Max Doblin ’15 and his co-founder, Blake Danzig, also a graduate of Syracuse University, had been following @HiddenCash, a Twitter account that announced hidden money across the Silicon Valley. Every time money was hidden, 200-3,000 people showed up looking for it.
After @HiddenCash went viral, Doblin and Danzig, who consider themselves ‘advertising nerds’, reasoned that they could leverage the same experience and frenzy that particular Twitter account created to enhance the relationships between brands and consumers. They recognized that millennials are growing intolerant of disruptive advertisements, and brands are struggling to find ways to engage with millennials. They found that, while millennials reject ads, they actually seek to engage with brands that create reward-driven experiences and challenges. This is the driving force behind Hypeist.
Doblin and Danzig put their initial hypothesis to the test during their last semester at Syracuse by creating an Instagram account that shared details about hidden products around campus. They worked with brands, like Red Bull, Chipotle and Strong Hearts on the Hill, to drop things like limited edition products and gift cards around campus. After demonstrating early success, the team sought to continue their product drops by pursuing Hypeist full-time.
Hypeist is a mobile app for brands to release exclusive products, experiences and content through scavenger hunts in which fanatics and enthusiasts can search for hidden products. Hypeist is being officially launched in New York City this summer and has already run a handful of hunts through its Instagram account. Hunts have included a pair of limited edition Jordan brand sneakers to signed prints by Matt Gondek, an L.A.-based artist with whom Hypeist has collaborated. The team is currently working with a handful of other pilot partners, such as GoodWoodNYC, Nectar Sunglasses, Vaportini and Steiner Sports.