Whenever I hear a sentence involving the words “campus” and “engagements” one thing immediately comes to mind—and it’s not accidental pregnancy. CampusLive creates “challenges” that encourage college students across the United States take a quiz, participate in a raffle, or complete a task in order to win real-life prizes. Think of it as a site that is dedicated to those fun “shoot the monkey three times and win an iPad” banner ads, except catered to college students (not that shooting virtual monkeys isn’t appealing to a college student) with bona fide prizes and big-name sponsorships.
Beginning life as a homepage for college students, CampusLive underwent a series of pivots to get to the point that it’s at now. First the team deployed video chatting capabilities but found that they couldn’t make the technology scale so they canned the feature and went back to the drawing board. The current iteration of the site began with a simple, McDonald’s-sponsored raffle that brought in huge amounts of traffic and received a mass of positive feedback. Corporate-sponsored challenges quickly became the focus of the site, drawing the attention of companies like Microsoft, AT&T, and more.
CEO Boris Revsin is quick to point out that for many of CampusLive’s users, the prizes aren’t the main draw; it’s all about the content that they’re creating with their challenges. The formula works, as the company has grown to 300,000 users that engage with 800,000 challenges per month. Once a person signs up for CampusLive, they tend to stick with the service and kill a little bit of time with some challenges; the prizes are just a nice bonus.
CampusLive is free for its users, and Revsin says that the company doesn’t make any money off of advertising impressions. Instead, the company is paid per engagement with a sponsored event; say, AT&T sponsoring a challenge that may involve retweeting the deal or forking over an email address. Every time a user does that, CampusLive makes money off of the sponsor.
What makes CampusLive’s users more likely to engage with a brand than they might be with, say, mobile ads? A large part of the equation is trust. Because CampusLive is focused on creating quality, relevant content, its users are more likely to interact with a challenge that asks them to engage with a brand; this trust has led to 40% of CampusLive users engaging with a brand instead of skipping over that optional step.
CampusLive is currently in 850 college campuses around the United States, and the company is looking to expand even further, pushing outside of the college campus into the popular eye. This push would require a rebranding and more funding, which the company is pushing for in a new Series B funding round that would add to the $3.5 million that the company has raised to date from investing firms Charles River Ventures and Highland Capital Partners.
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