Founding a Company from Our Passion for Trivia

Written by:
Collin Waldoch
November 25, 2018

Hi! 👋 Collin here, co-founder of Water Cooler Trivia. When I was 20, I started my first “professional” job (I’d mowed lawns and worked in bagel shops before). The gig was an internship at a major consulting firm, and I was more intimidated than I wanted to admit, especially when it came to interacting with firm partners, wandering the office with decades of industry experience.

Quick aside...

Growing up, I was a huge trivia nerd. The third oldest of six hyper-competitive children, the daily 3:30pm Jeopardy airings frequently devolved into shouting matches as my siblings and I kept score of our own responses. I hosted pub trivia in college at a local dive bar. I even made it to the final audition stage of Jeopardy’s Teen Tournament and College Championship (but alas, no cigar).

Okay, back to that internship.

To try breaking the ice and meeting new folks around the office, I decided to share my passion for trivia. After getting the okay from the HR team on an office-wide email distribution list, I gathered 10 of my favorite trivia questions, threw them into a Google Form and sent the quiz around the office.

To my surprise, dozens of folks submitted responses within minutes. I stayed late that night (and each subsequent Monday) to grade everyone’s responses and create an awkwardly amateur photoshopping of Olympic podiums with my coworkers’ faces.

The quizzes were a smash hit.

The weekly winner was congratulated by strangers in the office, and I heard whispers around me about the “only bachelor President” or the “all-time winningest movie at the Oscars.” It made me feel like part of the team.

Fast forward to my next job, this time at a transportation technology company. I sent quizzes again. And trivia was a hit again. I realized there’s something universal about trivia and the conversations it starts. The camaraderie and conversation-starting appeal of pub trivia but without the 2-hour commitment. I wanted to bring these weekly conversation-starters to more offices. It was a perfectly low-maintenance team building game that helped build employee engagement in the workplace.

The perfect partner to help bring these quizzes to more people? My college pub trivia co-host, living just across the East River in New York. Almost *too* conveniently, his roommate was a software engineer itching for a new side project. Thus, Water Cooler Trivia was born.

“I had no idea our intern knew so many ABBA lyrics. Alicia is our office’s true Dancing Queen.” — Arthur, San Francisco

How does Water Cooler Trivia work?

1. Start a group

Choose a group name, invite your coworkers, and customize the trivia categories and difficulty. All in under 60 seconds.

2. Answer trivia

We’ll email you a weekly quiz to brighten your Monday. Submissions take less than 2 minutes, unless you’re stewing on that tip-of-the-tongue response.

3. Learn about your coworkers

Weekly winners and stats sent straight to your inbox. Dig deeper for category champs and your group’s all-time leaderboard.

What do people think so far?

First things first: companies of all shapes and sizes are loving Water Cooler Trivia as a weekly activity. 10-person video game startups, 100-person e-commerce platforms, 1,000+ person international strategy consulting firms. School district teachers. Staff at a church in Wisconsin. And we’ve heard three common threads when we ask these groups what they like about Water Cooler Trivia.

1. Mondays can be made better

Opening your digital inbox is an angsty way to start the week. Having a 10-question trivia quiz in there with a chance to show off your hidden knowledge simply makes the start of the week more enjoyable.

2. Meeting more coworkers is good

Half of users have gotten to know at least one coworker through a conversation sparked by weekly trivia. These conversations knock down organizational silos. Employees compare scores, and the stories behind their knowledge of US capitals (Montana? Helena) and pop stars (“Hot N Cold”? Katy Perry). Virtual team games for remote teams are a perfect way to get to know each other better.

3. Personalized categories make the quiz feel personal

Each company is unique and loves to choose personalized categories. Whether Microsoft Excel or Brands or NYC or Biotech, these tailored trivia categories have the highest weekly engagement and give offices the chance to compete and chat about the things most important to them.

It's Connecticut.

What’s next for Water Cooler Trivia?

12 months ago it was just an idea. Now there are dozens of companies receiving the weekly quizzes and thousands of quiz submissions each month. We’ll be using this blog to share updates, data deep dives, and more. Shoot [email protected] a note with any questions.