The Indian Monk Who Sold 5-Hour Energy Drinks-And Is Counting In Billions
Can you see me? I am a camoflaged toast. There are a lot of wheat bread toasts around here. But there is one amongst us that stands out. Redbull and Powerhorse dominate the energy drink market across the world. Redbull gives you wings; but fails to hit the bullseye. Powerhorse lacks the horsepower, and has been left behind in the race. Who is then dominating the energy drink market? It is the ‘Energy shot’ market that is eating up the market for energy drinks. Living Essentials’ ‘Five hour energy drink’ has been ringing the cash registers in America. And the brand is owned by an Indian – Manoj Bhargava. Bhargava claims to be the richest Indian in America. His worth could be well above 1.3 billion dollars. His name never pops up in Google or Yahoo searches though. McDonald’s glorifies the name of its owner – McDonald. Or even Kentucky’s for that matter. But who exactly is this mystery man that Forbes has been talking about?
Friends and Colleagues describe Bhargava as “humble”. So where do you live? Where is your home? He lives in his head, he meditates. A man who is proud of his ancient flip phone, his modest home. He lives the life of a monk with his wife and a twenty-year-old-son. The pile of garbage, the clutter is increasing. The need to disconnect. Gradually. The need to shut. Bhargava meditates everyday for about an hour. Bhargava used to travel to monastries in his twenties and this became the dominant philosophy of his meditation.
Thirsty? Yes. Drink Coca-Cola. Tired? Yes. Drink Redbull. But he didn’t want to compete with Coca-Cola in a soft drink market dominated by other giants. He didn’t want to compete with Redbull or Powerhorse either. So he mixed it up. Something that would quench your thirst and serve as a energy drink. He fused Vitamin B with Taurine, and in six months his drink had captured all the major stores in America. Bhargava is a crazy man who works in his laboratory thinking about new ideas.
Bhargava ensured no other energy drink could compete with him in the market. A lot of 7-hours, 6-hoursenergy drinks cropped up in the market. But Bhargava filed lawsuits against them and now he dominates 90% of the energy shot market. The laws of Nature don’t hold up for him, energy can neither be created nor be destroyed doesn’t seem to hold true for him.
‘One of the major problems was to make people believe that this drink was safe. And also to get our drinks on the shelves.’ says Bhargava. Health chain GNC was the first to stock the five hour energy drink in 1200 of its stores. Other retail chains like Sheetz, Walmart and Walgreens followed suit. It wasn’t easy at all. Imagine a super-market with hundreds of products vying for attention. And a small shot-bottle grabs all the attention. Clearly, size doesn’t matter.
Bhargava was born in the city of Lucknow, UP. A place where his parents had everything. A huge villa surrounded by award-winning gardens and several servants. When his father decided to shift to America to finish his Ph.D from Wharton, his fortunes changed completely. They went from having servants in India to splitting one Coca-Cola into four as a treat.
In India, the energy shot market is basically non-existent. And it is an Indian who changed the energy drink market dynamics in America. A fact that is hardly known to anyone. Bhargava is now looking forward to investing in a tech venture fund. This fifty-eight year old man is retired even though his mind is completely at work. Of course, retirement is important. You can’t work for a lifetime. Even Rakhi Sawant will face sagging *ahem..mammary glands* and dropping popularity(even in the class 4 she is famous in). Even Rajat Sharma will face hairfall. For Bhargava this is retirement. He plays Tennis everyday; of course with two cans of his own creation. For the time being Bhargava will chill out and swim in a jellybean.