January 7, 2015
Campus Pursuit is a smartphone app that connects brands to college students through daily treasure hunts. Any brand seeking to engage and connect with college students can hide their prizes in our treasure hunt, (which is currently active at five universities in the United States.) At each university a team of Campus Pursuit Student Managers organizes the treasure hunts at the school they attend, physically hiding prizes around their campus every day of school week. Users with the Campus Pursuit app get a push notification every day notifying them that prizes have been hidden. When they open the app, they see hints and clues that lead to the location of these brands’ prizes. Their treasure hunt marketing approach advertising is revolutionizing the way brands connect with college students.
In this week’s feature, we decided to interview the Founders of Campus Pursuit, Shachar Avraham and Scott Wisotsky, to learn more about them and how they use business messaging.
Tell us about how Campus Pursuit got started!
We founded Campus Pursuit in our dorm room at Binghamton University. Soon to be graduates, we launched the first treasure hunt at Binghamton in January 2014. We started Campus Pursuit with the intention of making our college campus a bit more fun, putting a smile on someone’s face every day, and enabling any brand to engage with the college market in a captivating way. By May of this year, Campus Pursuit will be operating at 11 universities across five U.S. states.
What were your needs in business communication in the very beginning?
We always needed to communicate as a team. It has been crucial since the first day we launched. When we first started, we were the only people hiding prizes. We were working with five local businesses in our college town, and we alternated days to hide prizes. Even though it was just the two of us, we needed to communicate to one another where the prizes were hidden so they could be posted on the app. For example, Scott would hide a prize under a rock outside, under a couch in a lounge, and behind a bulletin board in a library. He would then need to quickly text prize locations to Shachar, so he would be able to publish the clues onto the app and send out the push notifications.
Now there are over 25 people organizing Campus Pursuit treasure hunts who contribute in many different ways. Our Student Managers run all aspects of the treasure hunts on their campuses from making sales to hiding prizes, our Community Relations team keep our clients up to date, and we have some other team players as well. Our immense growth has been due to our constant communication with one another.
What are some tools you are using to communicate now?
Most in house communication is done on ZULA. ZULA has been a game changer for us. Ever since Jeff Pulver gave a presentation at our university about the app, we have used it in all aspects of our business. We have unique ZULA spaces with each of our teams. We even created university specific ZULA spaces, which many of our users have joined to communicate with one another.
Which aspect of business communication generally annoys you the most?
Definitely email threads. Sometimes the threads get so long that we sometimes think we’re missing things.
Do you have employees (or freelancers) that work remotely?
Yes! Our whole company consists of remote teams of students running treasure hunts, and the ability to allow any team of students to run a treasure hunt at their school.
What are the pros and cons of team collaboration via the web/mobile devices, versus in-person?
(Scott) A pro of in-person communication is being able to physically see people and gain a better understanding of what they mean through their body language. However, one of the major cons is that meeting face to face can be difficult to set up if the two people are in locations far apart from one another. By using a web/mobile device, I can virtually have a meeting with a client in Tel-Aviv, talk with my father in New York, and check in with my team in Maryland all within 20 minutes. If I wanted to have three separate in-person meetings with these people, it would take up a lot more of my time. As founders of a company, we must allocate our time efficiently. This is the reason digital communication platforms, such as ZULA, are essential for us. Yet of course digital communication platform can have their disadvantages. A few that come to mind are the inability to communicate if there is a lack of cell/internet service and misinterpreting someone’s intention through their message.
If spending a lot of time running around and meeting employees to collaborate is a con, the solution is to communicate virtually more often. Regarding the last con of digital platforms, emojis sometimes come in handy 🙂
How is leadership over virtual teams different from teams on-site?
As we are currently based in Binghamton, we take advantage of meeting with the Student Manager Team here in person. For us, face-to-face communication or speaking over the phone is more effective when there is a need to articulate or reiterate how to carry out a job. It is sometimes easier for people to hear a task being stated in person as opposed to reading it virtually.
Do you have some productivity and collaboration tips (tried and tested by Campus Pursuit) that you can share?
Thinking, talking, and doing are key aspects of our productivity. However, all three of these actions need to be done with moderation. Doing one more than the other, or forgetting to do one of these three core steps can be detrimental to the productivity of your company.
If you think too much and all you do is think, you will never produce or accomplish anything. On the other hand, if you don’t think about anything at all, chances are you will talk foolishly and act poorly.
If you don’t talk about any of your actions with team members, you will be unable to gain insight and chances are you will act foolishly. If you talk too much, you may not have time to think about what you say, and become a gossiper.
If you only are doing things, you won’t have time to think about them beforehand or talk them over with others.
It’s important to never get caught up in one of these three phases while running a business. Understanding these three phases has helped greatly with our own productivity within Campus Pursuit.
What are some team communication tips you can recommend?
Always have respect for your team members and be moral and ethical in your decisions. Don’t pressure or force anyone to do something because some people may need more time to accomplish tasks. Rather, take a moment to help them. It is also important to remind everyone once in a while how important their work is to the company and that what they are doing is making a difference.