SCVNGR, one of the up-and-coming startups in the "check-in" application category has been on a roll lately. It has almost 500,000 users, is on track for reaching one million users by year-end, has integrated with Facebook Places, has launched a self-serve platform and has established partnerships with 1,000 businesses including Warner Bros., Sony, NatGeo, ZipCar, Journeys, Hot Topic, NE Patriots, Boston Celtics, NY Times, Boston Globe, and several universities. There are also 12,000 locations offering rewards to the app's users.
The new release, SCVNGR 3.5, is much more social. Users can now comment on their friends' check-ins and activity or even just dole out a "plus one" (+1), common Web shorthand for "I agree."
Another new feature is the "social map," which, like it sounds, maps your friends' check-ins on a map. The activity streams feature has also been updated, aggregating check-ins, pictures, badges, challenges and rewards into the stream together.
Finally, the updated version of SVNGR is better highlighting where you can find real-world rewards, one of the primary reasons users download and play apps like these. In the Places section, for example, businesses offering rewards display "REWARD" next to their entry. And a "Rewards Nearby" feature within the "Rewards" section will help you scout out deals. Meanwhile, the "My Rewards" feature lets you track your progress on achieving various rewards, which are given out after a certain number of points are reached.
But Can Anyone Beat Foursquare?
SCVNGR, a Google-backed venture, launched to consumers in May of this year under the direction of Seth Priebatsch, its 21-year-old CEO. Priebatsch created his first startup at the age of 12, and later launched SCVNGR as a college freshman. He's now on "leave-of-absence" from Princeton, managing a team of 60 at SCVNGR, a company whose most popular demographic is 17-31 year olds. As Foursquare is now doing with its university program and college-themed badges, SCVNGR is heavily involved in college outreach, working with over 350+ universities, offering ways to entice users to explore their campus.
Whether or not SCVNGR, or any check-in service for that matter, can catch up with Foursquare's lead at this point is debatable. Have you played SCVNGR? Tell us what you think in the comments.