A trivia app is handing cash to USC students. Where is this money coming from?

Trivia with TapTap gives people the chance to have fun, flex their knowledge and win money

Screenshot of a graphic showing a phone with a notification that there is 5 minutes until age time

Meet USC’s newest app: TapTap, a live trivia app that allows USC students to compete and win cash prizes. Since it launched in late August, there has been a growing number of students across campus who have been dropping everything to answer a series of 10 trivia questions every day at 5 p.m.

Students have eight seconds to answer questions in various categories: campus life, sports, science, business, music, art, food, history, math, geography and pop culture. If they get all 10 questions correct, they win a portion of a cash prize pool that is split among all the winners and sent through Venmo.

Each day’s total prize pool is usually $100, but others have been as high as $200 with individual prizes ranging from $5 to $25 depending on the number of winners.

Katie Crimmins, a sophomore studying business administration says she “plans on playing every day,” as she utilizes the app as an easy and fun way to make some extra money.

“I first found out [about the game] when my friend was freaking out when it turned 5 p.m. and started playing,” Crimmins said. “Winning doesn’t seem that hard, and the money could add up fast each day.”

Other students like Sachin Patel, a sophomore studying business administration, have already started making money through the app. He said that out of the three times he has played the game, he has won once. His prize was about $5.

However, the amount of daily winners, along with the fact that TapTap is free to download, has led students to question how the app has been able to give out around $2000 in its first month of operation.

“I definitely have thought about where the money is coming from,” Crimmins said. “It doesn’t seem like TapTap’s questions are anything but general trivia questions, and the app doesn’t have embedded ads from what I have seen.”

Other students, like Patel, theorized that the money could be coming from investors.

“Honestly, I am not sure where they are getting money from,” he said. “It possibly could be from an investment before the app launched that they are using for the daily games. I have never seen an ad in the game.”

Gordon Sun and James Oldenburg, the CEO and COO of TapTap, shared their intentions behind the app and its operation.

TapTap currently consists of a team of four people who have previously worked at notable companies like Tesla, Amazon and Cameo. The reinvention of a game show on a digital platform was created to stand out in comparison to other apps and combat doom scrolling.

Instead of taking up hours of your time, they hope to generate conversations and bring people together through “bite-sized time.”

“People are just telling us, ‘This is the only five minutes per day where I can get my roommates to focus and just gather in the atrium or get in the lobby, get around, gather on my porch, and actually have fun.’”

Oldenburg feels that TapTap appeals to all students and helps to establish a sense of community.

“We think freshmen like this, too,” Oldenburg said. “They’re all hanging out in dorms, and it’s a great opportunity to play with your dorm mates or homies.”

Sun and Oldenburg further revealed that they have funded the prize money through fundraising venture capital from a variety of investors, including Wonder Ventures and angel investors. More notably, Mr. Beast’s Feastables Chocolate Company, Discord and Cameo have also backed the company in its fundraising efforts.

Regarding concerns over cheating, Oldenburg, who writes the trivia questions each day, shares that they are implementing a variety of tactics to prevent it.

The time to answer each question was cut from ten to eight seconds and new question formats that utilize graphics have been implemented to prevent students from looking up the answers.

Currently, the app is exclusive to USC and its students and alumni. Oldenburg and Sun feel that “there’s no cooler school than USC to start.” With close proximity to the app’s base in Los Angeles, paired with the well-rounded campus life of academics, sports, Greek life, clubs and diverse student body, TapTap is proud to claim USC as its starting point.

Moving forward, Sun and Oldenburg hope to launch the app in other LA schools and eventually go nationwide.

“I think in 12 months, we want to be in the top 100 schools in the U.S.,” Jacob said. “We’re going to start here in California [and] extend to schools like LMU, UCLA [and] Stanford.”