As of last Friday, the Syracuse Student Sandbox completed its first week of operations by hosting a scavenger hunt around the Downtown Syracuse area. While student entrepreneurs spent the majority of the week working on their businesses, they did have the chance to get familiar with the downtown area, as well as the core business model of one student startup, HoundDog (more on that name follows).

Syracuse Student Sandbox - an iSchool course

Syracuse Student Sandbox – an iSchool course

A ‘Street’ Demo

The scavenger hunt was more than a fun activity for the students – it was a demonstration of one of the Sandbox startup’s concepts. As an activity planned for the first week of the Student Sandbox, the company’s scavenger hunt creation provided “immersive experiences between brands and consumers through location-based beacons,” according to IDEA.

Weekly Test-Outs

This year in the Sandbox, each Friday, student teams will have the chance to create an event or activity related to their businesses. Not only do these events provide student entrepreneurs exposure to their peers, they also offer the  opportunity to get feedback and put business concepts into action.

Max Doblin, Hypeist founder, via

Max Doblin, via

The scavenger hunt startup concept was the first ‘street demo.’ The company’s Max Doblin, who graduated from Syracuse University with a dual major in advertising and entrepreneurship, said the activity “allows some of the student teams and especially some of the foreign students to get acclimated into the downtown area in Armory Square specifically. ” For Startup Sandbox students who are coming from different areas of the world, “Syracuse has a lot to offer, and it’s important that students figure out the places to go early on in the program, as [it] lasts for six weeks,” he added.

“Traditionally, we kind of do rewarded hunts, where you will find a hidden reward or product,” said Doblin. The Sandbox activity represented “something new…something we have never done before–which is focusing on discovery, finding new places, and having a social experience with a group of people. This is more from the collaborative and community-based side rather than the competitive side.”

Hypeist announces its name change, via Twitter/photo -

Hypeist announces its name change, via Twitter/photo –

Startup’s New Name

While the team originally named its company Hound Dog, it recently made the decision to change the name to Hypeist.

The startup is “a platform where brands release exclusive content, experience, and products, and I don’t think ‘Hound Dog’ fit that overall, longer-term vision,” he explained.

The new name represents “someone who is going to prove their fandom to a brand to earn things,” said Doblin.

Concept Testing

Doblin says  having the opportunity to see their business concept in action gives his team the chance to improve the way it presents and hides products.

“We can do something where we hide a Chipotle giftcard and if you think you know where that location is based on a riddle or photo, you go find it,” said Doblin. “Or we can do something that is multi-step where you have to complete all these steps and then you earn something. Or we can do something that is a blend of those two.”

Blake Danzig via

Blake Danzig via

David Kern via

David Kern via

While the team–which also includes David Kern and Blake Danzig— has spent a number of hours planning, they won’t really be able to measure success until the exercise  is tested in person. “I think it’s also a good learning experience for us as well,” said Doblin. “The toughest part is you can plan it, but you always find flaws. The wording of something might be too easy or too difficult. I mean, there is always something.

Future Plans

The startup team also has big plans for the future,which include working with brands worldwide and even becoming an e-commerce platform.

“We can sell them on our platform,” said Doblin, of that potential. “Now, we become a distribution hub, as well as a promotional company. I think that has a really neat aspect to it, but has a long time until we get to it.”

hypeist phone

‘Comeback’ Strategy

Additionally, the team is still working on a strategy that gets consumers to use the platform continuously, rather than just on a one-time basis.

“The biggest challenge will be getting a user base of people who will go back and hunt time and time again,” said Doblin.

Do you have comments on the Student Startup Sandbox concept? Thoughts about the Hound Dog name change? We’d love to hear what you have to say! Leave your comments in the section below.