StartUp the Conversation: Are You A Human

July 02, 2013, 3:13 PM

A captcha, the enemy of Are You A Human

Are You A Human is a Detroit-based start up that re-imagines captchas, those pesky scrambled words that websites often ask users to type to verify their "humanness" and prevent spam. Are You A Human replaces captchas with short games.

StartUp The Conversation is an occasional series on Deadline Detroit that features local startups and small businesses. Deadline Detroit submits questions and businesses respond in writing.

What does Are You A Human do?
We’re a seven-person tech startup located in Detroit’s Madison Building. Our mission: to transform online annoyances into delightful experiences.

We started with CAPTCHA, the distorted text websites use to verify that their visitors are real people. Our replacement, PlayThru, is a series of simple mini-games that block bots without driving users crazy. Next up is a video overlay product that will allow users to skip pre-roll video — like the ads come before YouTube clips — by engaging with the same games.

Example games.

How will you know it's working?
We aim to achieve three goals. First, we want users to prefer interacting with PlayThru to CAPTCHA and other annoyances. Second, we want websites find our tools more effective than other options. And third, we want to be a compelling tool for advertisers, which happens when people who play our games remember our advertisers’ brands.

Based on this criteria, we’re doing pretty well. Data shows that people prefer us 50:1 over CAPTCHA, we’re more effective for websites than CAPTCHA and we work as a branding tool.

How will you make money?
For most websites, PlayThru is free to use. We make money by incorporating branding from our advertising partners into a selection of our games — for example, a game sponsored by clothing retailer Moosejaw asks users to drag fuzzy boots onto a pair of feet. It’s a win-win situation: advertisers get an ad unit that’s more effective than pop-ups or banners, and users get an experience that’s fun to interact with.

What change are you hoping your company brings about?
Our goal is to build a better online world. We won’t be satisfied until we’ve improved as many of the Internet’s niggling annoyances as we can.

Why Michigan?
Being part of the Detroit startup scene inspires and energizes us every day. We’ve got great digs in the Madison Bbuilding with some other awesome companies like UpTo, Stik, LevelEleven, and Chalkfly. Downtown is booming and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

Who are the brains behind the creation?
Are You a Human was founded by Tyler Paxton, Reid Tatoris and Ben Blackmer, who met at U of M’s Ross School of Business. Rounding up the rest of the team are Steve Burkett, Stuart VandenBrink, Adam Aleksa and Max Nussenbaum. Our website has a nifty Meet the Humans page with fun facts about the team.

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