Left to right: Dylan Barbour and Sam Pantazopoulos, founders of Vizer. Photo courtesy of Vizer
Ever imagined converting your exercise into a meal donation? The app Vizer is here to bring this idea to life, feeding thousands nationwide with just a click of a button. Every month, 350,000 are fed due to collaborations with food banks, beginning in San Diego. Founder, Samantha Pantazopoulos, initiated the app with her cousin Dylan Barbour, who is not only co-founder but also Chief Growth Officer. The two now lead a team of 15 with over a million users across the country.
Vizer was officially launched in January of 2019, and even though it has been in the market for relatively little time, it has already fed more than 2.9 million people. When it started, the app was exclusive to San Diego but has now expanded across the United States.
How did it all begin? Sam Pantazopoulos and Dylan Barbour sat down with TNH talking about their journey with Vizer.
“It goes back to 2015. I was studying abroad in college on a program called Semester at Sea,” she told TNH, adding, “we were participating in a social venture incubator, and the question was, ‘how could you use business to solve a social problem that you personally identify with?’ For me, I hated working out, so the question was, what would motivate me to do so?”
She came up with the loop of being able to give back and earn healthy food products for herself, like food rewards. All she needed was a partner, and the first person she spoke to regarding the idea was Dylan.
“I loved the idea. At first, I was trying to figure out why it wouldn’t work, but by the end our two-hour conversation, I knew we had to do this. I quit my job and moved out a week later,” he stated.
Sam added, “when Dylan and I decided to collaborate, neither of us had a tight background – it was more talking to people. We would just go round town and meet with anybody that would talk to us, saying ‘hey this is what we’re trying to build, do you have any experience? Do you know any people who would be interested in signing up? Could you make any connections for us?”
With the idea executed and the vision brought to life, the Vizer app was born, rewarding people for being active by donating a meal to those in need through local food banks. It also allows people to earn credits that can be redeemed for items at local businesses. The experience is rather simple – that’s the way the duo want people to experience it.
Users may download the app on their iPhone or Android, create an account, and then accomplish the daily goal by either walking 10,000 steps or exercising for 30 minutes. Once one of the two fitness goals is achieved, users can then press on “donate meal.” Following this step will lead to a brand Vizer has partnered with to donate meals locally, on the user’s behalf. In addition to meal donations, users receive a point that can be redeemed at a select businesses.
Sam and Dylan aimed at expanding outside San Diego, but COVID-19 had entered the game.
“We worked with a lot of restaurants and studios, but most of them closed overnight. So, we ended up introducing the app so people could work out and donate from anywhere, and before you knew it, from 20,000 it rocketed to 100,000, and then to 1 million just because it was nationally available. People who wanted to get their friends and family involved could do so as it wasn’t restricted to one city anymore,” Sam said.
Besides restaurants, users will soon be able to redeem their points with retailers. The two have been working on this project for three years and will finally be launching the retail part in mid-June.
As for their future goals as a brand, the focus is availability and accessibility.
Ending the conversation, Sam mentioned, “we want to make sure that we can make it count, growing our impact, investing in communities, and then also with the rewards, being able to redeem anywhere that you are. The more accessible it is, the more beneficial to everyone.”
The Greek dynamic duo from Sparta and Vourvoura, a village in Arcadia, Greece, is making a change for a future filled with both health and compassion.
“Wellness as a whole has become more globally present, and everybody is more conscious about what they put in their body; the stress, how often they move, sleep, etc., and that has opened up the door towards wellness becoming more of a universal language, so expanding on a global scale is a super attainable goal,” Dylan noted.
Vizer is available for all mobile devices in your app store.
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