Spotlight: Vivian Rosenthal

Meet the woman behind GoldRun: A successful, well-funded new-tech treasure hunt startup

Vivian Rosenthal, a marketing whiz with a master’s in architecture, has spent some 10 years churning out edgy installations, videos, and websites for clients like AT&T, Diesel, Target, and Nike as co-founder of design shop Tronic.

Now, she’s added a new line to her resume: CEO of the smartphone platform GoldRun. The startup—which landed $1.1 million in angel funding this month—uses GPS tracking to make reality a little more virtual, drawing users into treasure hunts for digital prizes. “Your city is the game board, and you’re the chess piece,” Rosenthal explains. “It’s all hyperlinked.”

How do you play? GoldRun places virtual objects at a specific location. Spot them through your phone’s viewfinder, snap a picture, and post it to Facebook. Or, maybe, earn a discount on a chosen product. But the Easter eggs can also lead users to tangible rewards. For Airwalk, GoldRun and Y&R turned outdoor skater hangouts into virtual storefronts for one day. Users could “find” exclusive digital sneakers, then buy the actual versions. Rosenthal sees it as a whole new way to reach consumers on the move. “Turning your life into a game is going to be a huge new landscape for marketers,” she says. “I’m more than betting on it.”