That would be Nick Groves, creative director and founder of District Trivia, headquartered in Bethesda.
At District Trivia games, trivia buffs and amateurs alike can compete for one night, or vie for a spot in their biannual Tournament of Champions or their CSN Trivia Challenge with Comcast SportsNet, in which more than 30 teams compete for $1,000 or $5,000 in prize money, respectively.
Since starting the trivia company in October 2009, Groves has grown the business by constantly adapting the games and offering whatever “the next big thing” in bar trivia may be.
“The product we deliver is a living, breathing thing,” says Groves, who still hosts some of the trivia games in addition to helming the business. “The format we use today is not the format we used two years ago, or when we started.”
Some of the updates to the games include new scoring methods and bonus rounds of puzzles, picture, fill-in-the-blank and musical trivia.
Bars pay District Trivia to host the weekly trivia nights, and the company is also hired for private events. District Trivia also has a new division specializing in website and social-media management for host venues, and advertises on behalf of a variety of clients looking to reach District Trivia’s 21- to 50-year-old crowd.
“There are a lot of people who take trivia very seriously,” Groves says. “We are not those people. The goal is always to have fun.”
How he got the job
Groves’ trivia ambitions began, strangely enough, in the real estate industry. After working as a general contractor for years, Groves began selling houses. (He still keeps his license current.)
Looking to meet people and find new clients, he approached The Barking Dog bar (4723 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-654-0022) and asked to host a trivia night there.
They had about 25 people that first night, Groves says, but soon were averaging 100 people a night. Other bar owners took notice and the business was born.
Groves’ next step was simple: Master the D.C. trivia scene.
“I played trivia a lot the next month and a half,” he says. He studied how other bars were running their trivia nights and cooked up ways to do it better. Nowadays on the busiest nights, District Trivia events bring in 140 to 180 people per night.
Who would want this job
Running a trivia night is about more than printing off questions and reading them in a bar, Groves says. A fun trivia night requires a big crowd and an inventive spark.
A good host is a people person who is comfortable speaking in front of a crowd and is able to react spontaneously to a bar full of people, he says.
To run a trivia company you have to be willing to pound the pavement to find new clients — and roll with rejection from bars that aren’t interested.
Be ready to give up your evenings, if you don’t already spend them at a bar. District Trivia’s hosts work anywhere from one night a week to four or five. Since bar trivia is designed to draw crowds on slow nights, games are usually held Monday through Thursdays, and Sundays.
It probably should go without saying, but hosts have to be of age, too, which helps with one of the common job perks. “I haven’t paid for a drink in three years,” Groves says.
How you can get the job
District Trivia is always recruiting hosts, and has an extensive interview and training process, including shadowing a seasoned host and co-hosting before you fly solo. “The single most important thing we have is our hosts,” Groves says.
If you dream of starting your own company, Groves recommends starting in the trenches: “Work it. Do the job.”
Attend trivia, start hosting games and get really good at it, he says. “And when you’re ready to go, go,” Groves says. “Preferably in another city.”
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