The Man Behind the 5-Hour Energy Drink Has $4B and Wants to Save the World

Manoj Bhargava, the man who created the 5-hour Energy drink, has too much money.

And that’s not just our opinion of a man who’s established a $4 billion net worth by creating a product that packs the effects of freebasing espresso into a 57 mL dose – he’s even admitted it himself.

Now, having already waged a war against global fatigue, Bhargava is committing his fortune to solving some of the world’s biggest problems.

“If you have wealth, it’s a duty to help those who don’t,” says Bhargava, a Princeton dropout who was born in India and now lives in Michigan. “Make a difference in people’s lives; don’t just talk about it.”

To do that, he’s established a stage 2 investment fund to “accelerate the large-scale commercialization of innovative, patentable technologies in the global market.” Recognizing that “awareness” – society’s participation trophy – doesn’t reduce pollution or grow food, his initiative is focused on clean energy, pure water, and advanced medical technology.

On top of solving heart failure and climate change on the side, Bhargava’s currently focused on one product in particular that, in his opinion, will affect billions of people: a Free Electric bike that can power a day’s worth of lights and basic appliance use with just an hour of pedaling. Pedaling the bike turns a turbine generator that creates electricity, which is then stored in a battery.

“It’s so simple that we think we can make it for $100… A bicycle repairman anywhere can fix it,” says Bhargava. As a consumer bonus, bicycle repairmen are also much cheaper than electricians.

Photo: Paul Sheppard/Nat Geo

He will test 50 of the bikes in 15-20 villages in northern India in the coming months before hopefully rolling out 10,000 of them early next year. His plan is especially promising in his native land because there’s immediate potential to impact rural communities, which are much slower to benefit from the economic achievements of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A successful beta phase of the Free Electric bikes in India would be enormously promising for the entire developing world, where poverty is heavily skewed towards non-urban populations.

Bhargava jokes that he thinks people will kill him for disrupting geopolitics with his grand ideas – helping mankind, after all, usually comes at the expense of profit. He’s basically Bizarro Donald Trump.