Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
post

The mystery monk making billions with 5-Hour Energy shots

His company, Living Essentials, is the biggest player by far in the ­energy-shot market, and not because 5-Hour is so delicious. Chalky cough syrup is more like it. The reason Bhargava has won is that he plays tough. Neon copycats with names like 6-Hour Power and 8-Hour Energy have been sued, bullied or kicked off the market by Living Essentials’ lawyers. 

The privately held Living Essentials doesn’t report revenue or profits, but a source with knowledge of its financials says the company grossed north of $600 million last year on that $1 billion at retail. The source says the company netted about $300 million. Checkout scan data from research firm SymphonyIRI say that 5-Hour has 90% of the energy-shot market. Its closest competitor, NVE Pharmaceuticals’ Stacker brand, has just over 3%.

Yet Bhargava (left), 58, is so under the radar that he barely registers on web searches. His paper trail is thin, consisting primarily of more than 90 lawsuits. This is his first press interview.

“I’m killing it right now,” he says, adjusting a black zip-up cardigan from behind the table of a soulless conference room in a beige low-rise building in a suburban business park in Farmington Hills, Mich. “But you’ll Google me and find, like, some lawyer in Singapore.”

Vague and inscrutable is how ­Bhargava likes things. The names of 5-Hour’s parent company, Living Essentials LLC, and that company’s parent firm, Innovation Ventures, are purposely bland. “They were intended as placeholders, and they stuck,” he says, smiling.

Colleagues and acquaintances uniformly describe Bhargava as “humble,” and he seems proud of his frugal lifestyle: his ancient flip phone, his cheap office furniture, the modest two-story home he shares with his wife and 20-year-old son. Yet, over vegetarian lasagna at Antonio’s, his favourite strip-mall Italian joint off Detroit’s Twelve-Mile Road, Bhargava says, apropos of nothing: “I’m probably the wealthiest Indian in America.”

The rise of 5-Hour began in the spring of 2003, when Bhargava found himself at a natural products trade show in Anaheim, Calif. At one booth the sales reps peddled a 16-ounce concoction claiming to boost productivity for hours. Bhargava took a swig. “For the next six or seven hours I was in great shape,” he says. “I thought, Wow, this is amazing. I can sell this.”…..

Forbes: Read the full story here

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.