If you attended college in the past several decades — and you like to drink beer — chances are you’ve played beer pong. The rules are simple. Each player places a cup of beer on a ping pong table in front of him. If his opponent knocks the ball in his beer, he drinks.
One night in 2004, Matt Brady and Tom Schmidt were going to a party. Someone asked them to drag a heavy ping pong table over so they could play beer pong. Brady thought, “This is what this world needs: A beer pong table that’s portable.”
And so, eschewing less important matters like peace in the Middle East and a cure for cancer, the two went to work on the Bing Bong, the first portable table custom-made for beer pong. Portable and lightweight, the 8-foot table folds up to the size of a briefcase. It retails at $119. The 6.5-foot table is $69.
“Both Tom and I left our jobs and dove into personal debt with nothing but an idea,” Brady says. “Our first 500 tables were handmade. We had no real profit margin on the first 100. But instinctively it felt like an obvious winner.”
First, though, the two had to develop the market. So they got actively involved with their customer base, organizing tournaments, partnering with sponsors, instituting official rules, and sponsoring the $5,000 Bing Bong Spring Cup in Philadelphia. They even launched a line of apparel.
There are competitors, “weasels completely ripping off our design and infringing on our trademarks and copyrights,” Brady says, “but no competitors operating on as many cylinders as us.”
The challenge now is to push the game into the mainstream. “It has come a long way since we began this business,” Brady says. “There are now leagues all across the country.” The largest event was the World Series of Beer Pong 2 at the Oasis Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. Over 400 participants vied for a first-prize of $20,000.
In the meantime, Bing Bong continuous to widen its market reach with more events, new products lines, maybe even TV specials, Brady says. “Once we bump a few of the poker shows to make way for celebrity beer pong, watch out!” It sounds audacious. But it fits with the Bing Bong business philosophy: “Never get comfortable and always push forward — or someone else will.