Chaleo Yoovidhya, Red Bull magnate, dies aged 89

Chaleo Yoovidhya, the inventor of the Red Bull energy drink, started his business career with a product for keeping his long-distance drivers awake

The creator of Red Bull, who became one of the world’s richest men thanks to the success of the fizzy, caffeine-laden drink, died yesterday [17th March, 2012] in Bangkok of natural causes. Chaleo Yoovidhya was 89.

His career acquired wings

Chaleo’s entrepreneurial career acquired wings and soared to success. In that respect it was symbolised in the subsequent cartoon-like advertising of his famous energy product, Red Bull.

Wired in

A source close to LWD talks of the significance of the product for her business associates: “Some of them seem wired into a diet of Red Bull, chocolate and coffee” she told LWD

Chaelo’s origins

The Thai billionaire came from poor origins in the northern province of Phichit, moving to Bangkok in search of work. Showing entrepreneurial flair, he found work as a salesman before starting his own pharmaceuticals company which appears to have drawn on Eastern and Western pharmaceutical knowledge.

Career outline

The Independent outlined his career:

One of his products was a tonic drink aimed at keeping factory workers and truck drivers awake through long shifts. Called Krating Daeng – Thai for Red Bull – the mixture of water, sugar, caffeine, taurine, inositol and B vitamins provided the inspiration for what is now the world’s biggest-selling energy drink.

The Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz discovered Krating Daeng on a sales trip to Asia in 1982. According to the company’s website, He tracked down Mr Yoovidhya and the two men became business partners, setting up the Red Bull company two years later in an attempt to take the Thai drink to an international market. In 1987, Red Bull was launched in Austria. Twenty-five years on, it is sold in more than 79 countries.

Thanks to the soaring sales of the drink, Mr Yoovidhya became the world’s 205th richest man, with a fortune of £5bn.
Showing no lack of energy himself, he married twice, and had 11 children, five from his first wife and six from his second. Today, [18th March 2012] Mr Yoovidhya’s family will start a week-long series of traditional Buddhist rites at a monastery west of Bangkok.

Entrepreneurial innovation

The trajectory of the innovation is a familiar one in stories of entrepreneurial success. The entrepreneur draws on local knowledge of market needs, and learns of the pharmaceutical properties of local products. He applies his knowhow to address a corporate need (keeping his truckers alert). He accepts the offer of an international partnership showing business flair.

It is not a trajectory that is easily replicated from the laboratories of the global pharmaceutical giants.


To for image of Mr Yoovidhya and local biographic knowledge.


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