Binghamton University students can spend this Friday night looking for a different kind of booty.
Two BU students released an interactive smartphone app that engages its users in an ongoing treasure hunt all over campus, Downtown and apartment complexes.
Scott Wisotsky and Shachar Avraham, a junior majoring in political science and a sophomore in the individualized major program, respectively, released Campus Pursuit on Jan. 27. They said they hope that their app will promote local businesses and connect them with students.
“We want to help with the rebirth of Binghamton. We know that Binghamton has the potential to be one of the best college towns in America,” Avraham said. “Businesses are trying to reach out to college students, and we want to help.”
Monday through Friday, Wisotsky and Avraham hide two to three prizes a day. Prizes range from gift cards, one-month passes to local gyms and vouchers to local businesses and restaurants. Once they download the app, users receive push notifications alerting them when prizes have been hidden. After watching a 10-second advertisement about the business that sponsored the prize, users can access the location of the prize. The first person to find the treasure wins the chance to experience some of Binghamton’s local businesses for free.
The app is compatible for iPhone and Android and is currently available on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store for free.
Wisotsky and Avraham came up with the idea for Campus Pursuit last semester and dedicated their entire winter break to developing the app.
“One day I was watching YouTube videos of a millionaire who just gave his money away to people on the streets, and I thought to myself, ‘It would be so cool if we could just give away stuff to people, like in a treasure hunt,’” Wisotsky said.
With over 300 users and 600 likes on Facebook, Wisotsky and Avraham hope that Campus Pursuit will enhance the social media presence for local businesses.
“Local businesses have a hard time telling students about all the great things Downtown,” Wisotsky said. “With our app, we can help local businesses spread the word about the great stuff they have to offer.”
Avraham said that he has had a rewarding experience interacting with local businesses.
“If we’re the reason why they’re getting more business, that would make me so happy,” Avraham said.
Local business owners, like Brian Nayor from the GasLamp Gym, are using the app as an opportunity to reach out to more of their target customers. Nayor heard about the app from other local business owners.
“Working with Campus Pursuit has definitely helped in getting the word out about my gym by promoting free gift certificates for their weekly scavenger hunts,” Nayor wrote in an email. “Not only does this open up the possibility of increased enrollment for my gym, but it keeps us on the students’ radar, which is most important of all.”
Jaimee Glinn, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, won a $15 gift certificate to Zona & Co. Grille that was hidden under the staircase at the Fine Arts section of the Glenn G. Bartle Library. She said she believes Campus Pursuit will encourage students to go beyond their comfort zone.
“There are so many great places that not a lot of people know about and people are more willing to try those places if they don’t have to spend their own money, so winning prizes through Campus Pursuit presents a great opportunity,” Glinn said.
Sean Levin, a sophomore majoring in economics, currently holds the record for most prizes found. He has won a pair of tickets to a Binghamton Senators game and gift certificates to Number 5 Restaurant and Binghamton Hots.
“It’s a great application for both students and businesses,” Levin said. “It allows students to visit and support local businesses that they otherwise couldn’t afford without such great deals.”
Although they have yet to turn a profit on the app, co-founders Wisotsky and Avraham believe in Campus Pursuit’s potential and hope to expand toward more college campuses across the nation.
“We plan on making money from it,” Avraham said. “We’re hoping to be affordable enough that it won’t even be a question for businesses to choose us than some other traditional advertising.”
Campus Pursuit is currently sponsored by eight different companies, including Zona, GasLamp Gym, Cafe Oasis and Down to Earth Whole Foods.
Wisotsky said that Campus Pursuit has been a gratifying experience so far.
“A lot of people find the prizes. I’ve never met them in my life before. I have no idea who they are. That’s kind of rewarding, you know, helping someone out that I’ve never met before,” Wisotsky said.
Wisotsky says that he hopes to set an example for other students who do not know what they are going to do with their majors in the professional world.
“I don’t think that any student at Binghamton should be confined just to do things based on their major,” Wisotsky said. “You should do things that interest you, don’t let your major hold you back.”