The startup SCVNGR (pronounced as if there the missing vowels were still there) is getting one step closer to creating a game layer on top of the world. Tonight it’s releasing applications for iPhone and Android devices that allow users to build geo-targeted challenges for each other to play. So, for instance, if you visit a burrito shop and open your SCVNGR App, you can partake in a challenge to build origami art out of your used tin-foil wrapping. If you capture a picture of your creation with your phone, you’ll receive points for uploading it and maybe even a badge. If you have an idea for a better challenge, you can create it yourself for others to play.
SCVNGR previously only allowed users to play at destinations with challenges created by paying customers. Some 600 clients — among them universities, cities and retailers — pay $10,000-$50,000 per year to operate 25 challenges accessible to SCVNGR users. Now SCVNGR is going for growth. User creators will be able to do everything companies and institutions could do to make new challenges around the 20 million locations loaded in the app, but they won’t have the same analytics and support tools as paying customers.
SCVNGR, which has 44 employees and funding from Google Ventures and Highland Capital Partners, has been cash-flow positive for the last six months. But CEO Seth Priebatsch, who founded the company 18 months ago when he was a freshman at Princeton, said his team screens all participation to make sure it’s as “awesome” as they want SCVNGR to be. “We have turned down a lot of money from people who want to build in ways that aren’t fun,” he said.
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