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Playing to Win

Drew Restivo and Keith Kralik met in 2016 while playing volleyball at Cheeseman Park. They both had an appreciation for the outdoors, competitive sports and social get-togethers. While at dinner one night, they invented a new game. Throughout the years, Drew and his wife had collected over 200 wine corks. Drew’s son passed them out one night and told everyone to toss the corks back into a large glass cylinder. Everyone had a blast trying to throw their corks into that cylinder. This is how they came up with the idea of Corkaine. After a year and a half of revisions, they started selling their product on their website and on Amazon.

A Game That Gives Back

In February of 2016, Drew found out he had stage 1A melanoma. He caught it early and overcame cancer by having a large amount of skin removed from his shoulder. Unfortunately, Drew’s grandfather died the same year from an unchecked melanoma. Drew and Keith decided to donate a portion of every game that is sold to the Melanoma Research Foundation to help people become more aware of melanoma. Starting their own company means Drew and Keith also determine its values. One of the building blocks for that process is connecting with the community at Denver Startup Week.

Networking at the Physical Product Showcase

Drew and Keith participated in the IRL: Physical Product Showcase last year. The showcase focuses on early-stage products and how the makers achieved success. Drew and Keith setup Corkaine and let people have fun with it. People won additional tickets for the event’s Prize Drawing, where amazing physical products were given away. They plan to offer the same opportunities this year.

“We have people who usually don’t play games—they play our lawn game because it’s engaging. This is a game where you can sit down, stand up, or move around while you toss corks strategically into cups. It really is a game for everyone,” said Drew.

Among the many people Drew and Keith spoke with during the showcase, one of them took Corkaine to Thailand for a month to promote while on a video game tour. Another led to contacts within the wine industry. Yet another contact bought multiple game sets and offered his video production services for their upcoming 2019 Kickstarter campaign.

“There are all kinds of opportunities to help people and for people to help us. It can just take one person to propel business and you never know who you’ll meet,” said Keith.

Playing in the Big Leagues

Business is doing well for Drew and Keith. With success, the two founders have a new set of problems. Sales have begun to outpace production and they’re close to selling out their inventory. They increased the sale price from $99 to $119 while they figure out how to lower production costs. Drew and Keith are hustling to create new inventory.

There are also plans to sell the game overseas once they figure out inventory. A friend took the game to the Netherlands and people are loving it. The challenge is to decrease the box size and make it easier to ship.

“Denver Startup Week has a million resources for anyone starting a company. That is wonderful and the networking itself is amazing—just to be part of it,” said Keith.

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