Chaleo Yoovidhya, the self-made Thai billionaire founded T.C. Pharmaceuticals. In the 1970s, it formulated an energy drink prototype called Krathing Daeng, or Red Bull in English. It was popular among Thai truck drivers and laborers.
Chaleo then co-founded a company in 1984 with an Austrian partner who helped turn Red Bull into a global brand. Red Bull took many marketing and ingredient ideas from an energy drink in Thailand called Krating Daeng. Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur, developed the Red Bull Energy Drink brand. Mateschitz was the international marketing director for Blendax, a toothpaste company, when he visited Thailand in 1982 and discovered that Krating Daeng helped to cure his jet lag. Between 1984 and 1987, Mateschitz worked with TCBG Pharmaceutical (a Blendax licensee) to adapt Krating Daeng for the European market.
At the same time Mateschitz and Chaleo Yoovidhya founded Red Bull GmbH; each investing $500,000 of savings and taking a stake in the new company. Chaleo and Dietrich each held a 49% share of the new company. They gave the remaining 2% to Chaleo's son Chalerm, but it was agreed that Mateschitz would run the company. The product was launched in 1987 in Austria, in a carbonated format.
In 1989, the product was expanded to its first international markets, Hungary and Slovenia. It entered the United States market (via California) in 1997 and the Middle East in 2000. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed both Chaleo and Mateschitz as being the 260th richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of $5.0 billion.