Manoj Bhargava

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Manoj Bhargava
Manoj Bhargava, Founder, 5-hour ENERGY.jpg
Born 1953 (age 61–62)
Lucknow, India
Citizenship United States
Education Princeton University (one year)
Occupation Entrepreneur philanthropist
Known for Founder, 5-Hour Energy
Net worth USD $4 billion

Manoj Bhargava (born 1953) is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder and CEO of 5-hour Energy, the company which markets the energy shot.[1] He was born in Lucknow, India, and moved to the United States in 1967 at the age of 14.[2] Crain's Detroit Business awarded Bhargava its "Newsmaker of the Year 2011".[3] and he was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012.[4] In 2012 Forbes reported his net worth to be around $4 billion, possibly making him the wealthiest Indian in America.[5][6]

Bhargava explained the origins of 5-hour Energy and his business philosophy during his keynote speech at TIECon 2013.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Bhargava graduated from The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1972. He went on to attend Princeton University for one year.[8] After that, he went back to India, where he lived in an ashram as a monk for 12 years.[9]


Early in his life, Bhargava worked at a variety of jobs, including construction laborer, construction cleaning contractor, accounting clerk, taxi driver, printing press operator and business manager.[3] He returned to the United States permanently in the early 1990s and took over his family’s plastics company, Prime PVC Inc., later called Prime Conduit, which he grew to $20 million in sales and then sold to a private equity firm in 2007.[10]

Afterwards he started a consumer products company, Living Essentials.[11] In 2004, the company developed the product "5-Hour Energy", which has become a well-known brand in the energy drink market.[12][13] Bhargava's stake in Living Essentials is valued at over $3 billion.

His businesses include Living Essentials (maker of 5-Hour Energy), Senterra Water (desalination and water purification), ETC Capital (an investment company), Oakland Energy & Water Ventures (an investment company), Stage 2 Innovations[14] (products for fuel efficiency that invests in Michigan tech),[15] MicroDose Life Sciences (medical devices),[16][17] and US Rail (railroad and freight terminal operations).

5-Hour Energy[edit]

5-Hour Energy was introduced to the marketplace in 2004. Retail sales grew to over $1 billion by 2011. Forbes reports that the research firm Symphony IRI believes 5-Hour to hold 90% of the energy shot market. Bhargava's innovation was creating a blend of vitamins and amino acids that was safe and effective for those who felt tired. His other innovation included the 2 oz. packaging, pointing out that people who needed energy were not necessarily also thirsty enough for an 8-ounce drink. The smaller-size packaging allowed retailers to place the product near checkout counters and at easy point-of-sale locations. The product contains functional nutrients, such as B vitamins and amino acids. Production and distribution are handled inside the company itself, in a million-square-foot facility located in Wabash, Indiana.[18]


Bhargava's foundations include Knowledge Medical Charitable Trust and Rural India Charitable Trust. The charities have funded medical research in the United States and over 400 charities in India.[19] Two of the major initiatives are hospitals for the poor and education for disadvantaged women in rural areas.[20]

The Hans Foundation is solely supported by the Rural India Charitable Trust, and in five years it has given 300 crore rupee (approximately $48.1 million U.S.). In November 2014, Bhargava committed 500 crore rupee (approximately $80.2 million) to develop villages in Uttarakhand, India. [21] In September 2012, Bhargava joined The Giving Pledge. He has pledged 90% of his wealth to charity, with an emphasis on a common sense approach to philanthropy. Instead of simply giving money, Bhargava believes that personal involvement is necessary. [22][23] Bhargava was interviewed on the ABC News show Nightline in September 2012.[24]


The Center for Public Integrity dubbed him the "political kingmaker nobody knows" after finding out that "he makes donations through several of his more than 70 limited liability companies". Michigan politicians have said that Bhargava has never tried to influence a piece of legislation nor has he asked for anything in return for the donations.[25]

Companies affiliated with 5-hour Energy—mainly ETC Capital—have "given at least $5.3 million to help elect state-level candidates since 2009". Political donations by companies with 5-hour Energy affiliations increased, while 33 states announced that they would investigate the company. They donated more than $1.2 million to state attorneys general and their political campaigns. In 2014 ETC Capital donated $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association, which seeks to elect Republican governors, but Bhargava has also given more than $310,000 to Democrats. [25]

A New York Times article that highlighted 5-hour Energy's lobbying to influence states attorneys general cited a press release put out by 5-hour Energy where Bhargava used the word "ransom" to describe the attorneys general soliciting the company for money. In the statement, Bhargava says that he's not going to take money he's pledged to the poor and give it to the attorney general. [26]


  1. ^ Duggan, Daniel; Dustin Walsh (30 May – 5 June 2011). "Energy Drink King Behind $100M Fund". Crain's Detroit Business 27 (22). 
  2. ^ Ajmani, Virender (11 February 2012). "From Lucknow, India, to Farmington Hills, Michigan". Michigan Indian Community Blog. 
  3. ^ a b "Newsmakers of the Year 2011". Crains Detroit Business. January 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ Kelly, Ryan (June 18, 2012). "5-Hour Energy creator Manoj Bhargava named overall winner of Entrepreneur of the Year". Crain's Detroit Business. 
  5. ^ Haiken, Melanie (November 15, 2012). "Can Energy Drinks Kill, Reprise?". Forbes. 
  6. ^ O'Connor, Clare (February 27, 2012). "The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy". Forbes Magazine. 
  7. ^ [1],
  8. ^ Duggan, Daniel (19 February 2012). "Wizard of odds". Crains Detroit. 
  9. ^ "Profile". Forbes. 
  10. ^ Frank Esposito (June 4, 2007). "Spell purchases Prime PVC". Plastics News. 
  11. ^ "Prime Conduit". 
  12. ^ Murphy, Eamon (9 February 2012). "5-Hour Energy: A Success Equal Parts Caffeine, Chemistry and Meditation". DailyFinance. 
  13. ^ Jennifer Zegler (August 1, 2011). "Focus on Function: 5-Hour Energy maintains dominance in energy shots". Beverage Industry. pp. 36–39. 
  14. ^ Rechtin, Mark. "Manoj Bhargava partner, former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda named CEO of Fisker Automotive". Crain News Service. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Brennan, Mike (15 June 2011). "Private fund has $100 million to invest in Michigan tech". The Center for Michigan. 
  16. ^ Gormley, Brian (May 19, 2010). "With Tempting Idea For Start-Ups, MicroDose Makes First Two Deals". Wall Street Journal. 
  17. ^ "Ex-Pfizer staff notch start-up hits with MicroDose Life Sciences". Concentrate: Issue Media Group. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Walsh, Tom. "Manoj Bhargava tells the story of the phenomenal growth of his 5-Hour Energy drink". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Manoj Bhargava, richest Indian in US commits 90% earnings to charity". The Economic Times. 10 April 2012. 
  20. ^ O'Connor, Clare (February 8, 2012). "The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy". Forbes. 
  21. ^ "The Hans Foundation". Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Saumya Bhattacharya (November 11, 2014). "Philanthropists in the world not thinking through what people need: Manoj Bhargava". The Economic Times. 
  23. ^ "Manoj Bhargava". Glasspockets. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  24. ^ Johnson, Eric. "5-Hour Energy Inventor Likes 'Toiling in Obscurity'". ABC. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  25. ^ a b Ben Wieder (March 26, 2015). "The political kingmaker nobody knows". Center for Public Integrity. 
  26. ^ Eric Lipton (October 28, 2014). "Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General". New York Times. 

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