It turns out the mastermind behind the $3 cough syrup craze 5-Hour Energy is a 58-year-old Indian-born monk who takes a shot of the chalky drink every morning. In the latest issue of Forbes, Clare O'Connor offers the first press interview with Manoj Bhargava, a man who turned a two-ounce elixir of caffeine and vitamins into a beverage giant with $1 billion in retail sales. He's a bit of a boaster, telling O'Connor he's "killing it" and comparing his teenage math skills to Matt Damon's prodigy character in Good Will Hunting. But who can blame him as he's managed to convince a generation of truckers and amateur athletes to guzzle his bad-tasting energy drink? Apparently, some of his company's success is due to litigation:
The reason Bhargava has won is that he plays tough. Sitting in that cemetery are a dozen or so neon copycats with names like 6-Hour Power and 8-Hour Energy. Each has been sued, bullied or kicked off the market by Living Essentials’ lawyers. In front of each are little placards with a skull and crossbones drawn in felt-tip pen. Bhargava points at the gravestone of one of his late competitors and says with a chuckle, “Rest in peace.”
In any event, Bhargava's rags-to-riches story beginning in West Philadelphia in the late '60s is well-worth the full read. The whole Forbes profile is here.