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Clue Me! Original Crowdfunding Description to Someday Compare with the Outcome

11/8/2014

Name of Campaign:  “Clue Me” Traveler’s Guide to Hidden Gems

Tag Line:  A brilliant online map to uncover and share “hidden gems” – bringing historical and cultural gems to the fingertips of every traveler

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The original campaign description (minus some extraneous description of rewards):

In the words of I. Montoya:  “Let me explain …. No, that would take too long.  Let me sum up.”

Have you ever been on vacation, and had occasion to be with a superb guide?  Someone who knew the local "secrets," showed you the wealth of lesser known but fascinating places, and shared the intriguing backstories?  These gems add immensely to a vacation, but for most travelers they remain hidden.

“Clue Me” aims to create a one-of-a-kind online map for locals and travelers alike, where anyone can discover and share “hidden gems” – bringing the “secrets” of the pros to the fingertips of every traveler, for free, in the moment when the information is most meaningful (i.e. when you’re right there!).

Our project to build and launch “Clue Me”

Clue Me will be a mobile-friendly, internet-based map showing hundreds, and eventually thousands, of little-known, but very interesting places, or little-known details about famous places.  The sites will be placed on the map by travelers (including you!) who found and enjoyed them and will tell others why they’re worthy of being called a gem.

You might ask: “what about Mapquest or Tripadvisor or Frommers or … Yelp?”  Here’s the difference.  These services direct you to coffee shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, and the like.  En route, you bypass the many hidden gems, whose locations and relevance are known and enjoyed by a select few.

We aim to make these locations available to everybody.

Compiling these sites is an important outcome.  As time goes by, they are gradually being relegated to a dusty backroom (figuratively speaking) of the internet or library or gray matter.  There’s no database from which they can be downloaded.  Clue me will provide a place to share and document these gems.  We'll gradually change the little known into the well known, so people can use Clue Me to see the history all around them.

Here’s an example of how Clue Me will work.

You’re in Copenhagen.  You pull up our map and see dozens of “hidden gem” icons.  Touch an icon near your route to see a clue (e.g. the arrow points to the one you selected).  

Go to the location, follow the clue to identify the hidden gem.

Sample Clue:  "Things are coming 'round, and looking up."

Once there, click again to see a description to confirm you’ve found the right place (there will be a way to also jump to the description immediately).  You’ll also see a sentence or two from the person who posted the site, telling you why they thought it was worth including in Clue Me.

Description:  A cannonball lodged in the wall.  This cannonball was shot from a British warship that elected not to pay the toll imposed by Denmark on ships going to the Baltic Sea.  This was back when Denmark owned both Helsingor and Helsingborg (in current day Sweden), which were so close together they could force ships to stop and pay a tax (as an alternative to taking fire from both sides of the channel).  Hundreds of people walk past this cannonball every day, not seeing the remnant of the shelling that ensued when the Brits decided to put an end to the tax.

If you like the site, you can “like” it.  You can also add a comment.

Here's the value of building Clue Me

1.  Travelers develop greater understanding of and appreciation for their host country, its people, its culture.

2.  Tourism benefits will be disbursed more widely as visitors take small detours to see a gem.

3.  Budget friendly way for travelers to see and do more, in the same amount of time, for free.

4.  The “hidden gems” that are the places and stories we’re talking about will become visible to everyone, and compiled in one spot.

Clue Me is a “non-equity crowdfunding” project

The Clue Me project will consist of creating the map, pre-populating with sample locations around the world, additional pre-launch populating of the map by our backers (as described under each reward level), launching our beta, refining the system in response to beta feedback, and then opening to anyone, anywhere, to use and add. Launch of the beta will represent completion of the project.

Why you should consider backing Clue Me:

1. Details about hidden gems are available in history books and and in people’s heads.  Who is going to read the history books and make their own map?  Let’s get all that interesting stuff online, in a format that is easy to use at the moment when curiosity is piqued.

2.  Clue Me will eventually show thousands of locations that draw people to places they wouldn’t otherwise go, lead them to meet people they otherwise wouldn’t have met, and foster greater understanding and respect between people.  If we’re successful, this will change the world, at least a little bit.

3. Clue Me will be a one-of-a-kind resource created by travelers, for travelers. No more relying on a publisher in New York to tell you what to look at in New Zealand.

4. Clue Me makes travelling more fun.  Our optional clue-based format keeps people alert, excited, and having fun, so they forget about the tired feet and sweaty brow.

5. Clue Me is free to all users, anywhere, anytime.

6. Clue Me is developed entirely in the U.S.A.

7. Tangible rewards are all manufactured in the U.S.A.

8. All profits from sales of the project packages will be directed to developing the online backbone, map, and initial features for Clue Me.

OK, let’s fill in some details about Clue Me features and functions

Clue Me will be structured as a worldwide online scavenger hunt.  Anyone with an internet connection via smart phone, tablet, laptop, or coffee shop can use the basic features to follow clues and find the gems.  Touch or click a gem icon and receive a clue. Go to the location and follow the clue to find the hidden ‘gem.’ Think you’ve identified it? Go back to the pin on the map and click “show me.” You’ll see the identity and a sentence or two about why it’s a gem.

Are you in a hurry, a curmudgeon, or otherwise prefer to skip following the clue?  You can easily jump to the description.

Registered users will use extra features.

•    We’ll keep track of how many sites you’ve visited, which sites you’ve liked, and other stats so you’ve got an ongoing record to look back on and to share.

•    You’ll be able to add new gems.

•    You can see your position in the overall standings of “who has found the most sites,” “who has added the most sites,” “whose sites are most liked,” and things like that.

•    Add and delete Clue Me friends and groups, so you can team up, share, and compete with your friends.

Clue Me will be built by the users. We’ll create the baseline map, to which anyone, anywhere in the world, can add new gems. Adding new sites is simple. Log in. Mark the position on our map. Write a clue. Add a description (optionally a photo) so players will recognize it when found. Then add a sentence or two about why this is worthy of a visit, its cultural or historical significance, etc. Click “submit” and the new site goes into the “review queue.” Each submission will be reviewed to confirm they fit our criteria (e.g., no restaurants or hotels or things that are likely to change in a few months or years).  Anyone who adds sites will receive credit for doing so. We’ll keep a running tally of key stats for registered users.

Clue Me locations will be rated. We’ll have a simple method for players to indicate sites that they liked. Each site will be labeled on the map so users can see at a glance how popular, and thus avoid missing out on ‘can’t miss’ locations while planning their itinerary.

This is a sampling of the features we’re planning, but there will be many more, and we expect many to be derived from ideas provided to us by Clue Me users.

Why include the scavenger hunt aspect?

Three reasons.

•    People like games and challenges.

•    It gives us lots of latitude, longitude, and creative space, which we’ll use to make a truly one-of-a-kind travel guide.

•    By building in clues, we encourage people to look around and take in their surroundings.  The more they look, the more they see.  Chances are, players will see something that draws them in an entirely new, unexpected, and highly rewarding direction.

Project goals and milestones (Note that Phase II and higher goals for crowdfunding weren't met, so we're curious ourselves just how far we'll be able to take this)

We have broken this project into 4 segments.  We will pursue Phase I no matter what.  We commit to pursuing Phases II and on if we reach the stretch goals indicated.  The milestones below show development goals / features and time lines for each Phase.  Finally, if we significantly exceed our Phase IV goal, we will apply any additional profits directly to developing further enhancements of Clue Me.  In short, all profits from sales through this project are going to Clue Me.

**Phase I:  Smart Phone Version with Basic Features, target launch of beta is May 15, 2014.  Will be completed no matter what**.

After completing Phase I, we will have a fully functional version of Clue Me, with a map showing sites of interest, and the ability to check and add sites from smart phones.  This will also be accessible to tablets and laptops, but all graphics will be sized and optimized for smart phones.

**Phase II:  Smart Phone Version with Extra Features, target launch is June 15, 2014.  We commit to completing Phase II by this date if the stretch goal of $13,500 is reached.**

Phase II continues to focus on Smart Phone optimized layout, but we’ll add user-specific functionality:

•    Users can keep track of their own history of visiting sites and posting new sites.

•    Users can anonymously “like” sites.

•    Rankings of the most liked sites, the most liked members, and other interesting data.

•    Comments can now be added to any site.

**Phase III: Social Media and intermediate features, target launch is September 1, 2014.  We commit to completing Phase III by this date if the stretch goal of $23,500 is reached.**

Phase III brings intermediate level features into the guide.

•    We will optimize graphics depending on device, so tablets and laptops will now make full use of screen space.

•    Social media functionality will be optimized.

•    Visitors to a site can now add supplemental clues and photos to a posting.

•    We will introduce basic filtering and color-coding of sites on the map, which will help users view sites by categories of interest (e.g. most liked).

**Phase IV: Advanced Features, target launch is January 1, 2015.  We commit to completing Phase IV by this date if the stretch goal of $39,500 is reached.**

Phase IV will be ongoing development to include advanced features, with more features added if we reach or exceed this funding goal.  Anything we raise in excess of this final stretch goal will continue to be put directly into Clue Me development.  Examples of advanced features:

•    Some surprises are in our back pocket, which we’ll show you if we get this far.

•    We’ll collect user feedback and suggestions, and include some of the more clever and inventive suggestions.

•    Add and delete Clue Me Friends, so you can track activities of people in your family or group.

•    Advanced filtering capabilities added to map (e.g. sites added by certain individual, or addressing certain topics).

•    Highlight recent additions.

**Phase V: More Advanced Features, to be developed if we raise more than $43,750.**

This is somewhat redundant with the Phase IV description, but we want to emphasize that no matter how much money we raise through this project, all profits will be turned toward making Clue Me better.

A brief description of the team

Clue Me is a project of Skooblevart, Inc., a company dedicated to improving travel experiences by developing and offering uniquely useful projects and activities for travelers.  More specifically, Clue Me is the brainchild of Jeff Carpenter, who thought “wouldn’t that be fun?”  The details have been worked out with a lot of people and more will be involved.  But key to the idea and eventual development of Clue Me are Jeff and “VW,” our IT guru.  Rewards have been designed and produced by Jeff and Q (and our U.S. manufacturers and suppliers).  Reward production and delivery is in Q’s capable hands.  And our marketing video and photo team includes Mikyla, Karyn, and Elena.

May we also emphasize again, that all the design, reward production, software coding, and whatever else we do is accomplished in the U.S.

We very much appreciate your support, as a financial backer or eventual user or both.