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The founder of Cobra Beer was born in Hyderabad in 1961. He gained a commerce degree in India before coming to Britain to pick up more qualifications and become an energetic figure in British business.
Bilimoria became a chartered accountant, obtained a law degree at Cambridge and spent some years with the large accountancy firm Ernst & Young.
He developed the taste for business early. While playing polo as a Cambridge blue in India he thought of starting a polo stick business. There was a British ban on buying polo sticks from Argentina, so Bilimoria imported them from India. His customers included Harrods, Lillywhites and Giddens, the Royal Family’s saddlers.
The idea for a lager to accompany Indian food popped up because Bilimoria found English beer did not blend well with the cuisine of the sub-continent and existing lagers were too harsh and gassy.
Cobra is in 90% of the Indian restaurants in the country and there is now a General Bilimoria wine. Tandoori Magazine is another of Bilimoria’s enterprises – he is the founder and publishing director.
Outside the Cobra business Bilimoria’s activities seem full–time in themselves and are too many to list. He is a member of the government’s National Employment Panel and chairman of its small business board, and is co–chairman of the Indo–British Partnership.
He is a guest lecturer at Cranfield University School of Management, Cambridge University Business School and the London Business School.
As if all that is not enough, Bilimoria is on the advisory board of a trust that educates the children of poor widows in India and is patron of a mental illness charity.