Experience City’s Fun Features with Entrepreneurs’ App Called Kwest

Kwest app students

Andrew Brown and Omeed Shams, graduate students in innovation and entrepreneurship, developed Kwest, a free app that takes its users on a digital scavenger hunt/guided tour of neighborhoods.

Two UT Dallas business school graduate students have developed an app that helps people interactively explore popular neighborhoods in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Omeed Shams and Andrew Brown, graduate students in innovation and entrepreneurship, developed Kwest in fall 2014. The app, which can be downloaded in the App Store, uses riddles, puzzles and games to guide people through neighborhoods such as Dallas’ Bishop Arts District, Uptown, Deep Ellum and even attractions like the Dallas Zoo. 

“It’s a better way to explore the city using a game platform,” Shams said.

The students met when Brown pitched the idea for Kwest through the Startup Launch program at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. The program’s graduate-level courses help students develop, refine and evaluate business concepts before taking them to the marketplace. 

Shams, who had worked for years in his family’s software business, signed on to develop the app that would flesh out Brown’s brainchild.

“I loved the idea,” Shams said. “I thought I could bring it to life with my technical background.”

Basically the game platform launches users onto an interactive adventure — sort of a combination digital scavenger hunt and guided tour.

Shams and Brown developed a paper-based mock-up of the game, tried it out with UT Dallas students and then built the platform last fall. Brown has since left the day-to-day operations of Kwest to focus on social entrepreneurship projects.

Meanwhile, Shams is helping organize a real-life version of Kwest from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at the 5-acre Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas. Attendees will be able to embark on scavenger hunts through 15 “pop-up” neighborhoods in Dallas, and vendors will provide samples and products for free.

Kwest app on phone

The app uses riddles, puzzles and games to guide people through locations.

Called Kwestival, the free festival will allow attendees to meet restaurateurs from Bishop Arts, painters from the Design District, brewers from Deep Ellum or bar owners from Uptown. Event organizer Lauren Lee, owner of Three Twelve Co., hopes to also include performances from local musicians.

Attendees will be encouraged to use the Kwest app at the Kwestival to find extra scavenger hunt items and free or discounted food and drinks. But using the app is not required.

For now, the free app is available only in the App Store. Merchants, restaurants and businesses can advertise and partner, Shams said.

Shams wants to continue using what he’s learned in his innovation and entrepreneur classes. Among his further innovations for the Kwest app are more storylines and levels of the games, badges for the app’s users and opportunities to unlock discounts from merchants and receive rewards and prizes. He also plans to develop cooperative and competitive experiences for social meet-ups, and to offer Kwest Plus, a paid-for curated night on the town.

“It will take the planning out of a date night,” Shams said.

Besides helping users explore neighborhoods, Shams also wants to develop Kwest experiences for specific attractions such as the State Fair, Perot Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art. He also hopes to expand Kwest into 25 cities over the next three years through a model that recruits “Kwestperts” to compose the content.

“Imagine having a Kwest experience to help you explore Times Square in New York City,” Shams said.

Digital Scavenger Hunt with Kwest at the Jindal School

The Naveen Jindal School of Management has teamed up with Kwest for a digital scavenger hunt using the app. For more information — including how to participate and prizes — visit the Comet Calendar

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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