Milford man designs bowl for popular drinking game

Fingaz Bowl CEO Julien Debelle Duplan of Milford, Conn., holds up the bowl he invented for the drinking game Fingers.

It’s a quick countdown for this drinking game: three, two, one, and then fingers come off the bowl, or they don’t, and the guesser who doesn’t guess the right number of fingers still on the bowl has to drink.

The game is called Fingers, and Milford resident Julien Debelle Duplan, 25, thought the game was such a winner when he stumbled across it in college that he invented a special bowl for it.

It’s called the Fingaz Bowl, and a Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to kick off sales June 17.

The bowl has 10 slots, which players rest their fingers in, a shot glass holder in the middle for that extra kick, and a spout for easy drinking.

“Each player puts one finger on the rim of the bowl on the finger notch,” according to directions at fingazbowl.com, where the bowls are listed for $24.99. “Next, the player that starts begins a countdown of ‘3,2,1.’ When the player gets to 1 each person must leave their finger on the notch or remove it (this must happen quickly). The player doing the countdown must say a fourth number after his 3,2,1 countdown. This fourth number will be the number of fingers that player believes will be on the bowl at the end of the countdown.”

Duplan would seem to be a more serious soul, not one expected to dabble in drinking game entrepreneurship. He’s known locally for taking part in an annual three-day bike ride called the Tri-State Trek to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s disease research, though this year he won’t be doing the ride because of the timing of his product launch.

He describes himself as serious and professional, but certainly social.

“I learned the game my senior year in college,” Duplan said. “I went to Sacred Heart. And it started just playing with a few of my roommates and then we were playing at parties and people were waiting in line to play.”

“People love this game,” he added.

There was no designated receptacle for the game, so the players relied on pitchers, plastic cups and bowls.

He was a senior in college in 2016 when he came up with the idea for a bowl specifically designed for Fingers, hence Fingaz Bowl.

“It came to me because we’d go out after playing and we’d all have stains on our shirts because of drinking out of a rounded bowl, and I thought why not just make a bowl for any drinking game and put a spout on it,” Duplan said.

“The game is pretty popular,” he said. “It’s a very social game. It’s very quick,and it involves a lot of people. And you can play in other languages. There’s no cultural barrier there.”

He got his first job right out of college for a data company after earning a bachelor’s degree in business, so he didn’t start seriously working on his invention until March of 2017.

He started with a big bowl and took a lot of measurements. After some revisions, he had an engineering design made and then printed his first model on a 3D printer.

Duplan and two silent partners will work with a manufacturing company in New Milford to produce the bowl. He’s also partnered with a company called Bierstick, based in Chicago, to tap into their experience with the market he hopes to target.

Duplan plans to make 1,000 bowls to start, and with the Kickstarter publicity and blasting on social media, he hopes sales take off.

Eventually, he may consider taking his invention to Shark Tank, the ABC show that gives inventors a chance to pitch their ideas and secure business deals.

“Usually, you’re better off going with sales,” Duplan said.

Duplan, who grew up in Stratford and now lives in Milford, doesn’t have anything else in the works right now, but he hopes this is the first of a line of inventions.

“I’m constantly writing down ideas,” Duplan said.

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