I always find it fascinating reading about the Red Bull drink – since there is Thai folklore, rags to riches and just an incredible story of an unlikely product that makes a ton of money.
I think a can is made for like 5 cents and sells for many times that. The Thai family behind it is one of the richest in Asia and here you can read about the Austrian who made it all happen:
Little known outside of his native Austria, Dietrich Mateschitz is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our age, a man who single-handedly changed the landscape of the beverage industry by creating not just a new brand but a whole new category: the energy drink. As the visionary who brought the world Red Bull, affectionately known as “speed in a can” or even “liquid cocaine,” Mateschitz, 67, has been a patron saint for more than two decades to late-night partiers, exam-week undergrads, long-haul truckers, and, above all, extreme-sports athletes everywhere.
In return for his sickly sweet innovation, the world has made him very, very rich. Last year the privately held company, also named Red Bull, says it sold 4.2 billion cans of its drink, including more than a billion in the U.S. alone. That represents a 7.9 percent increase over the year before, and revenues jumped 15.8 percent to $5.175 billion. Mateschitz runs an efficient enterprise that has yet to trip on its rapid growth: At the end of 2004, he had just 2,605 employees; in 2010, Red Bull employed 7,758 people—which works out to more than $667,000 in revenue per person.
I am no language expert but pretty sure the name in Thai simply means “red bull“:
A chance trip to Thailand in 1982 would prove to be the turning point in Mateschitz’s life. Curious to know what attracted the locals to an uncarbonated “tonic” called Krating Daeng (Thai for “water buffalo”), he tried some himself and found that it instantly cured his jet lag. Not long after, while sitting in the bar at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, he read in a magazine that the top corporate taxpayer in Japan that year was a maker of such tonics. Suddenly, the idea hit him: he would sell the stuff in the West.
I also love how honest this guy is :
He’s close to some of Austria’s most prominent people, though Mateschitz says he doesn’t place a premium on collecting friends or socializing: “I don’t believe in 50 friends. I believe in a smaller number. Nor do I care about society events. It’s the most senseless use of time. When I do go out, from time to time, it’s just to convince myself again that I’m not missing a lot.” On those rare occasions, however, he invariably arrives with an attractive woman on his arm. “It’s just that I’m not old and wise enough to be married yet,” he says. “But is it necessary that you write about this?”
Despite the fact that he’s approaching 70, Mateschitz maintains quite a clip. He still moves like an athlete, rides horses, pilots planes, and last year competed in an off-road motorcycle race. He has, however, installed a board of directors at Red Bull to work on broader strategic issues. Red Bull now has hundreds of competitors (the latest entrant: Tiger Blood energy potion, an homage to Charlie Sheen). For a time, there were rumors that Coca-Cola had offered to buy the company, but those have died down. Mateschitz has long insisted that he has no plans to sell or take Red Bull public. “It’s not a question of money,” he says. “It’s a question of fun. Not only that, can you imagine me in a shareholders’ meeting?”