Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bing Bong Tables As A Business


Adam Wasserman, 25, left his job with a mortgage company and sank a big chunk of his savings into a Los Angeles warehouse where he builds portable beer-pong tables that start at $99 apiece. Many of his customers are recent graduates. "When you move into a new place, you need the basics: a TV, fridge and a beer-pong table," he says.

Juan Aycart, a 27-year-old South Orange, N.J., graphic designer, recently paid $150 for a portable beer-pong table from Bing Bong Inc. of Philadelphia. "I'm not invited to parties anymore, my beer-pong table is," says Mr. Aycart.

In 2005, brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Cos. sponsored tournaments across the country in a promotion called Bud Pong. But the company abandoned the game after media reports suggested it promoted binge drinking.

Stepping into the breach were Billy Gaines and Duncan Carroll, Carnegie Mellon University grads who in 2004 developed Web site bpong.com and a multiplayer online beer-pong game. Last year they played host to the first World Series of Beer Pong. "Those who dislike parties, pong, music, girls, trash-talking, and gambling need not apply," the tournament's official Web site says. The tournament this year attracted nearly 500 pongers to Mesquite, Nev., for a four-day tournament and $20,000 in prize money raised by charging $550 entry fees. Mr. Gaines, a 26-year-old Chicago lawyer, says he and Mr. Carroll, a 26-year-old graphic designer, haven't taken profits from the tournament yet. For now, they say they are building their brand by buying tables, balls and cups and reselling them emblazoned with their tournament logo.

The World Series and local leagues and tournaments have helped increase the market for beer-pong gear. Since Penn State University grads Tom Schmidt, 29, and Matt Brady, 30, started Bing Bong three years ago, they estimate they have sold more than 10,000 beer-pong tables. The 7- or 8-foot aluminum tables are collapsible, folding up into a briefcase. They say they expect $1 million in revenue this year. They sell to college students, recent grads and bars, which "are now accepting the game," Mr. Schmidt says, as something that increases sales.

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