Augmented reality treasure hunting app Seek pivots to become a hub for AR projects

One year after launching at South by Southwest with an augmented reality treasure hunting app, the Utah-based startup Seek has returned with an update transforming its service into a “YouTube for AR”.

Rather than being focused on disappearing, site-specific augmented reality experiences, the company now wants to be a hub where developers can post their augmented reality projects for any of its users to discover.

Seek founder Jon Cheney started working on the app as a traditional treasure hunting game, which evolved from an offline business he’d started in 2016 after spending a few years working for the edtech company, Chegg.

“We were running events that started in January 2016,” Cheney told me. “We put $100 above a waterfall. We started with money and increasing amounts and said let’s make an app so we can push a button and buildout clues. A month later we started the app.”

After seeing the success of Pokemon Go, Cheney decided to add AR features to his treasure hunting game.

“It turns out all you have to do to start a successful business is get $100 and bury it in the woods,” Cheney told me.

When it launched the AR-enabled version of the platform at SXSW, it used its own revenue to buy the rewards it had hidden around town. That successful launch brought the company to the attention of brands like Samsung and Cinemark, who signed contracts to develop sponsored AR-augmented treasure hunts.

In the year since, the company has expanded its roster of clients and has generated roughly $1.5 million in revenue.

To date, 1000 AR-developers have used the service to distribute projects — either commercially or on their own.

Brands are also flocking to the new model. So far, the company said that Samsung and Lionsgate are using the new service, according to Cheney. And projects with Six Flags Magic Mountain and Warner Bros. are on the way, Cheney said.

Projects can be discovered through a trending feature and a geo-located map feature which was held over from the first version of Seek, Cheney said.

For Seek, the goal isn’t to develop its own AR content, but to be a hub available for Android and iPhone users to get exposure to projects in the $108 billion market for enhanced or virtual reality experiences.

Here’s an example of Seek’s AR offerings: