Boston-Area Entrepreneurs and Innovators Take to the Streets in Mobile Scavenger Hunt

10/13/09

What would you think if I told you that a 20-year-old with an iPhone could turn hundreds of Boston’s sharpest entrepreneurs, business leaders, and students into human game pieces on a life-sized game board? Last Friday, that is exactly what happened as The Quest for Innovation put the spotlight on Boston’s history of entrepreneurship and innovation with a high-tech twist on the classic scavenger hunt.

The Quest, organized by Michael Gaiss of Highland Capital Partners and Seth Priebatsch of Boston-based startup Scvngr, brought together over 100 teams (and some 350-400 participants) from leading Boston-area startup companies, university entrepreneurship programs, industry organizations, and services firms for a mobile phone-enabled scavenger hunt through downtown Boston. The teams each had two key goals: raise funds for local non-profit organizations and entrepreneurship programs (the amount raised has not yet been announced) and secure the Boston technology scene’s ultimate bragging rights. Pulling the strings was the 20-year-old Priebatsch, “chief ninja” of Scvngr, which provided the technology behind the Quest. While the Quest was created using Scvngr’s Web-based game design platform, Priebatsch was able to kick-off and manage the event on site, right from his own mobile phone.

When I decided to assemble a team from my company, Westford, MA-based startup Virtual Computer, I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble finding volunteers. The Virtual Computer team is an extremely competitive bunch. Our office bulletin board is covered with everything from competitor trash talk to disputed scorecards from “friendly” mini-golf outings, and during our recurring trips to the F1 Boston race track it is not uncommon for at least one employee to put victory over career prospects by introducing a company executive to the track wall. Sure enough, within five minutes of sending out an e-mail about the Quest, I had my roster filled.

Seth_PriebatschThe organizers of the Quest were fairly tight lipped about how the event would work, so we arrived on Friday afternoon ready to quickly assess the game and develop a winning strategy on the fly. As the team “pilot,” I would be responsible for submitting our team’s answers to each challenge, so I downloaded the Scvngr iPhone application, hoping it would provide even the slightest advantage over the standard SMS text message method of game play. I used the application to officially register our team and then provided my team members with a special code that would allow them to see the game challenges and clues simultaneously as they were delivered to my phone. This way, we could “divide and conquer” as necessary.

As the game kicked off, the teams dispersed in various directions, with the Scvngr system starting the various teams with different clues to avoid a pileup at any given location. Our team quickly … Next Page »

Doug Lane is Senior Director of Product Management and Marketing at Virtual Computer, a Westford, MA-based provider of PC virtualization and management software. Follow @

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