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Syracuse Startups: Hypeist, Digital Scavenger Hunts for Millennials

Syracuse Startups: Hypeist, Digital Scavenger Hunts for Millennials

Millennials are always looking for new ways to be hyper connected, especially with the help of social media. We all know they love posting photos of their daily adventures to social sites like Instagram, and now New York-based retail brands are tapping into that mobile app to advertise to this younger demographic by partnering with Hypeist, a platform for digital scavenger hunts.

Syracuse startup Hypeist is a digital platform that offers brands a fun way to interact with their customers. Through online scavenger hunts around New York City (Hypeist calls them “Drops” instead of digital scavenger hunt because it sounds “childish”) companies advertise their new and exclusive products to consumers.

The official Hypeist app hasn’t launched yet, so Drops are conducted through the company’s Instagram page

Drops, or digital scavenger hunt, are currently conducted through the company’s Instagram page

“We are creating something that is more than just an advertisement,” Max Doblin, cofounder of Hypeist and Syracuse University alumni, said. “We look at them as experiences, and we found that Millennials are becoming the hardest to contact in terms of advertising.”

Doblin and his cofounders, David Kern and Blake Danzig, were inspired by an outdoor scavenger hunt created by a real estate broker who hid cash around Silicon Valley last summer. “We looked at that and said, ‘How can we create the same relationship between consumers and brands?’”

Hypeist works directly with the different retail companies, which Doblin said range from a street artist in Los Angeles to a tech company in Seattle, to create brand-specific Drops or digital scavenger hunts. The Drops typically feature limited edition products and new releases, often including things like street wear, sneakers, and street art.

The official Hypeist app hasn’t launched yet, so Drops are advertised and conducted through the company’s Instagram page. After checking the Instagram account, users can search for current or upcoming Drops to participate for a chance to win one of the partner companies’ limited-edition products.

The team hides different Hypeist tokens, which are things like a lock, a sticker, a medallion, or a mini sneaker box. When participants find one of these tokens they send a photo of it in a direct message on Instagram and the Hypeist team informs them where they can pick up their reward.

“We are figuring out ways to create engagements with brands and consumers in a non-traditional sense,” Doblin said.

The Hypeist app is set to launch in December, so participants are encouraged to use the Instagram account until then. Once the app launches, Doblin said the hidden reward tokens will have unique claim codes that the user can enter into the app, which will reveal where they can pick up their reward in the city.

Hypeist Drops are currently only available in New York City, but Doblin said the team is looking into other cities in the future.

“There has never really been anything like this where brands and consumers actively go seek each other,” Doblin said. “What we realized at Syracuse is that we have this ability to create communities around brands and consumers.”

About The Author

Alexi McCammond

Chicago native living in NY. I love dogs, pizza, and Netflix binge sessions - in no particular order.


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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