746
9 min 15 sec

Bartenders Turn Trivia Night Into $1.5 Million Business

From an initial investment of just $300, a pair of Cincinnati bartenders transform trivia night into a seven-figure franchise.
Events High Profit Low Startup Potential Service

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What It's About

Bartenders shake things up for your weekly trivia night.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Organization & Coordination
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Adam says a good host can make or break a trivia night. They put a lot of work into vetting who can take the mic and call themselves a Last Call Trivia Flex trivia host. It’s essential that they’re outgoing, confident, and able to read the room and make decisions accordingly.

Fun Fact

Here's some trivia for you!

1. What is the most common blood type? [ǝʌᴉʇᴉsod-∀ uǝɥʇ 'ǝʌᴉʇᴉsod-O]

2. Which animal is faster, a kangaroo or a zebra? [ooɹɐƃuɐʞ]

3. On which island was Napoleon exiled following his defeat at Waterloo? [uǝlǝH ˙ʇS]

Notes from Chris

Episode 746

There aren’t many people who can say they found their perfect business idea while drinking in a bar. But, for Cincinnati bartender Adam Johnston, that’s exactly what happened.

Way back in 2007, Adam and his buddy Drew Turner got into the habit of attending mid-week trivia nights in local bars around town. They loved the atmosphere, the questions, and the rivalry that came along with it.

But the more shows they attended, the more they felt they could do a better job. They saw a real opportunity to provide a more entertaining service than the already established companies in the area.

So, Adam roped in his quiz-partner-slash-co-host Drew to create their own version of the trivia night. They invested $300 in simple sound equipment—mainly speakers, a microphone, and cables to connect to Adam’s laptop—so they could effectively host the show. And, they curated challenging questions they could ask anybody who attended.

Adam and Drew knew having the equipment and a new formula wasn’t enough to get them any paid gigs at a bar, though. Despite having a large presence in the UK and Europe—if you’re from there, you might know them as a “Pub Quiz” instead—at the time, trivia nights were still fairly new to an American audience.

The pair knew if they were going to get any bookings, they needed bar owners to see the experience to understand the potential. So, they decided they would host an exhibition night.

If you’ve never attended a trivia night yourself, here’s a quick rundown. You compete as part of a team to answer questions posed by the host. Commonly these questions cover lots of topics, like sports, films, and music, but they can also be specialized, such as Star Wars Trivia or Harry Potter Night.

The questions are usually interspersed with music or conversations with the crowd, depending on the host. The team with the highest number of correct answers at the end wins, and often gets a prize, like a round of drinks at the bar or a small sum of cash.

As Adam and Drew’s popularity grew, they found themselves needing to scale their business and employ people to host nights they weren’t able to. Although they could split off and host nights independently, they couldn’t be in more than two places at once.

To help them scale their business, Adam and Drew founded a company called Last Call Trivia, and began to employ other hosts from the area. The pair would source venues, provide sound equipment and questions, and pay the hosts a flat fee per show, with the rest of the money earned from the event going back into the business to help it grow.

By their second year, they were able to go all-in. Adam had been working part-time sweeping floors in a movie theatre to pay some of the bills. But now, since starting up, Adam and Drew have built Last Call Trivia to a $1.5 million business operating in five states and hundreds of bars.

The Last Call Trivia team wants to empower more people to start a trivia night of their own. They’ve created a product, called Last Call Trivia Flex, which provides you with a show format and access to a database of 50,000 questions to build your nights around. All you need is a smartphone or laptop, and the confidence to hold a microphone!



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Last Call Trivia: Looking to shake things up yourself? Head on over to Adam and Drew's wesbite to learn more about what it would take to bring all-star trivia to your local pub!

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Change the world—it makes for good trivia!"
—Adam Johnston #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau