5-Hour Energy billionaire brings latest inventions to S’pore
SINGAPORE — Billionaire Manoj Bhargava, who made his fortune selling 5-Hour Energy drinks in gas stations and convenience stores across the US, is turning to Asia to commercialise his latest inventions in health, power and water.
Renew Group, the startup owned by Mr Bhargava and partner Ravinder Sajwan, will produce machines to make saltwater drinkable at a new US$120 million (S$169 million) plant in Singapore as well as massage bed-like devices aimed at enhancing blood circulation. Separately, in India, Mr Bhargava will begin in March to manufacture and distribute an electricity-generating bicycle for poor households that he plans to sell for as little as US$200.
His decision to move most inventions from his laboratory in suburban Detroit to Singapore reflects the city-state’s all-out efforts to attract global technology firms and build its own version of Silicon Valley. The 62-year-old began discussing the move with officials about three years ago and ultimately agreed because of their ability to get things done quickly.
“They had this facility built, up and running in eight weeks,” Mr Bhargava said, referring to the Singapore plant. “In India, it could take a year. In the U.S., we would be waiting for the fire marshal.”
The billionaire’s decision follows investments by other entrepreneurs in the city-state.
Mr Roger Egan, a former investment banker who hails from New Jersey, co-founded online grocer Redmart in Singapore. American entrepreneur Razmig Hovaghimian and his two Korean partners in Viki, the global TV streaming service with fan-translated subtitles, chose Singapore as its base in part for the proximity to key markets. Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten acquired Viki in 2013.
“The entrepreneurship ecosystem in Singapore is slowly and steadily growing towards a scenario which appears to be attracting entrepreneurs from outside,” said Mr Arcot Desai Narasimhalu, the director of Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University. “Such success stories will help position Singapore as an attractive eco-center for entrepreneurs.”
Mr Bhargava established Renew in 2013 and the business now has 35 employees with plans for an initial public offering in two to three years.