Article from Daily Herald - Provo company launches mobile treasure map app

Article originally posted here.

The minds behind Provo’s Treasure Canyon — home of this spring and summer’s mountain hunts for cash and prizes — have a new way to find some pirate booty.

They’ve created an app, called Seek, which allows anyone to look for cash and prizes anywhere — even in their own neighborhood. The app, which launched Wednesday on Google Play and the App Store, is free for users, and encourages them to get outside. Once there, they can open the app, and nearby treasure chests pop up for them to find.

In keeping with co-founder Jon Cheney’s vision of getting people up and active, treasure chests that are in the mountains that dot Utah’s canyons, along a walking trail, or within a park have more valuable prizes than those that are just down the street.

“We’re trying to drive people to get up and go somewhere,” he said.

But that’s not to say the ones closer to home are cheap. Multiple businesses have signed up to give out deals on the app that are only accessible by Seek users.

“Swig paid us to drop treasure right outside their locations. So you have to go to a Swig location to win it. Treasures include a drink upgrade, a free cookie, etc.,” Cheney said. “For users, it’s free, fun activity. You’re getting out and getting money or prizes. For advertisers, it’s a fun and engaging way to reach buyers that isn’t intrusive.”

To explain the concept, it’s a bit like "Pokemon Go" and McDonald’s "Monopoly" meets geocaching. All of the retailer and service providers who pay to be on Seek offer a few big prizes or cash rewards along with smaller winnings. The winnings upload directly to a user’s phone, and can include retail coupons, free products, money, gift cards or chances to win something even bigger.

“'Pokemon Go' and our Treasure Canyon hunts showed us people are willing to go somewhere if they are going to get something,” Cheney said.

The Seek app launched nationwide Wednesday. About a third of the treasure chest locations are in Utah, with the rest focused on warm locations throughout the United States. Cheney said they expect to launch in Canada by the end of February, and continue to expand Seek’s reach as places open up and as fast as they can point and click.

“All of our chest placement was done manually, by 10 employees pointing and clicking. We didn’t want to create an algorithm that throws them out everywhere — that is where Pokemon went wrong, and some of them were in places that were dangerous or not appropriate,” Cheney said. “Doing it manually, we specifically were able drop them along walkways and in parks.”

Cheney and his business partner, Mike Snow, have garnered significant financial and business support from many areas — some of whom supported Treasure Canyon. Cheney and Snow plan to continue Treasure Canyon adventures, but that business is limited to a specific location.

Those backing Seek are excited about its future growth potential, because it can honestly expand anywhere in the world.

“You can do so many things with this app that are really engaging. And we have lots of ideas,” Cheney said. “If everything goes according to plan our mentors believe Seek will soar far past 'Pokemon Go.' This is cutting edge augmented-reality marketing.”

To find out more, visit www.seekadventureapp.com.

Karissa Neely reports on Business & Community events, and can be reached at (801) 344-2537 or kneely@heraldextra.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely