Go on a treasure hunt with the Totemus app
- Founders: Benjamin Pirson
- Founded: 2020
- Employees: 5
- Amounts raised: –
- Ultimate objective: continue to develop the start-up in Flanders
The hike is fun. But especially if you’re hiking with kids, it’s even more fun when you’re trying to find something. Especially if you also manage to find treasure. The Belgian start-up Totemus has developed a very practical application for this. For this episode of today’s start-ups, Innovation Origins spoke with Benjamin Pirson, founder of Totemus.
What is Totemus?
“Totemus is a mobile application that helps users discover the heritage of our Belgian regions through a network of treasure hunts. It’s a mixture of treasure hunting and geocaching. The app is now available in four languages.
Some games are played along the way. How does this work in practice?
“The routes are not known in advance. You have to solve puzzles to get from one tourist spot to another and eventually to where the treasure is hidden. These are supposedly Toteez – the application’s virtual currency. You can redeem Toteez for vouchers redeemable at Totemus partner tourist attractions. By combining different treasure hunts, visitors can win themed rewards badges (agriculture, street art, castles, etc.) to earn more Toteez. Totemus transforms spaces into playful playgrounds accessible to all and energizes the local tourist ecosystem.
How did you imagine the treasure hunts?
“The treasure hunts were designed in collaboration with tourism and education players. They offer an innovative digital way to promote the rich Belgian cultural heritage. Anyone can use the app and explore a particular area or region in a fun way. For the sectors themselves, this is an opportunity to digitize their offer, without having to invest in the costly development of a full-fledged application.
“The treasure hunts were designed in collaboration with tourism and education players. It is enough for tourist agencies and schools to propose a treasure hunt route. The Totemus team brings its expertise when it comes to charting a course of adventure, fun and learning. Between scouting locations and finally testing the route, it only takes four weeks to design a new treasure hunt and make it available to the entire Totemus community.
The app has gained popularity thanks to the whole corona crisis. How did it happen?
“Totemus was originally a side project. We worked on it in our free time, in addition to our business where we develop websites. The corona crisis has forced many people to change the way they spend their free time. This is how, quite unexpectedly, the application became popular with the general public. This led me to create a new start-up dedicated 100% to the development of Totemus. Today, we are working full time on this project which combines innovation and sustainable tourism. It is a challenge that we take up every day, with the support of Run it @KBCthe largest start-up accelerator in the country.
Do you also have projects for Flanders?
“Since its launch in July 2020, 2 years ago, already more than 100 treasure hunts are available on the application which has been consulted by more than 235,000 visitors. Building on this success and in order to meet the growing demand from users, we want to develop just as strongly in Flanders. We hope to be able to offer around 50 treasure hunts in the region by the end of 2023.”
Totemus, which has been operating for two years in the five Walloon provinces and in Brussels, crosses the linguistic border to offer digital treasure hunts in the Flemish part of Belgium. To do this, the application moved to Wezembeek-Oppem in Flemish Brabant. The initiative for this first experiment in the north of the country came from 6th grade students from the French-speaking municipal school La Fermette, who imagined a walking route aimed at discovering the cultural richness of the city. Some areas are thus transformed into a fun playground »