5-Hour Energy has been a gigantic success, creating its own niche of energy drinks that has inspired a plethora of copycats. It now has a dominant 90 per cent market share in the energy shot industry, with no serious competitors in sight.
Even mighty Red Bull, the king of the energy drink market, couldn’t unseat it. It admitted defeat and pulled the plug on Red Bull Energy Shots after just two years.
Its meteoric rise is impressive, but what’s most intriguing about 5-Hour Energy is the man behind it.
Manoj Bhargava owns Living Essentials, the privately-held company that owns the 5-Hour Energy brand. He’s quite secretive, rarely speaking in public or flaunting his name. Even the Living Essentials name is purposely generic and easily forgettable.
Forbes’ Clare O’Connor convinced Bhargava to sit down for his first interview with the press, and she has written a fascinating profile of him.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Born in India, his family came to America in the late 1960s. They went from having servants in their villa to living in an $80-per-month apartment in West Philadelphia.
- He’s insanely good at maths, likening himself to Matt Damon’s genius character in Good Will Hunting. His skills got him into Princeton, but he dropped out after a year because he hated the culture and the maths classes were too easy.
- Starting in his 20s, Bhargava spent 12 years on a spiritual quest, travelling between monasteries. He still spends an hour a day in meditation now.
- He got the idea for 5-Hour Energy when he tried a product at a natural products trade show. He made a mental note of the ingredients list, and then changed the size so that he wouldn’t have to compete directly with Red Bull.
- Yes, he uses his own product. Bhargava drinks one every morning, and one before he plays tennis.
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