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Beer pong isn’t just for spiky haired frat bros any longer. A game once left in the sticky floored rec rooms and halls of college, beer pong is making a resurgence in the bar scene thanks to a Chicago-based company bringing a whole new twist to the game.

C5 Beer Pong builds custom tables sporting a new design that features a half pipe-like skee ball shoot in the middle, a nicely lit triangle for racking the cups, and an emphasis on aesthetic design over the Milwaukee’s Best-coated folding tables you might be used to. These custom tables can run upwards of $500, but according to C5 founder Joseph Mollo, these are meant to be quality pieces of furniture, not just for an occasional game.

We sat down with Mollo, who shared the company’s mission to move the game away from the frat house, the ingredients behind an epic game of beer pong, and a few of his own secrets to making a great table.

What is the backstory behind C5 Beer Pong?

I’m a DePaul University graduate here in Chicago. I studied entrepreneurship. While I was in school I designed the beer pong table and it really started with that.

I kind of looked at what was out there on the market and you have these plastic fold-up tables or you have people playing on dining room tables and I saw this opportunity where there wasn’t a standard of beer pong. If you go around college campuses beer pong’s being played everywhere every single day, but you get to a certain age and there’s this drop off. I thought to myself, Why is it not socially acceptable to play beer pong anymore and what’s keeping the game from growing?

I have a woodworking past in furniture. It was kind of a culmination of all these factors and trying to design the best possible beer pong table that I could -- one that would be aesthetically pleasing, but also have some function to it.

The way the table’s designed there’s a new shot introduced to the game. Where you would conventionally shoot or bounce on our tables you can use the skee shot, where you throw the ball into one side of the curve and it will travel across the table and launch off like skee ball into the cups.

That was the function of it and also a conversation piece, something that was artistic, something that you wouldn’t want to fold up and shove into a closet or throw under a bed.




What’s the secret behind making a great beer pong table?

I think where a lot of people have missed is their focus on decals and logos. What we do is bring an artistic element to it, something that’s aesthetically pleasing, kind of the way you look at a pool table or a foosball table or a ping pong table, it’s all about the design and the function of the table and also how it compliments the room.

It’s a piece of furniture. We took it from a gag gift that you’d find at Spencer’s Gifts to something that you’re going to spend a little more money on because it’s a furniture piece -- it’s something that you’re going to want to keep out, it’s going to compliment the room, and it’s also going to bring new people to the game and bring a new dimension to the game.

If you haven’t been introduced to beer pong before or if you’ve been introduced to a different kind of beer pong in the past, our table takes the stigma out of the game and, I want to say, purifies it to more of a social entertainment, mainstay game versus the frat house shenanigans that people usually associate with it.

What has been your favorite custom table so far?

Most of our customizations revolve around colors. Where most things come together is the three tiers of color. We have the triangles that light up, that’s one color choice, and then powder legs would be another, and then the stain of the actual wood.

My favorite tables personally come from customers who want their tables stained a color, because it’s not very often that you’re going to find a purple or red or blue piece of wood, but we have the technology and the tools to achieve those colors in the wood. I think those are my favorite because those are what our customers respond well to.

It’s still a game for younger adults and young people so colors that pop and things that attract the eye work well. Our customers’ favorites are also my favorites, particularly red. We do red and blues and purples and we usually post all the pictures on our Facebook and our website. Those are where we get our greatest responses.

What are some of the key elements to creating an epic game of beer pong?

These days I don’t do as much playing as I do running tournaments and making them. The epic games of beer pong that I can recall in my past are just ones with close friends, where there’s just good, fun competition and where you go eye-for-eye into overtime.

I can remember games in college where we’d go into triple or quadruple overtime. It’s the type of games where you’re not so sorry that you lost, but you’re just happy to have been part of it and you can really have a good time and acknowledge the other players and things like that.

What’s one thing that anyone could do right now to take their current beer pong table to the next level?

They could start by buying one of ours. But as far as a regular beer pong table, I think one thing that people like are lights, keep the cups lit up. It kind of brings another aesthetic aspect to the game, where you can play in a darker setting and you don’t need the lights on.

It’s especially helpful in environments where beer pong’s being played, whether it be in a frat house or now we’re seeing, more and more, that they’re moving into bars. That’s exactly who we’re targeting. We’re trying to get these into bars and public places where people can see the tables, where you can still play on one even if you can’t necessarily afford one.

Definitely lights and definitely cleaned. I think cleanliness is something that we really push, not only on our tables, but if you’re going to be playing beer pong and if there is any growth for the game, it definitely has to do with cleanliness. It can get pretty rowdy, it can get kind of messy, but if you’re keeping it clean that’s good for the table and good for you.

What advice would you give to any entrepreneurs looking to turn their passion into a business?

Make something, make anything, and give it to someone. Don’t hold anything back, don’t keep anything to yourself. The sooner you get out there and the sooner you put a product or an idea in front of other people you’re going to learn quickly what works and what doesn’t work, what areas to improve on, and that’s going to be the quickest way.

What we’ve learned is the name of the game is to just keep moving, move as fast as you can, and there’s no other way to do it than to be talking to your customers.

What’s next for C5 Beer Pong?

This weekend we’re holding our first Chicago tournament. We really want to move into creating a buzz around our tables by creating a Chicago-based league. This Saturday at the Anthem on 1725 Divison Street; it’s from noon to five o’clock.

The next move for us is now that we’ve designed a table that we think the future of beer pong can rely on, we want to start building a brand and building a league and building some kind of following.

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