move your body, donate a meal: q&a with dylan barbour of vizer
It’s no secret that finding the motivation to move our bodies can be quite the struggle some days. It becomes more about discipline than it does motivation. But what if, there was a reason outside of yourself to get in that sweat sesh. Insert: Vizer, a platform encouraging healthier habits through incentives. How? Reach a certain fitness goal (like that workout you promised yourself you’d do) and you have a hand in donating a meal to those in need. We caught up with Co-Founder and Entrepreneur, Dylan Barbour to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Vizer works, how it all got started and how it’s helping to both, create healthier habits for individuals and give back to communities.
Tell us a little about the Vizer app (Vizer).
Vizer is a platform incentivizing healthier habits. We first launched the Vizer app with the goal to make getting healthier easier. For every day you reach one of your fitness goals (i.e. 10K steps, 30 min of exercise, taking a workout class, etc.), brands will donate a meal to those in need on your behalf. In return for your exercise and donation, you are rewarded with points that you can spend (for free) on healthy items in our marketplace–ranging from a drink at True Food Kitchen or even a juice shot from Juice Press. The app itself is free–sweat is your currency!
Where did the idea come from and how did you get started?
My cousin and I joined forces in 2018 to work full-time on our vision. While on semester at sea, my cousin, Samantha, had the original idea of pairing exercise and health with social impact. Once she returned from her trip, she mentioned her desire to launch this community–and I was enthralled with the concept. We talked every day about it for the next few months, and eventually, I quit my job in San Francisco and moved to San Diego. After moving into our 3 bed, 760 sq ft duplex, we were off the races.
How did you come up with the name, Vizer?
Vizer is short for incentivize. After surveying a bunch of friends, Vizer was the name everyone picked. It’s short, active, and means something to both Sam and I.
Why an app? What question are you trying to answer or problem are you trying to solve?
The wellness industry has historically been extremely exclusive. Price-sensitive consumers didn’t have an option of participating in the wellness industry explosion over the past ~5-10 years. From $15 juices to spending thousands on a gym membership, there are few options accessible to all. This is why we started Vizer: to Democratize Wellness. We launched a free app allowing users to feel part of a community no matter where they are in the country. Vizer is an approachable platform with an immediate reward for your efforts, engaging and educating wellness content, and access to redeem free healthy foods all over the country. No strings attached. We want people to feel part of the growing wellness community, and we want those who join us to achieve a healthier lifestyle through attainable everyday habits.
What were you doing before Vizer and how do you think that influenced what you’re doing today?
I previously worked in Investment Banking and Wealth Management–the typical path for what feels like all northeast college kids. I’m not sure it was the specific industry I was in that influenced what we do today, but more so the feeling of excitement I felt when I made the leap to launch Vizer. I didn’t think it was possible to feel such highs (and sometimes such lows) when working, but it truly doesn’t feel like work at all.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of the business so far?
Growing pains. We’ve experienced such rapid growth over the past 12 months, expanding our team 5x, growing our user base exponentially, and implementing a new business model that we’ve essentially had to build a car while driving 80 miles an hour in it. Growth is a double-edged sword: it’s what every business yearns for, yet it comes with (most of the time) unexpected roadblocks. With that said, we’re extremely proud of what we’ve built, how we’ve handled the newfound growth, and what we have launching next. There will always be difficulties, however, we know the Vizer Community has our backs!
How have you tried to build awareness and get the word out about Vizer?
Our traction has mainly been word of mouth. Friends telling friends, family conversations over dinner, and company challenges have been our main source of growth. We’ve recently launched into more strategic partnerships to educate those about the community we’re building and why it’s perfect for them, and we’re excited to see the results of those!
Can you tell us a bit about what a normal day might look like in terms of working within your business?
As cliché as it may sound, there is no normal day. Every Monday and Friday the team will get together to chat about goals/accomplishments and updates. The only predictable thing you’ll get is our morning check-in: everyone goes around rating how they feel 1-10, plus 1 word that describes them (cannot be physical–ex. hungry, tired, etc). This started 3 years ago with our old roommate who always wanted to check in on us to make sure we weren’t losing our minds or burning out. Now we do it at the start and end of the week with the whole team!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to young entrepreneurs like yourself?
There will be times when people will think you’re crazy. Know that usually, they’ll be wrong but there will be times when they are right. From our experience, the right path is somewhere in between those two people. Be sure to surround yourself with mentors who have relevant experience and are not afraid to push back on your ideas!