Idea Overview:
More Business, More Exposure, Less Work. We're On A Mission To Bring Business Back To The Locals. Local small business, the kind every community has, are tired of seeing their sales slip to Amazon, eBay, and every other e-commerce site. They see other stores "Going Out Of Business" signs and mass retailers heading to bankruptcy, and are just plain feeling the squeeze. We can help change that making it fun, exciting, and rewarding in the process! Mystery on Main Street is a unique interactive, data rich marketing and advertising mobile application platform utilizing gamification to promote patronization of local merchants and eateries. Each “gameplay” uses “whodunit” storylines to takes players from location to location to receive clues and solve a mystery. Players must enter these locations but no interaction with location personnel and employees required. The first player to solve the mystery receives a valuable prize. Think of this as Groupon meets scavenger hunt and Pokémon Go, but players and participating merchants mutually gain with no membership or subscription required.
Who might use it/where it might be used?:
Data for the most successful similar mobile game reveals the average player is a 26 y/o woman making US$90k per year, the best player is 70 and group players range in age from 16 to over 60. In other words, this is not a kid’s game. Personal, legally required data including gender, DoB/age, address, and contact information collected from the player is used to determine prize winning eligibility. Data will not be sold and instead, is used to determine demographics information.
The Market (B2B, B2C or Both):
Sector the idea belongs to:
Information technology
Is there a similar idea to be found?:
MoMS, and its original iteration was created in February of 2019. Extensive research has been conducted since that period and continues to this day. There are no other exact ideas. The closest similarities are games one buys from the provider for personal use such as a group play amongst friends, or competition by an employer. In addition, static coupon print flyers are what can be considered the closest competition.
Why you think there is a demand for your idea?:
This as a fun, family friendly game where everyone wins. The retailer has an opportunity to increase foot traffic, increase market share, increase revenue and receive worldwide recognition. There is a window of time the player must be in the location to receive a clue. This opens the door for impulse purchases and return shopping. We’ll also have pinpoint analytics right down to what the best marketing strategy is for any particular demographic. It's beneficial to the community because gameplays and participating locations are viewable worldwide in the app’s map.
Who would be the ideal customers?:
Local merchants and eateries and any walk-in venue place to shop (e.g.: storefront retailers, restaurants, bookshops, events, entertainment centers, realtors, auto and vehicle dealers, showrooms, walk-in traffic business).
What ideas do you have to reach these customers?:
All initial marketing will be organic. Local print and television media, which typically promote any local community based advancement effort, will be made aware of gameplays, thus no cost. Furthermore, we intend to use the merchant's social media and email lists to get the word out. In addition, sponsoring merchants will receive an 8”x11” co-branded printable window display poster. We’ll also partner with local community organizations such as commerce chambers and development authorities as well as regional and local magazines and similar, offering an opportunity to co-sponsor a gameplay in exchange for no-cost promotion in the window of every sponsoring merchant.
How far have you developed this idea?:
Those that have provided feedback, point to the lack of additional personnel and advisors. They have a point, but I don't want to go out and begin gathering a slew of people if I have nothing for them to do. Once I have a real show of interest or even a verbal commitment, I have no issue agreeing to any funding based on an approved personnel roster by the funder.
What – if any – feedback have you had for this idea so far?:
MoMS is a member of a platform called Alignable.com. It specifically caters to the local SMB. On numerous occasions over the last three years, questions have been posed in reference to the viability, idea, and most importantly acceptance of MoMS and the overwhelming response has been positive. Further review and research within Alignable will uncover the number one priority of most businesses is the lack of promotional, marketing, and advertising methods available to them that is specifically offered to bring in traffic, not just advertise their business. This is what MoMS does.
What supporting material – if any - would you like to add to your proposal?:
Emails, a PowerPoint presentation, artwork, technical drawings and videos, business summary, extensive marketing material, generous amount of current research information, a case study based on a pilot site, and much more.

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17 comments to “Mystery on Main Street – More Business, More Exposure, Less Work. We’re On A Mission To Bring Business Back To The Locals.”

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  1. Matthew Schneider - June 22, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    I think there’s a lot of potential here. Onboarding small businesses would initially be tricky but increased traffic would be a great incentive. The game and coupon aspect should be very enticing to users.

    • Mario L Castellanos - July 5, 2022 at 8:24 pm

      I think so as well, thank you. And yes, it’s a new concept for SMB’s. In addition, users/players will receive logoed “status level” (denoted by color and determined by amount of gameplays played) shirts to wear while playing, and perhaps *insignia pins or similar indicating the difficulty of games played (*in concept stage).

  2. Tim Strege - July 4, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    Wow! Mario has obviously put a lot of thought into Mystery on Main Street. I have often thought of retail storefronts as having three types of customers: 1) those who live and shop in the neighborhood; 2) those who travel the street but life elsewhere; and 3) those who do not live or normally travel the area but are attracted to the store for a special purpose. MoMS has something for all three customer segments. Familiar shoppers will want to “dig deeper” into retail offerings, the commuter folks will have a reason to stop on their way traffic route, and the “something special” adventure seekers will enjoy the interaction in a game like situation. One major ingredient to this success will be the cooperation of local business operators, chambers of commerce, Main Street advocates and civic boosters. Required will be sustained support, evolving creative search topics, pleasurable rewards (in addition to just the fun that monkeyshine players have enjoyed) and a desire for an increased sense of community.

  3. Trudi Hamer - July 6, 2022 at 10:01 am

    Such an original idea – it responds directly to lack of footfall in local areas. I agree with the comments above and wondered if you had thought about a group approach in briefing local businesses to get then on-board?

    • Mario L Castellanos - July 7, 2022 at 11:39 am

      Thank you. Yes, approaching local business groups (Chambers, local business/merchant associations, redevelopment authorities, etc.) will be a key focus. In fact, I already have approached many throughout the US and they are just chomping at the bit in anticipation!

  4. Richard John - July 6, 2022 at 11:18 am

    What a clever idea. A pilot would be worth trying, with a switched-on local council or Regional Development Agency coming on board

    • Mario L Castellanos - July 7, 2022 at 11:52 am

      Thank you and agreed. The plan is to have approximately 5 to 10 no-cost pilot sites around the US and Canada to demonstrate proof of concept. In each case, a local council, RDA’s, other local business groups, etc., will be approached to partner with MoMS. The benefit to them is they’ll receive free local publicity by having their name as a co-sponsor on the poster in every participating merchant plus, the benefit of participating in a cause for community good. Our benefit will be access to their member lists who will be invited to participate and or play. All this hoopla as it were, will surely generate the local and more than likely, the national publicity that has been planned within the business model.

  5. Simon Krystman - July 12, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Mario, please could you upload your Canvas and Customer Persona’s

  6. Leo Khin - July 21, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    I mentored two similar startup called Gratii, founded by a guy named Brian Feldman, back in 2013/2014, and FullSociety (rebranded Go-tab) by Paige Soya, 2013-2015. The gamification concept to drive user engagement has been around a bit now, and I know a few startups in the Mid-Atlantic region of America that have attempted gamification social/ advertising apps, sadly not many companies have broken through on how to drive it to critical mass. Would definitely love to learn a bit more about this idea to see in depth where your heads at for how it would work. Feel free to check out those two startups, I think Gratii is now defunct, but last I spoke with Paige she had raised 2M in capital. I think there is validity in the space, but it’s definitely ripe with minefields and 100% validation is tricky anytime social interaction is a factor.

    I’m rooting for you though, nothing like phone games during a bar-crawl with friends. xD

    • Mario L Castellanos - July 21, 2022 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you for your input! Unfortunately, I did take a thorough look at both and their concepts are quite different. Gratti is/was essentially a bidding app using virtual money, while Go-Tab is basically, an online ordering system focused on restaurants. I was hoping for some similarity as it would be further proof of Mystery on Main Street’s viability. May I suggest you read review my included supporting document, “Mystery on Main Street – Business Summary”, and specifically the section marked, “Gameplay”. I’m sure you’ll get a clearer picture of how it works and its benefits.

    • Mario L Castellanos - July 21, 2022 at 8:26 pm

      Separately, if you are still in contact with Brian Feldman, let him know he built something before its time. If I were he, I would immediately take that app and pivot to the NFT market. His app seems perfect for that.

  7. Mark Cardwell - September 2, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    I love the idea, but you’ll want to test what retailers are prepared to pay for it. What you can offering is the presence, for a short time, of a potential but unmotivated customer – they’re not there with the intention of buying. It’s great for food and drink outlets. It’s possibly good for small impulse-buys. But there’s maybe not much benefit in bringing a stream of people into a furniture store or a jeweller’s.

    • Mario L Castellanos - September 2, 2022 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. To your first point, the fee will be exceptionally low at US$100.00 per gameplay, and will be structured to last 3 – 4 weeks, meaning this locale will have worldwide exposure for everyone that has the app. Compare that with a local ad in a publication which typically cost around $250.00 for a 1/4 page or Facebook and Google ad campaigns costing slightly more, that target just local.

      To your second point, chances are, they are most certainly visiting the location with the intention to buy. I’ll explain. Gameplays will consist of dozens upon dozens of local establishments that are participating. That means there will be a variety of merchants and businesses offering a variety of products and services. In other words, the stores that offer womens garments, plants, pet supplies, and house goods may not interest you on that particular outing, but, “Hey – look at this! There are three mens shoes stores here I didn’t even know existed and two of them specialize in sportswear, and I need me a nice new pair of futballers!” Or the jeweler because an anniversary is around the corner, or the furniture store specializing in the eclectic, you weren’t aware of. Plus, there will be those who do see the value and plan to vacation in a month. So why not look for merchants that are in that vacation location in the process! On top of this, we’ll work with these merchants and eateries on marketing strategies that will further incentivize with efforts such as coupons, discounts, freebies, etc.

      We all want to know and learn about what’s out there. MoMS does that, and incentivizes with cash and prizes in the process.

  8. Mark Cardwell - September 11, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    You mentioned in your presentation that selling the customer behaviour data is important – however since your users are visiting a store because of the game, won’t that distort the data? Wouldn’t customer behaviour be different when they aren’t playing the game?

    • Mario L Castellanos - September 11, 2022 at 3:26 pm

      It’s that specific data of when they are visiting, that is important. For example, let’s say a considerable number (ex: 30%) of a particular demographic (woman 25 – 35 y/o) have chosen to visit a particular type of vendor (shoe store) on a particular day and time (Thursday evenings) demonstrating a consistency (data denotes similar results every Thursday evening). This will be highly valuable to my first and my secondary target market – brands (Keds, Nike, Victoria’s Secrets, Ulta Beauty, etc.), because the data demonstrates this is the best timing to reach this particular demographic directly. Furthermore, if that brand has a retail location, the data will prove correct when the gameplayer visits that brand’s locale because of an ad campaign created from the game data. So to answer your question, just like every other company, there truly is no way of knowing the behavior of an individual when they are out and about or when they’re not playing. But my focus (and data) is on when they are, and MoMS will have that (importantly) WITHOUT a need to know who they are.