There are times technology’s take-over of the world is overwhelming. Other times, its allure makes sense, because it is fun. Last Wednesday was one of those times.
Introducing Kwest. Andrew Brown and Omeed Shams are young entrepreneurs who selected Denton as one of three Texas cities to pilot their new brainchild, a GPS-triggered app designed to facilitate discovery within a destination.
“When I moved to Dallas from Amarillo, everyone said there was nothing to do,” said Andrew. “I found a lot happening, but the people around me preferred games on their phones over getting out. That’s how I got the idea that a game-style tour could be viable entertainment and a potential business at the same time.”
Omeed has held a key development role in his family’s software company since junior high. After graduating from UNT, he went on to grad school at the University of Texas at Dallas where he met Andrew. The two were quick friends and realized their combination of ideas and development expertise had the makings of a solid business concept.
The two integrated cutting-edge mobile technology to create what they call, “a scavenger hunt reimagined for the digital age.” They launched Kwest in 2014, and turned iPhones into tour guides on skillfully-designed geo-caching-like scavenger hunts. Over the past few months, they’ve worked hand-in-hand with our CVB communications team, headed by Veronica Maldonado, to build a Denton adventure. And, ta-da! They unveiled the newest addition to our Discover Denton app family last Wednesday at a reception hosted by Barley and Board.
I was thrilled to be among 18 local social media influencers chosen to take the first-ever Denton Kwest. We divided into groups for the digital Denton experience. Through clever location-based riddles and puzzles, we discovered little details and nuances about things we see every day but never really notice. Like, did you know there is a guitar pick hidden by the artist within the leaf tornado sculpture on the corner of Hickory and Locust? I didn’t!
While Kwest can be a leisurely tour, the game format also invites competitive opportunites. Users can earn real-world products, discounts and in-app currency called Koins that can be spent on future Kwests. My team was all about the competition. So I was serious about one of our steps requiring a selfie with a favorite album in Mad World Records. I was so engrossed in setting up my selfie, I didn’t realize my team had moved on. I hurried to catch up. While searching for a puzzle piece at the next Kwest stop, I set my things down and was horrified to see my selfie CD sitting right on top. “I’m an unintentional thief!” I wailed. That got some guffaws from my teammates and I rushed back to return it.
Back at Barley and Board, 100 percent approval was evident in shouts and applause amidst laughter and friendly jabbing. Everyone had a blast and a discovery to share.
Audacity Brewhouse co-owner Doug Smith moved to Denton two years ago. “Finding downtown as a destination was easy,” he said. But until today, I always thought UNT on the Square was a place for alums, and since I’m not one I never went in there. On the Kwest, I discovered it’s an art gallery. I love art and would have gone to exhibits all this time if I’d known.”
“I've lived in Denton for more than a decade and thought I knew a lot about the downtown square. Was I in for a surprise!” exclaimed Shelly Tucker. We were all amazed since Shelly’s Ghost Tours of Denton has her touring on the square every weekend. “Kwest isn't just an app for "twenty-somethings, either,” she went on. “I think that people of any age will enjoy it. What a great idea for a first date, a family outing, a pre-teen birthday party, or just a leisurely afternoon.”
Omeed Shams, Chris Phillips and Brian Scott on their Kwest in front of J&J's Pizza in downtown Denton.
Chris Phillips tagged along for the Kwest as our end-user representative. “It’s a great social app and a cool way to get to know people,” he said.
I’m super proud of our CVB team and the Kwest guys’ work. The Denton Kwest is fun, and I see many more coming down the pike. Horse Country. Live music. Craft beer. Senior walk-abouts. University orientations. The possibilities are endless!
Want to try it yourself? It only works on iOS, so partner up with an iPhone user if you don’t have one. Download the free Kwest app, select Denton, select the "Kwest Guide to Denton Square" and enter “dentoning” for a free Denton Kwest.
May it never be said, “There’s nothing to do in this town!” We know better!
“Your City is Calling. Find Your Kwest.” Download here from the Apple App Store.