Meet Manoj Bhargava: The person who defeated Red Bull

Imagine if you had told your family and friends: “I’m going to put together this 2 oz. (approx. 57 mil) drink, and I’m going to make billions by selling it for $3 (yes you read it right-three dollars per bottle) next to the cash register of every gas station, convenience and grocery store in the country!” They would have likely thought that you lost your mind.

Yet that’s exactly what Manoj Bhargava did. Ever heard of him? Probably not. Yet, his company, Living Essentials, is the maker of now famous 5-Hour Energy, two-ounce drink that promises to keep you alert without crashing. In eight years, as per the recent story in Forbes magazine, it has gone from nowhere to $1 billion in retail sales. (Photo by Eric Eggley via

Why did I decide to share the above with you? Fair question. How much time do I have? Not much? Ok. Because of something Manoj said in the above-mentioned interview for Forbes. Here it is: “It’s the product. You can con people one time, but nobody pays $3 twice.

My 2¢:
The icing is not the cake, and the icing does not make the cake. Said differently, it’s true: your marketing is just the icing. Your product/service must be the cake. But when the two come together, you’ve got a package that’s hard to ignore.

P.S. One competitor Manoj beat was Red Bull Energy Shot, which folded last summer after two years of failing to dent 5-Hour’s market share.