I saw Josh Babetski standing around charging his cell phone from a mysterious white wire that led into his messenger bag at the Tech Cocktail’s SXSW Startup Celebration sponsored by CEA and .CO at the Stage on Sixth in SXSW. I was interested and asked how he was charging his phone. He said it was a pretty intense battery that could charge his phone about three times before needing a reboot. Cool. I decided to take some advice from a previous interview and get the ball rolling by asking what he did. Oh boy did I ask a loaded question. HAHA In a good way. I talked to Josh for about an hour in the midst of a busy cocktail party, but I was more interested by this conversation than following around the madness that ignites after dark in Austin.
Josh created Collective Detective, a site for online mysteries and scavenger hunts. This idea came about over 10 years ago, when the Internet was a bit younger. Josh made this online community for people all over the world to work on puzzles together, solving piece by piece- either alone or with others.
Josh called this type of thinking “Hive mind,” more commonly known as brainstorming. You may have such a random collection of puzzle solvers working together like a lawyer in New York, a physicist from Norway, a stay-at-home mom from Chicago and an athlete from Spain all giving each other hints on the botany of a certain plant. It could take days or weeks to solve some of these problems. This was the perfect icebreaker to connect people from different backgrounds that would probably not meet or interact in real life, together as a team of thinkers.
Josh really enjoyed seeing those serendipity connections evolve, but eventually he realized Collective Detective, was more of a side project and wouldn’t be it’s own business. After 2005, Josh did marketing consultations for companies to build better experiences and continue to grow these communities with Interactive adventures. One example was for BMW, where they gave away prizes in similar scavenger hunt format. Josh made their story more successful and more memorable to the customers. Now he is working on next new startup, so we’ll have to check back with Josh to see what he’s up to next!
So Josh, you not only seem like a veteran at SXSW, but also in the startup world. What advice can you give other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Technology changes so fast. Make sure to solve a real problem. Look for an existing space you can disrupt. Too many people are building “me too things” like the newest Instagram for puppies. If you can solve a problem or find that you have a better idea for something that exists, you have a better chance of being successful. Good luck!