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. â€œFor the next six or seven hours I was in great shape,â€ he says. â€œI thought, Wow, this is amazing. I can sell this.â€
Right away, though, he knew 16 ounces wouldnâ€™t sell. He didnâ€™t want to compete with Red Bull, at the time new to the market. Nor did he want to share fridge space with Coke or Pepsi. â€œI thought, If Iâ€™m tired, am I also thirsty? Is that like having a headache and a stomachache? It didnâ€™t make any sense.â€ He glanced at the ingredients label and made a mental note. Six months later his version was on the shelves, two ounces of Âcaffeine-infused B vitamins such as niacin mixed with acids like taurine.
Bhargavaâ€™s team still had to convince stores and buyers alike that their product was safe. The initial job of getting 5-Hour Energy on the shelves went to Rise Meguiar, Living Essentialsâ€™ vice president of sales and the only woman on a team of 17. Health chain GNC was the first to bite, agreeing to stock 5-Hour in 1,200 of its stores in 2004. Slowly but surely, Walgreens, Rite Aid and regional chains like Sheetz followed.