Back in the days, there was a music variety TV show called Soul Train featuring brothas and sistas dancing to soul music performed by many of legendary soul/disco/funk artists. During the show Soul Train had a segment called the Soul Train scramble board and here is a video of your aunt and uncle showing us how the Soul Train scramble board work.
Today, with mobile technology such as QR codes and GoDaddy $5/month web sites, the sistas can easily create a modern derivation of the Soul Train Scramble Board with a little bit of Wheel of Fortune and Amazing Race to create a QR Code Scavenger Hunt weekend side hustle. This side hustle requires little (less than $50) start-up cost and effort and can generate a scalable ROI while supporting and helping sistas-owned businesses in Atlanta.
Background on QR Code Scavenger Hunts
Mobile scavenger hunts are not new and been around for quite some time. The very old school term was war-driving and this was done with car GPS like Garmin where cats had to find the latitude and longitude. Then QR code started coming on the scene for mobile phones and QR code scavenger became the rage around 2010 but for some reason fell off an I know why – it was overcomplicated and QR stickers on public property like bus stops and light poles is not cool. However, QR Codes are still used as educational projects at various schools as a STEM activity.
Here are a few examples of QR code scavenger hunts:
If you noticed in the example videos, you will see activity that resemble the Amazing Race show where people are rushing from point A to point B to get clues and at the end of the game, there is a big clue to solve or they are racking up points and the one with the most points wins. So this can be a great activity where family or friends get together and scan the QR code and solve the clues themselves on a Saturday morning – even great for girlfriend activities or group/meetup/dating activities.
Understanding the Business Model
The majority of QR code scavenger hunts were operated as promotional projects, educational projects or tech nerdy hobbyist activities. We believe sistas in Atlanta can turn the QR code scavenger hunt into a revenue-generating business model to promote her personal brand as well as promote sista-owned businesses in the Atlanta area. Let’s look at the main entities in our version of the QR code scavenger hunt business model.
Administrator. This is you, the sista who is managing and running the QR code scavenger hunt. Your job is to promote an upcoming Saturday morning scavenger hunt on Facebook and EventBrite and Meetup as a future event and appear on the local morning news shows promoting as a self-branded socialite promoting your fun event as a weekend activity for Atlanta people to do. You are also responsible for selling and validating participates through ticket sales and signing up merchants and having the material for merchants to distribute as well as your social media channels for the event. You are also responsible for validating the winner of the scavenger hunt and validating they are a winner before officially announcing they are the winner.
Participants. These are the people who will buy tickets to participate in the QR code scavenger hunt and must have a QR code reader on their internet-connected mobile device. They can invite their friends, their children or in-town visitors or dates to participate with them as they go around town to pick up the clues and help solve the puzzle. Participates will use their mobile phone to access the scavenger hunt web site and get address on the sista-owned merchant to go and pick up a QR code clue.
Merchants. These are the sista-owned businesses in Atlanta from non-profit organizations, boutiques, hair salons and hair beauty stores. The merchants will hold the QR codes they will provide the participant who visit their shop but the merchant will have the participant earn the QR code by checking in the shop on Facebook or post a photo of them at the shop on their Facebook or Instagram. Appearing on social media with a timestamp is part of the validation process to verify the participate has visited the shop and collected the QR code fairly. The merchant can also provide coupons or a swag bag hoping the participate come back and support their business. The merchant can also contribute a prize to the scavenger hunt as a sponsor.
Rules. The rules are the guidelines for the game to allow fair gameplay and a fair outcome for all participants. For example, the QR code received by the merchant must be scanned in and registered under the participate code and every registered QR code must be turned in to validate that participant is the winner. Or after three QR code letters were collected and registered, then answer screen for the participant to guess the answer will display for them to solve the puzzle. So the rules must be very tight and structured to allow proper gameplay.
We will go into the rules later but as you see, everybody benefits from the sista Saturday morning side hustle. The sista-owned merchants will have people visiting their business which is basically free advertising for just participating in the scavenger hunt (sista-owned merchants should not be charged to participate, just get on a list to be selected). The participants will have a fun activity to do Saturday morning for a prize as well as a fun activity with their friends, family or dates. And the sista running the QR code scavenger hunt can increase her social brand and generate revenue appearing on TV and promoting an event that has a positive net effect. Everybody is winning here.
Creating the Technology Platform
I saw plenty of technology platforms out there to run a scavenger hunt but they are not scalable and limited to education or home-activities like a birthday party or sleepover activity. But it is best for you sistas to just create the technology yourself because you can learn how to scale this business model to bigger and better once you know how to create the technology and make it work.
The way the game is going to work is you are going to have letters like the Soul Train board that can make up a word such as the name of a famous sista in history. And you going to distribute each letter that make up the word to different merchants across town in the form of postcards to pass out to each participate. So what you want to get is postcards that allow you to have a QR code on one side to scan the postcard and register it and also the letter as the clue.
Each postcard is actually unique in the database system and will point to a web site url like examplewebsite.com/qr/234234234. You can get the web site and domain name (don’t have to be a .com, there are cheaper ones out there) and it comes with a database from GoDaddy for 4.95 a month and if you go look for coupon codes, I seen them time to time for $2/month on sale. So the database table should look like this for example:
The QR_id is from the QR code such as examplewebsite.com/qr/123, the event_id is the actual event or the Saturday Morning on a certain date you hosting, the Game_id is the specific came where you can run more than one scavenger hunt during that event (to scale up in the future) and the letter is the clue that is part of the whole word. The merchant id is the merchant you assign the letter to and the partipant_id is updated with the participant_id once the QR code is scanned in – set participant id to 456456 where qr_id is 123. Now, once that unique QR poster card is scanned in, no one can scan that same postcard in - this is to prevent the postcard from being shared with another person as a way to cheat. Keep in mind the social media check-in also prevent cheating because they have to show they were there to get the postcard.
To print on the cards, I believe there is a QR code Merge command in Microsoft Word 2013 or greater and the URL is located at http://hubpages.com/technology/Mail-Mergeable-Barcodes-in-Microsoft-Word-2013-aka-Bar-Codes. I have not tried it but it look like it works. In Microsoft Word, you do a merge from your database the same way you create mailing labels and print the qr_id from your database to represent the individual QR codes on one side and the letter on the other side. Then you mail these off or drop them off at the participating merchant.
Now, there are additional technology things you need – you can use EventBrite or another ticketing service to create the tickets to your event and WordPress has a few plugins to sell your own tickets – it’s a lot of stuff out there to sell and validate tickets. You book these events weeks in advance on Facebook so the tickets can sell up. Also, you need a Facebook page or Twitter or Instagram that allow participates to tag your hashtag or label or name to show their progress in the game and what sista-owned business they checked-in at.
Scavenger Hunt Process and Rules
I think the rules and process are straight-forward. On Saturday morning at 8:00am, the participants receive on their mobile phone via e-mail or web site (after logging in participate code) a list of sista-owned merchants and addresses to go and collect the cards. The participants hit the road. You could have a registration place as a starting point and probably the best place is a Starbucks parking lot or a mall or corporate office parking lot on the Saturday morning which is usually empty.
The sista-owned merchant should be smart enough to have a setup where they have a trade show banner stand (cost about $50 on Amazon for frame, print banner separately at print shop) that allow people to social media check-in taking a photo against their logo or store brand so when the check-in is shared, the business is advertised throughout social media as the scavenger hunt goes on. This is free promotion and advertising and since the sista-owned operation is not being charged and helping out, they should spend funds creating coupons and trinkets for a swag-bag giveaway.
After the participant take the photo and check-in, then the sista-owned merchant gives the participants the QR code postcard to scan in and take with them and let them know they have to bring the actual postcard to the winner station to be validated as the winner and receive the prize. The participant scans in the QR code and the postcard and letter is registered to them to figure out what the word could be from the letters they collect.
After they collect 3 letters, they will be allowed to enter the correct word or phrase like Wheel of Fortune and will only have 3 chances to enter the correct phrase or be disqualified to give someone else the chance to enter the correct phrase. Don’t matter if the correct phrase is leaked because the person who is authorized to guess next will win if they guessed it correctly, just like Wheel of Fortune.
The participant will be told if they guessed correctly but they have to validate their social media check-ins and their postcards and go to the winner circle to collect the prize. You can just set up a 10x10 canopy like a tailgater in an empty parking lot somewhere as your winner circle to deliver the prize. If they do not have the information, they are disqualified and the next participant in line has the chance to validate and win the prize. Upon an official winner, all participants are notified that a winner has been selected and reward the prize indicating the game is over.
Operation Costs and Revenue
This is probably one of the most cheapest and entry-level side hustles a sista can do to quickly get money coming in on her Saturday morning side hustle and scale up to a bigger revenue-generating model. The tickets can be setup and a fee will be charged later if using paid services. The merchants should not have a problem participating if it brings people to their door and spread their business on social media. And participates have a fun activity to do on Saturday morning. So the demand is there and everybody has something to gain from this side hustle operation.
The one cost one may think of is the prize award. The prize award should be the main cost but factored into the number of ticket sales. As a rule of thumb, the prize amount should be 50% of the total revenue with the assumption of a $20 entrance fee or 25% of total revenue with the assumption of a $10 entrance fee. So for example, 10 participants paying a $20 entrance fee is $200 revenue so the prize should be $100 in value like a $100 gift card. That give you $100. But this is too small and likely will be bigger such as 25 to 50 people and easily 100 people over time so let’s say 30 participants paid $10 to enter which is $300 so you offer a $150 gift card or prize. You take the other half as revenue that goes to you or your non-profit.
If you think this is not a lot of money or worth the effort, then you might want to think about something. Think about the fact you are spreading your socialite brand in the city of Atlanta among these sistas boutiques. And think about the scavenger hunt only lasting a few hours on Saturday morning to get paid $100 to $500 – that’s more than some of these so-called motivational speakers get and you not doing much of anything except letting the game play itself out and give out the prize to the winner. I mean, $200 every weekend adds up to a lot of money over time. But we haven’t even talk about how to scale it up so I know you thinking way too small if you reached this conclusion.
Scalability and Growth
There are a lot of techniques to grow this Saturday morning side hustle into something major. First, you can have the merchants offset the prize reward by contributing to it such as provide the $100 gift card for the reward and other sponsors increase the pot so you keep all ticket revenue. Also consider the fact you may want to do this for your non-profit branding instead of your for-profit branding and you keep the generated revenue in your non-profit to perform activities to increase your social brand even more.
Second, remember the database above when I had the game id and the event id? That was for you sistas to eventually scale vertically and horizontally to run your QR code scavenger hunt in multiple places earning multiple revenue streams at the same damn time. You can scale verticals by going after different genres such as not only the sista-owned boutiques, but you can do active-wear and fitness-wear boutiques, you can do pets stores and places that provide pet care and pet shelters. Horizontal is spreading the same business model from Atlanta to Houston and Dallas and Charlotte and New York and Miami and Baltimore and Chicago and Los Angeles and Seattle all over where sistas are at. Because remember – this is really a web-based game and you can ship the postcard via mail to any merchant in the country. But you can have affiliates in New York running this for you and take a cut of the revenue from ticket sales. You sistas can make this really big.
Now many of you sistas may realize there is a new trend called the escape game that can be as small as a hotel or conference center hall or big as a stadium that allow participants to register and play these same kind of puzzle games. This is a growing worldwide trend and something that a sista can eventually scale her hustle into – maybe create a puzzle game at an Atlanta nightclub on Saturday morning based on finding Mr. Right to win the game while some of the sistas end up getting Mr. Wrong. So do not sleep on this business model because at the small level, it can be a simple scavenger hunt that you take to the Essence Music Festival in July or you sistas can make this into a real career if you love running these events into sista-theme events that can happen the same morning of a Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards as an off-site event here in Atlanta.
Sistas Should Start Getting This Saturday Morning Side Hustle Flowing
This is the kind of side hustle any sista with a little money can get up and running right now here in Atlanta and also any other city in the world, including London. Let's review all the winnings here.
Low Start-Up Cost. It should only take a tax-refund check to get this going and in our estimates can be as little as $50 if you know what you doing. Most of the services is web-based and paper-printing based and using outdoor space and merchant space to facilitate the game.
Promote and Sell Tickets in Advance. You can sell future events on EventBrite and other ticketing services and cancel if not enough tickets are sold and promote the future event on Facebook. If you was smart, you would realize the same cat who wrote this article manage the Black Professionals Network Facebook Group with 70,000 members - sounds like a place you can promote to a lot of sistas, huh? Your loss exposure is lower than other business models by properly forecasting ticket sold and cost coverage.
Merchants Get Free Promotion. By just participating, the sista-owned merchants will be listed as a place the participants can go and collect a clue as well as do a social media check-in to spread the sista-owned business on social media.
Participants Have Fun Activity. This is a great activity do run around town like the Amazing Race as well as work together like the Soul Train scramble board to figure out the word or phrase that will win them a prize - a gift card they can go enjoy the rest of their Saturday with.
Sista Social Brand Explode. As a sista keep having these events, she connect with more sista-owned businesses, connect with participants and increase her social brand and the value she bring to Atlanta. She appear on the Fox 5 morning show, CBS 46 afternoon show, 11 Alive morning show and WSBTV here in Atlanta showcasing her QR-code scavenger hunt as a weekend activity, increasing her brand and operation even more.
Growth Potential. A sista can expand her side hustle horizontally and verticals into different genres and regions and scale up to bigger and better puzzle activity games using mobile devices or run an escape game tour.
The best model for this in Atlanta would be sistas at Georgia State University, Clark-Atlanta, Spellman or a sorority and use this as a fundraiser idea or as a weekend Saturday morning side hustle. But any sista can perform this as their Saturday morning side hustle, like the sistas at Georgia-Pacific, Coca-Cola, Suntrust, State of Georgia, CNN, Southern Company, Atlanta Gas and Light, AT&T and Verizon up in Atlanta.
Overall, the awesomeness of this business model delivers value for the sistas by helping a sista have a side hustle on the weekend, increase her social brand, generate revenue for her for-profit or non-profit branding venture, help sista-owned merchants get more customers and free advertising, give participants something fun to do on a Saturday morning and a growth path to find a passion and connects around the city of Atlanta. This is all fun, exciting, entrepreneurial and definitely something we all can get gains from and form a Soul Train line to celebrate.