Xperiel, an experiential marketing startup with a focus on mobile, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing a $7 million round led by investors including several Google board members, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball and Sun Microsystems' co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.
Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Xperiel has built a platform called Real World Web that appears to be fluid enough to meet the tailored, real-life needs of marketers who want to enhance spaces with digital gamification. It's a Pokemon Go platform, of sorts, for events marketers.
One of its investors, the Dodgers, is an early tester of the company's services, while offering Los Angeles baseball fans the chance to go on scavenger hunts and solve virtual puzzles around the National League team's stadium in Chavez Ravine. Stadium patrons can also collect interactive, video-enabled trading cards that are updated daily with statistics and highlights.
All this, of course, is for smartphone users who wouldn't know Xperiel is there. Its platform is plugged into the MLB.com At Bat mobile app and evidently works seamlessly with iBeacons and QR codes around the stadium.
"One of the coolest things which Xperiel does that we've never seen before is that it unifies all of the technology in the stadium—the team's app, the ticket scans, point of sale systems, the big screen, the iBeacons—all into one system," Tucker Kain, L.A. Dodgers CFO, said. "In a sense, it lives in the gap between all of these technologies and makes it possible to build experiences for fans that span many of these previously siloed technologies. We think that it'll be these types of experiences and games that pull together a fan's app, the iBeacons, the big screen, etc. that will be the most popular."
Kain said his marketing sales team is already talking with brand partners to tie their presence into the gamification features. Think loyalty rewards and other offers from restaurant and souvenir merchants, he suggested. "These types of experiences drive engagement and can be used to incentivize fans in ways that haven't been possible before," the CFO added.
Alex Hertel, CEO of Xperiel, believes that other MLB teams could jump on board as soon as next year, which is quite believable since the pro baseball league is an investor. But he clearly sees a potential beyond just hardball.
"In our vision of the future, there will be no non-digital adventure," Hertel explained.
What's more, his system was built so tech novices can design real-world, Pokemon-like games in a manner of minutes. "You don't need to know how to use code," said Connie Tang, a lead designer at Xperiel, whom Hertel lured away from Google.
So in the meantime, are baseball fans ready for a little added gamification? Hey, it's a slow game that's designed for people to attentively keep score between every pitch.
"I think baseball is well suited for the type of digital experiences that Xperiel's technology facilitates," Kain said, "but you can also see this technology scaling well beyond just baseball or sports."