Hunter Sounders, co-founder of the Kong Beer Bong, says this with pride as he positions his fellow business partner, Chase Snowden, on top of the Midway staircase. The idea, which he explains exuberantly and with his hands, is that Chase will toss a Natty Light from the top of the stairs, down to the patio, where Hunter will immediately crack the beer open to bong it with his product. All while co-founder and videographer, Tristan McIntire, captures the can’s journey on camera.
While Sounders–without missing a beat– starts explaining the product to interested bouncers sitting nearby, McIntire and I watch Snowden shake the Natty Light as much as possible before tossing it down to Sounders with a wicked smile on his face.
They may be co-founders of a new product, but these young businessmen are still early-20s bros at the end of the day, always having a little fun with everything they do. You may have already seen sponsored posts on your Instagram feed of their product, the Kong Beer Bong. It’s a modern can cooler that doubles as a beer bong with a simple click of the drinking tube at the bottom of the cup. The best part? It’s made by students here at Ohio State.
Snowden is the only one of the three still enrolled in classes, and he’s expected to graduate this December. For the other two, working on the Kong looks like a full-time job. I met with them the Friday that Ohio State beat Northwestern 52-3. Just like we expected, there was no better time or place to test and film the product in action than at Midway Block right before an Ohio State football game.
“The people here want to be recorded,” Snowden told me while Sounders was engrossed in conversation with an interested student sitting at the bar. He had seen their product on social and couldn’t believe they were about to let him be featured in their next promotional shot. According to Snowden, this is just how it goes. Everywhere you go, the Kong is a conversation-starter between students relaxing on a Friday night or letting loose at a Saturday party.
There’s an awareness between the owners that the product is one thing, but marketing it is another.
“We want to be a nationally recognized party brand,” Sounders explains later when we can take a break to sit down at Ethyl. “Where we’re at, the party’s at.”
Everything about their presence and social media suggests nothing less. McIntire’s camera shots are constantly in motion, never still and straight-on, just like how the product should be–constantly moving between one set of hands to another.
“We’re trying to establish ourselves as a party brand by making really good content, partnering with people like Midway, like Pink Whitney,” McIntire explains.
The three seem like a well-oiled dream team machine, filling in holes that just one or two of them couldn’t cover alone.
“We all bring something to the table,” Snowden shares. “[Tristan] is a fucking genius behind the camera, [Hunter] knows how to talk to literally anyone, and get anyone and everyone hype about anything that we’re ever doing, and then…”
Hunter finishes for him, “[Chase] is our, ‘Make sure shit is actually right’ dude. He makes muffins every morning,” he jokes with me. “He’s our muffin man.”
While I’m unsure about whether or not baking is actually a checklist item for Snowden everyday, I know he’s the one in charge of the finances, email, publicity, and basically all the loose ends that someone has to keep organized.
McIntire’s biggest piece of advice to undergraduates considering to push their own product on the market soon is to find the right team like he did.
“For us,” he admits, “I still feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, and that’s been a common theme since we started.”
Sounders agreed, sharing that the only thing that really matters is how open you are to opportunities as they come.
“When there’s something, we’re willing to do it. Like three weeks ago if you had asked us, ‘Are you going to be having a Midway party coming up?’ We wouldn’t have known that.”
Being on campus is a blessing for startups, especially because students still have university-funded resources and sage professors at their disposal.
“We prototyped this by doing 3D prints at Ohio State,” McIntire said. “Once we had something tangible, we were able to start going to professors who were able to give us advice. We wanted to make the mouthpiece out of steel at first, and one of our professors was like, ‘You guys are idiots, you are not making that out of steel.’ Obviously anyone who’s starting is not going to know what they’re doing, just be persistent and move in the same direction.”
The trio also stresses how important it is to keep your head up after experiencing that first year of lulls and lows when fundraising doesn’t go the way you expected, or you’re waiting on manufacturing that ends up taking months instead of weeks, and now you’re losing the whole purpose that got you started in the meantime.
“We’re not even successful yet, but even where we’re at now, there’s still lows like within the last five nights where you just feel deflated,” Sounders admits. “Somebody says something or something happens, but you just can’t let it get to you because you will get around it. Sometimes it comes the next day, sometimes it comes three, four weeks later and you’re like, ‘Fuck, why were even worried about that?’”
DOWN IT, QUICK!
If not funneling them, what’s the best way to unconventionally drink a beer in someone else’s front lawn?
T: Take a little sip-sip.
C: I’ve never done it myself, but goddamn I love when people bang that shit on their head and then drink it. That always gets me hype.
Have you ever broken drywall?
T: Never out of anger, no. Doing dumb things, yes.
H: Yeah. I broke drywall in Chittenden house, I broke drywall in East Lane house…
C: I mean, yeah.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done drunk?
T: I fell asleep in a shower.
H: One time I was jaywalking and an officer–I was kinda drunk– while he was figuring out what was going on he was like, “I’m just gonna put you in handcuffs,” and my pants fell down and he wouldn’t let me pull them back up. [Laughs] The cop thought it was awesome.
C: I was blacked out, it was on my 21st, and there was so much construction going on that I didn’t know where I was at. So I jumped the fence into the construction, got trapped, and then jumped back out onto High Street and was pretty much in the same spot that I was before.
Ready to purchase your first Kong Beer Bong? You can pre-order yours at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ kongbeerbong/kong-beer-bong-aportable-can-cooler-beer-bong. Give them a follow on Instagram @kongbeerbong to keep up with the party!