If you’re like most Silicon Valley professionals you probably like to end a long week at work by blacking out and waking up on Mark Zuckerberg’s lawn with an empty bottle of Charles Shaw in one hand and a ripped-out tuft of hair belonging to an unidentified farm animal in the other. If so, Ali Spagnola had you in mind while creating the Shot Glass USB.
As the name implies, the $30 product is a shot glass with a removable USB that comes preloaded with the Power Hour drinking game. That’s 60 one-minute songs all about drinking written and performed by Ms. Spagnola herself.
While I don’t drink, most of the VentureBeat staff comes to work sloshed out of their minds under the guise of “birthday parties,” and I’m pretty sure our editor once fired a dueling pistol at an intern while inebriated. Naturally, VentureBeat had to sit down with Spagnola for an exclusive interview about what is sure to end up in all of our stockings at the company Christmas party this year.
VentureBeat: Can you start off by telling us about the process that went into making this product and, presumably, the years of research you put into it?
Ali Spagnola: Writing and recording the album along with developing the Shot Glass USB product took me about two years. My day job is actually working at a video game company [www.evilgeniusdesigns.com], where I’m an artist and I write our game music. Creating this album was right in the vein of my composition specialty because I was used to creating songs in a variety of different styles. When I’m writing for video games, I’m given a genre or an emotion I have to convey and then I write to fit in that style. This drinking game album was the same thing. I laid out what styles and what type of energy I wanted to create as the album went along, and then I composed the songs to fit that structure.
VentureBeat: Has this been a one-woman job all along?
Spagnola: This was my first time developing a product, so I had to figure it out as I went along. I did enlist the help of one other person, my friend from college, Sophia Berman, for the shape of the packaging. The rest of it I did myself, from the design of the product to the package graphics to my website coding. I had a lot of late nights going back and forth with my manufacturer, but it was really exciting to get the finished product.
VentureBeat: The Shot Glass USB officially went public about a year ago. What has the reception been like?
Spagnola: Since I started getting publicity, it’s been cool to see people’s activity on social networks around playing my game. I’ll get different groups of people tweeting me pictures from their parties or posting about what song number they’re on. It’s really cool to find out that my power-hour party is going on in so many different places, sometimes at the same time. I also have a texting number and a website where people can “drunk text” me while they’re playing, so that has been interesting.
VentureBeat: Is this what you always wanted to be when you grew up?
Spagnola: I joke in my promo video about proving to my family that I’m not a “crazy alcoholic that makes terrible life decisions.” But really, they’ve been pretty supportive throughout this development. My dad actually owns a beer distributor in my hometown, so you can see where I get it from! [Laughs] My mom is less happy about this whole thing, but she tries her best to seem positive. She’s a bit uncomfortable with the drinking aspect, and she makes it clear that she’d rather I focus on my nonalcoholic music. I actually have three albums that I released before this drinking game album. I’m hoping if this album and invention is a success, she’ll understand I’m not actually embarrassing myself but in fact I created something that people appreciate, brings them joy, and makes them want to share my music with others.
Any locals interested in seeing Spagnola perform her power-hour album live on stage can find her performing at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco tonight.
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