KEO Marketing


Building Empathy Challenge

Create a way that allows people to “try on another person’s life” for at least two hours

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


Challenge Overview

The Vision

In the Building Empathy Challenge, competitors will be asked to design an app to allow users to “try on another person’s life” for at least two hours. Leveraging gamification, augmented or virtual reality, assessments or other means, competitors will design an experience by which the user experiences life as the person they are standing in as. The Empathy App will have an addictive, viral feel. People will be compelled to try on another person’s life – perhaps celebrities at first, and then a homeless person, and then a dissident in Syria. The application will leverage the most advanced entertainment, gaming and reality experiences to compel participants to participate. They will experience social situations, work situations and daily life situations of the person they are experiencing. They will be treated as the other person is commonly treated. They will experience the thoughts, beliefs, and fears of the other person. They will truly walk in their shoes. Before and after surveys and testing will measure their level of empathy for the other person.



Empathy: The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another, either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience clearly communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

The world is more polarized than ever. A rise of nationalism or focusing on one’s community at the expense of others, has overtaken the world, from BREXIT in the UK to the election of Donald Trump in the US and to the more than 65 countries have erected fences on their borders. Some have asked how, in this globally connected world, would people choose to shut borders, build walls and cut themselves off from others?

People are scared and don’t just strongly disagree with each other these days; we seem to strongly dislike each other. Spurred on by the rise of social media, people are increasingly associating only with others who support their worldview. It is entirely possible to go through one’s day and see and experience messages that only support their personal beliefs.

If polarization is on the rise and this tribalism is causing division, disgust, and hate in the world, then it is essential for us to seek new ways to connect and understand others.


About the Sponsor

Sheila Kloefkorn, CEO of KEO Marketing, has a personal interest in increasing global empathy by leveraging immersive, cutting edge technological experiences to empower the public with exposure and new perspectives. Sheila believes that empathy is an essential component of human society. She believes the experience of “walking in another person’s shoes” is the foundation for developing empathy.

“Empathy moves us to share in another’s pain, to really see the world through their eyes. When we do, it very often changes the kind of decisions and actions we take. When empathy is in full bloom, many things change, and it becomes almost impossible not to help.” - David R. Hamilton Ph.D.


Challenge Guidelines

The Prize

KEO Marketing is committed to awarding up to $10,000 in overall prize money:

  • Grand Winner: $6,000*
  • Second Place Finalist: $2,000
  • Third Place Finalist: $1,500
  • Crowd Vote Winner: $500


Prize Structure

Design Round

  • Competitors will thoroughly and thoughtfully address all Submission Form questions to the best of their ability.
  • Competitors have the option of uploading supporting documents, video links or sketches of their app design concept.
  • All applications will enter a Crowd Voting Phase following the Submission Deadline.

*Following the competition, KEO Marketing may extend an optional Commercial Contract to the winner (in addition to the cash prize) to develop the full platform, pending a mutual agreement between the two parties.



You can view the full Timeline for the challenge here


How Do I Win?

We need you to submit a proposal, telling us how this app will work and what it will look like. You get to be the designer - tell us how content will be contributed and filtered, tell us how users will experience the content, tell us how the data should flow, and tell us how we should make the app engaging and fun for users.


To be eligible for an award, your proposal must include a:

  1. Completed Submission Form
  2. Project Plan*
  3. Wireframe or Flowchart *
  4. Optional UI Style Guide*
  5. Optional Information Architecture*


Competitors will be asked questions to help the Sponsor gain theoretical design ideas for the purpose of future product development. Submission Form questions include:

  • How will content be contributed to the app?
  • How will users’ empathy levels be assessed before/after the experience?
  • How is your app immersive for the user?
  • How will users experience the app content?
  • What gamification strategies have you implemented into your design in order to establish an addictive quality, to ensure user attraction and retention?
  • How will your app ensure no content is uploaded that is negative, inflammatory or biased?
  • What device(s) is your app compatible on?
  • What platform(s) is your app compatible with? iOS, Android, etc
  • What hardware is required in order to experience your app?
  • What software is required in order to experience your app?
  • What analytics tools will you integrate in order to track user attraction, retention and engagement? Why did you select this tool?
  • What is your internal process for quality assurance once an app is complete?


*Project Plans may include a list of milestones, or app features to be developed in phases according to a timeline and budget.

*Wireframes are visuals, screenshots, or flowchart sketches to provide visual examples of how the app will look. Visuals may include a login screen, splash page, home page, user profile, or any screen necessary to convey user experience. Popular wireframing tools are: Fluid UI, InVision, and Balsamiq, but feel free to use your favorite tool of choice.

*Style Guides provide guidance on front-end user interface design elements such as typography and color palette. Find inspiration here to create your own Style Guide!

*Information Architectures look like this. The purpose is to organize the apps information, label it, and determine how it will flow.

All additional proposal elements can be submitted as attachments or links within the Submission Form. Details can be found by clicking “Accept Challenge.”


Judging Criteria

Empathetic (20 points): Does the submission convey a clear understanding of the mission of the app? Do the proposed app functionality and features facilitate a platform that allows user empathy to be assessed before and after experiences?

Immersive (20 points): Does the submission enable a user experience that is fully immersive?

Addictive (20 points): Has the competitor proposed significant gamification strategies in order to attract and retain an engaged user base? Are there substantive design or functionality elements included in the proposal that are aimed at user engagement?

Adoptable (20 points): How easily adoptable is the proposed technology? Is the app smartphone compatible?  Will users need to purchase software or additional hardware equipment in order to access the app? All proposed hardware must be commercially available for purchase.

Feasible (20 points): Is the overall proposal according to a well-reasoned plan for implementation? Are all proposed figures and estimates justifiably accurate?

  • Note: In order to win, a competitor does not need to have all resources or experience to be able to develop the full product proposed. The purpose of this challenge is to gain theoretical write ups or ideas for how the app/game will be designed.



Participation Eligibility:

The challenge is open to all adult individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Teams may originate from any country. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.

No specific qualifications or expertise in the field of empathy, virtual or augmented reality, or app development is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement


Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the website, on or before 4:59 pm Eastern Time on June 1st, 2018. All uploads must be in PDF format. No late submissions will be accepted.


Intellectual Property Rights:

Innovator will retain all intellectual property rights to their technology. The Sponsor will require the Innovator to share a license to the intellectual property contained in the Submission. This allows both the Innovator and Sponsor to independently use the intellectual property for their own use.


Selection of Winners:

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the Judging Criteria section above. In the case of a tie, the winner(s) will be selected based on the highest votes from the Judges.

In the case of no winner, KEO Marketing reserves the right to withhold the Prize amount. In place of the original prize amount, KEO Marketing may issue a Consolation Prize to the team or individual closest to the winning solution.


Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by industry experts in gaming, social psychology, empathy and other related fields.


Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.
Updates 9

Challenge Updates

Deadline Extended!

June 1, 2018, 1:30 p.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell

Hi everyone,

I’m writing to announce that the deadline for the Building Empathy Challenge has been extended to next Friday, June 8th at 2pm PST / 5pm EST! You now have until that time to register and submit your proposal or make any edits to your current submission.

Need help submitting? Watch our how to video here:

Should you have any questions or run into any technical issues, you can contact the HeroX team at

No additional extensions will be offered, so please submit on time to be eligible to win the award!

8 Hours Remaining to Submit!

June 1, 2018, 5:59 a.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

If you're still assembling your submission, you have exactly 8 hours left to complete it!

Here's a Tip: HeroX recommends innovators plan to submit with at least a 3-hour window of time before the true deadline. Last-minute technical problems and unforeseen roadblocks have been the cause of many headaches. Don't let that be you!

Two Day Warning

May 30, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

This is your official two-day reminder!

That's right, the Building Empathy Challenge will be closing this coming June 1st at 4:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA).

Please be sure to complete your submission form well before the exact cut-off time.

At exactly 4:59 pm ET, we can no longer accept new submissions!

Got questions?

Now is the time to speak up! Comment directly on this update with any questions about the submission process and we'll get back to you right away!

Empathy Challenges Judges

May 29, 2018, midnight PDT by KEO Marketing

We are proud to announce our Empathy Challenge judges for this concept phase:


David Blankenhorn

David Blankenhorn is the founder and president of Better Angels, a nonpartisan network of scholars and leaders whose vision is to reunite America. Before founding Better Angels, David was the president of the Institute for American Values, a think focusing on civil society that he founded in 1988. Prior to that time, he worked as a community organizer in Massachusetts and Virginia.


Steve Holm

Steve Holm, served at Desert Cross Lutheran Church, Tempe, for 22 years. He is also board chair of Horizon Learning Centers.


Sheila Kloefkorn

Sheila Kloefkorn, CEO/President of KEO Marketing, Inc, is a business and marketing expert who helps companies increase leads and revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars. Sheila was recently named one of the “Top 10 Business Leaders of the Year”, “Top 25 Dynamic Women in Business” by the Phoenix Business Journal. She is a certified business coach and frequent national and local speaker on a wide range of marketing, diversity and business topics.

Miriam Weisman

Miriam Weisman is a national leader with the Anti-Defamation League, and has served as board chair, education committee chair, and national chair of education. She is an anti-bias facilitator for ADL and GLSEN.

Five Days Left to Submit (TIPS)

May 27, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

We are quickly approaching the final days open for submission to the Building Empathy Challenge. The deadline is June 1st at 4:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA.)

Here are a couple of last-minute tips for a smooth entry process:

1. Begin your submission process several days before the cutoff time. This allows you to ensure everything you have been working on can be seamlessly integrated into the form.

2. Your submission will not be reviewed until you click the orange "Submit Entry" button at the top of the final review page. Please remember to do this!

3. Review the Challenge Guidelines to ensure your submission is complete. Pay particular attention to the judging criteria which will be the scorecard used to evaluate your entry.

4. Have any questions? Head over to the challenge forum and we would love to help you out.

Thanks so much, and good luck to all!

Forum 5
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