Startups Gear Up for Scavenger Hunt of Boston’s Innovation Hotspots, to Benefit Young Entrepreneurs

Boston-area technology entrepreneurs may not get much work done on Friday, October 9. If Highland Capital Partners can drum up enough interest, hundreds of high-tech employees will be spending that afternoon combing Boston for digital clues as part of what it is calling “The Quest for Innovation.” It’s a high-tech scavenger hunt intended to raise money for local youth programs and universities, and to highlight Boston’s history as a hotbed of new ideas.

The plan is for at least 50 teams representing local startups, venture firms, service providers, universities, and other organizations to fan out across Boston’s Downtown Crossing and City Hall Plaza neighborhoods, competing to solve challenges linked to landmark locations in the city’s history of innovation. They’ll use their cell phones to download the challenges, send back their answers, and get directions to the next clue location, all powered by a game platform developed by SCVNGR, a Boston-based startup backed by Highland. (We profiled SCVNGR last fall.)

Teams will be encouraged to pledge cash to participate, and service providers such as venture firms, law firms, banks, and executive search firms are contributing sponsorships of $1,000 to $5,000, according to organizer Michael Gaiss, a senior vice president at Highland who runs the firm’s marketing, media relations, and entrepreneurial development programs. The proceeds will go to support youth-focused programs such as Youth Cities and the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation, as well as entrepreneurship programs at local undergraduate schools like Emerson College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Olin College of Engineering.

The idea for the innovation quest came out of discusssions with SCVNGR CEO and founder Seth Priebatsch about the best way to launch the Boston version of XPLR, the startup’s free tool for building text-message-driven scavenger hunts, Gaiss says. “We took a step back and said, ‘Why don’t we see if we can turn this launch into an innovation-economy gathering—to get together some of the area’s most innovative companies and use it as an opportunity to celebrate our heritage in Boston of centuries of bringing innovations to market,'” he says. “And if we’re successful, maybe there’s a way to give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs in Boston.”

Though Gaiss says the final details are still being worked out, the event will likely begin at City Hall Plaza around 1:00 p.m. on Friday, October 9, with opening remarks from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The scavenger hunt itself will take about two and a half hours and will feature … Next Page »

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