandipani Vidyaniketan, alongside his Guru Pujya Bhaishri.
Nagrecha’s family remembered him as a humble man who lived life to the fullest, with a motto of “simple living high thinking.” He was known for his good humor, caring nature, and the ability to cultivate close friendships worldwide. He passed away in 2023 at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy that extends beyond business to the many lives he touched through his philanthropy.
Naresh Nagrecha’s life story is a testament to resilience, innovation, and compassion. His journey from Uganda to the UK, his contributions to the beverage industry, and his philanthropic endeavors make for a compelling and inspiring biography.
He is survived by his wife, Veena, children Neel and Anjalee, and granddaughters Kareena, Aaraya, and Sansara