Plenty of retailers have leveraged user-generated content (e.g., customer photos and videos) from contests and promotions in branded marketing campaigns before, but not quite like Sears just did. The company's Startup + Developer Challenge, held this past summer, was a "code-a-thon" designed to find the best and brightest minds in the tech community of Silicon Valley — and then use those minds to Sears’ benefit.
Here's how the program worked: Participants competed over three days for the chance to have their technology application brought to life by Sears. Developers and startup companies created web and mobile commerce, mapping, gaming and CRM solutions, among others, for a chance to win more than $50,000 in awards from Sears and participating sponsors.
Each team presented their app solution to a panel of nine judges, which included Sears Holdings’ CIO of online business, its divisional vice president and its general manager, the senior vice president of emerging media at Universal McCann Worldwide, and the startup liaison officer for Rackspace. Judges evaluated the apps based on four criteria: use of Sears’ APIs, ability to drive traffic to a mobile site, ability to drive traffic to a brick-and-mortar store, and the user experience.
Forty-one teams and more than 150 participants competed during the weekend-long event. Team Omega Ortega developed the grand prize-winning app, The Chore Score, and received a test budget from Sears. The app was developed as a fun way to incentivize children to do their chores. With their parents’ guidance, kids can set up a chore list, track their progress and earn rewards for doing their chores. The rewards can be redeemed within the app either online or in-store.
"We came to the Startup + Developer Challenge with a desire to build something that successfully drives engagement and sales for Sears," said Team Omega Ortega Founder Tom Ortega, in a Sears' press release. "After hearing from the Sears' team, we came up with the app idea on Saturday morning. Our small team was then able to execute on this idea in under 36 hours. Building mobile apps quickly is what we do."