- July 13, 2012 |
When you first lay your eyes on the Chippewa Five beer pong table, it’s hard to imagine it has anything in common with rickety folding tables that have come to dominate the game. This all-wood, handmade table is sculptural and dynamic, it glows with the anticipation of a new game, and it’s definitely not the kind of table you’d shove under a bed or into a closet. The creator of the table, Joseph Mollo, is a recent DePaul grad, along with business partner Daniel Manriquez.
As a college major in entrepreneurship with a background in woodworking, it seems Joseph was uniquely suited to launching a beer pong company—not to mention the fact that he comes from a family in the furniture industry. And yet, the table started off just for personal use. “I wanted to build something that would challenge myself and take the game to a new level,” says Joseph, “What started as an idea of having a cool beer pong table really turned into a business opportunity.” Their most recent press includes a piece in the RedEye, some love from Chicago Beer Geeks and Uncrate, inclusion in Thrillist’s Best of the Best Drinking Games, and many more…
a focus on form and function
“Conventionally, beer pong tables are flat, and they’re not aesthetically pleasing,” says Joseph, “I wanted to build one that I could keep in a home bar, and would really be the center of conversation.” According to Joseph, it’s that unique shape that can bring people to the game. Suddenly, the game is taken out of the dorm room and into homes and bars—bringing all sort of new people to the game.
By changing up the shape, Joseph created a design that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional: “It introduces a new shot to the game of beer pong—we call it the ‘skeet-shot.’ You can throw the ball into one part of the curve and it will roll across the table and launch off, kind of like skee-ball.” Take a look at the video below to see the “skeet-shot” in action:
who’s in the market for an $800 beer pong table?
“Initially, it was corporate offices that were buying them,” says Joseph. “We actually sold one to Facebook and Zynga—some big companies on the west coast have them. The tech culture is very into morale-building; they have their own corporate culture that a beer pong table speaks to.”
|Which brings us to sales here in Chicago: “Right now, I’m trying to get them into bars and establishments in Chicago, because it does have a high price tag ($799). Especially considering beer pong tables usually cost anywhere from free to $80.”You can see where a bar could probably wrap their head around such a purchase: attract people into your bar, keep them there for more time, and increase your beer sales. That being said, the focus is noton binge drinking, but more on the social and competitive element.« A Chippewa Five Table at Tavern On La Grange (via Chippewa Five on Facebook)|
But, don’t worry: they’re also available for home bars (and very elegant frat houses) through the company’s Etsy store, and they’re also planning on launching e-commerce. As far as different variations, they will customize color and stain for customers. “Homeowners are buying them and putting them in their bars, and they look really good next to a pool table,” says Joseph, “Or matching their bar, whether it be a cherry, oak, or natural finish.”
the story behind their name
“Chippewa Five is where I’m from,” says Joseph, who lives in Burr Ridge, “It’s where the product was first built and first used.” In fact, Chippewa Five was the name of Joseph’s Etsy store before the product was ever created, but once they launched, they decided to stick with it. “It’s not very conventional,” admits Joseph, “And it doesn’t do much to promote the products, but we like it.”
“Our strategy around Chicago is to get it in front of as many players and people who endorse beer pong as possible,” says Joseph, “And to get as much feedback as we can to go forward. We’re trying to find out as much as we can about our customers, how they feel about the product, where they feel the product should be, and the potential it has.” The best way to do that? Facebook. Like their page to stay in the loop on new restaurants and bars with Chippewa Five tables—and to put in your two cents.