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SURCH is the first-ever photo race where one skillful player wins $10,000. The game is played on specific dates in various cities, bringing together friends, students, families and neighbors in a one-of-a-kind photo scavenger hunt competition. SURCH requires players to take five carefully selected pictures of their city, the first one to successfully match all five pictures receiving the grand prize. Released in fall of 2017 the app is free to download and play with opportunities to play for the grand prize or just for fun.
The SURCH Story
The SURCH story began a few decades ago in a small town in Maryland.
“When I was a kid, I used to enter puzzle contests in music magazines that I read.” said Founder Steve Lowe reflecting on the earliest days of his curiosity with interactive puzzles. “The first puzzle was published in an ad in the magazine and it was pretty easy. Actually, really easy. I would solve the puzzle and mail it with a few bucks to the contest people and they would send me the next puzzle. There were five puzzles total and each puzzled got harder and the last one was darn near impossible. But if I solved it, I’d win a $50,000 recording studio package. My dreams would come true.”
Steve never won.
But the desire to beat the game continued. “In the town where I live, there’s an old water tower that strangely resembles what you’d get if a rocket ship and the Tin Man had a baby,” Steve reflect. “About ten years ago, I had an idea for a fundraiser for the church I started. Borrowing from my childhood puzzle quest, I imagined a contest where people would race to find and take five pictures around town. We’d publish the first one in the newspaper. It would be an easily recognizable landmark: The Tin Man Spaceship! Everybody would know exactly where it was. The ad would and tell people to find it, snap a picture of it with their digital camera, mail, email or fax the picture, mail a small check to our church and then we’d send them a picture of the next picture they needed to find. This would go on for three more rounds and whoever found the last picture first would win a bunch of money and our church could buy a piano.”
Needless to say, Steve’s idea was limited by the available technology of the time: Newspapers, faxes, mail, email, checks, more mail. In other words, an administrative cluster. And not to mention all the clever ways one could cheat at the game.
Steve soon moved on to better ideas like Easter egg hunts with 20,000 Easter eggs.
In February of 2016, Steve drove by that rocket ship water tower and recalled the half-baked idea from a decade prior. “Suddenly I realized everything we couldn’t do back then we could now do with any smartphone. I mentioned the idea to my current business partners and my brother and we immediacy started working on game models, building an app and hiring lawyers to tell us if this was even legal.”
Twenty different versions of the game were fleshed out. With each version, SURCH became more fun and sometimes less legal. “Finally on Version 21 we hit the sweet spot. SURCH is unlike anything ever done before. It’s an adventure, a contest, a race, a way for cities and towns to shine, and a chance to win cold, hard cash. The app is gorgeous and the lawyers are happy.”
And so a quest to conquer the puzzle monster now comes to a close for Steve with the release of SURCH. Or is it really just beginning? #SURCHon!
About the Founder, Steve Lowe
Steve Lowe is a serial entrepreneur, designer, videographer, sort-of-musician, non-dancer, and ideator who also makes up words. “I love start-ups, especially the ones that change the world,” says the Maryland resident who can be found promoting the new SURCH app or trying to find the perfect wine to pair with a great idea. Or exotic beef jerky. Before founding SURCH, Steve launched several businesses and organizations including Westminster-based creative agency, 127 Creative, The Holiday Cupcake Company, Muffin Bomb and The Journey Church Community. A Maryland native, Steve grew up in Granite, MD and after starting and later selling a successful landscape company in his early 20s, took a hiatus from college. Five companies and a decade or so later, Steve is still on that hiatus. Follow Steve on Twitter @steveclowe