Message In A Bottle Starts Business

As Chris Akin explains his unusual company’s origins:

“After years of surfing with friends each Sunday, I was staring at the ocean one day hoping for something different to do the next weekend. I saw an old wine bottle drift ashore and an idea popped into my head – the ultimate treasure hunt. The hunt would engage people in new activities, push mental and physical limits, lead to unexplored parts of the city, and strengthen friendships.”

Thus was Treasure Hunts Hawaii born in 2004.

“When people go on our treasure hunts they are exposed to their backyards through a lens they never knew existed,” says the New York City native, who moved to the Islands 12 years ago. “We take them around familiar areas and show them details they’ve overlooked many times before.”

According to Akin, people have described the treasure hunts as a form of public art. He hopes that each participant walks away with a new spark of creativity.

“All of our events are customized in terms of geography and time,” he explains. “We run events from Waikiki to downtown to Haleiwa any day of the week. We have events that start as early as 6 a.m. and some that go late into the night.”

Treasure Hunts Hawaii caters to groups of various sizes, be it an intimate gathering of eight or a group of several hundred. Akin says the majority of participants are age 16 and older.

“Our events are unique on a few levels. The first distinguishing factor is that all of Treasure Hunt Hawaii hunts are customized for each specific group. We tailor the event to the group’s geographic location, goals, time frame and corporate culture,” Akin explains. “Second, our hunts incorporate our trifecta formula. The trifecta formula combines three elements of engagement.

“The foremost component of the race is the treasure hunt, which takes all participants from start to finish with a series of challenging clues. In addition to completing all clues, each team is tasked with accumulating unique scavenger items and completing fun trivia questions along the way. No individual can carry a team on their own; the multi-facetedness of the event requires full teamwork and collaboration.”

The average cost to participate in a hunt is $40 per person, and discounts are available for large groups. Akin makes certain not to hold hunts at any commercial establishments, such as retail stores or restaurants.

“My goal is that each clue is delivered in a unique format, hidden in a different type of location each time, and requires a different skill to answer,” he says.

Akin has plans of someday expanding Treasure Hunts Hawaii to the Mainland, specifically the East Coast. The business wants to extend its services to corporate clients visiting from the Mainland as well. To date, Akin says, the majority of events are for Hawaii-based organizations.

“The rewards of having my own business are building something of meaning, the amazing customer feedback and the freedom to pursue a creative endeavor without limits,” Akin says with a smile. “However, the biggest challenge in this business is helping some corporate clients get comfortable with trying something new and different. They may want to hire Treasure Hunts Hawaii and dabble in an out-of-the-box event, but it can be hard to break old patterns of hotel ballroom holiday parties, standard team-building events in conference rooms, etc.”

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