“Beer pong” recently hit the mainstream, and is frequently featured in party, tailgate and even competition settings.
While many prefer to play on a regular table, many specially designed variations of the game have hit the market in the wake of its relatively recent popularity boom — from painted tables with specific markings and instructions, to blow-up rafts specially designed to hold cups in a pool.
And then there’s Point Pong.
Invented by New Jersey resident Kevin Brown, Point Pong combines all the positive characteristics of other commercial pong games. Instead of being one table, Point Pong features two triangular-shaped, height-adjustable tables that can be easily broken down for transport or to float in water.
Brown’s inspiration for developing Point Pong was a direct result of his then-college-aged daughter buying him a floating beer-pong raft.
“I was a contractor by trade [and] my daughter had bought me a blow up beer pong raft for the pool,” he says. “As a contractor, I thought, ‘There has to be a better way of doing this.’ If you wanted to take [the raft] somewhere, you had to let the air out and blow it up again. It came with patches, so it wasn’t going to last.”
The floating product inspired Brown’s business idea. “I started making different prototypes over the course of the following winter and came up with Point Pong,” Brown says. “I wanted to make something out of it besides beer pong that would be good for the whole family — [something] the kids could play without the alcohol part.”
Brown quickly realized that he could potentially tap into a larger market if his product was regarded as family friendly one. Indeed, Time to Play Magazine rated Point Pong for ages eight and above.
But where Brown, and so many other inventors, ran into difficulty was garnering interest with no tangible product or company. So he started KB Innovations and looked overseas to China for production.
Playing the Trade Show Game
After about a month in China, Brown had enough inventory of Point Pong to sell, Brown still lacked buyers and financing. He displayed the game at trade shows and has been met with a considerable amount of success ever since.
“We started going to trade shows with it and were very successful with that,” Brown says. “I was out at the National Hardware Show about three years ago and I won an award there for the best tailgating game, and this year (2015) I was out at the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, and won an award for best [non-licensed] tailgating product at the show.”
Besides award recognition, Point Pong has been picked up by several large distributors and retailers, which has been the key to his company’s success. “[Point Pong ois] now on Dick’s Sporting Goods’ website, Brookstone, Wayfair, Wal-Mart, Sears, etc.,” he says. I’m included on about 30 major websites.”
While retailers here and there have elected to carry the game, most of Point Pong’s sales have been amassed through online channels.
“[Point Pong] was picked up in Kroger out in Columbus, Ohio,” Brown says “They put them out for Ohio State football [tailgating]. I also have a pool company in Canada which has 17 different branches. They’ve purchased over the last two years [more than] 250 of them. I have it in some small sporting goods stores here in New Jersey.”
Small startups commonly have problems with getting the word exposure for their products. After all, no one can know even the greatest product in the world exists if the manufacturer lacks the resources to spread the word. Brown experienced this stateside, being shunned from prospective manufacturing partnerships.
“I ran into so many problems in the States that I had to go overseas to get [manufacturing] done,” he says. “And then, there’s the matter of getting the word out there. Luckily, because of the Internet, I was able to do that — we have over 6,200 likes on Facebook, so that’s a good following now.”
Brown continues to struggle with financing problems, but has seen enough success at trade shows to be encouraged.
“What I’d like to do is build a better marketing plan, raise some financing and implement it,” he says. “Right now, I’m just a one-man show and it’s kind of hard to implement it. But I think I have a ton of potential for all ages.”