The 5-Hour Energy Empire

Forbes magazine recently published a bio of Manoj Bhargava, the mysterious figure behind 5-Hour Energy.

In its brief eight-year history, 5-Hour Energy has become a staple among truck drivers, college students, and even investment bankers. Those who swear by it come in every shape and size, but all share a common need: focus and energy without the crash of caffeine.  

Selling for around $3 a bottle, this two-ounce wonder potion certainly doesn’t come cheap. And the taste, like cough syrup but somehow chalky, won’t please many palates. But despite these obstacles, the product has garnered a devout following.

Much of this success is due to the ruthless management of Living Essentials, the company which manufacturers the sickly sweet elixir. Living Essentials is run by an elusive entrepreneur named Manoj Bhargava. Though 58 years old, there is suprisingly little information about his background. In fact, most of the available records on Bhargava deal not with him, but with the 90+ lawsuits he has filed against competitors.

If you’ve walked into a convenience store in the past few years, then you will have likely seen 5-Hour Energy, along with a host of other imitators (6, 7, 8-Hour Power, you get the idea). What you might not have noticed is that these imitators do not stay on the shelves. Bhargava, armed with the crafty lawyers at Living Essentials, has been able to achieve a market share of over 90% in the energy-shot business by suing, bullying, and in the end, crushing his competitors.

The rest of the article makes for an interesting read, something to think about the next time you unscrew the lid on one of those bright red bottles.

Thomas L. Hauch