SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — If you love to get your body moving, you may have heard of the app 'Vizer'. Created by cousins in San Diego, the concept allows you to convert your exercise into a meal donation.
“I think a lot of people say it’s too good to be true,” said Co-Founder Dylan Barbour
Barbour and his cousin, Sam Pantazopoulos, never expected to be leading a team of fourteen with thousands of users nationwide.
“We kind of refer to it as a potluck," said Barbour. "Like everyone brings one thing to the table, and then now everyone can benefit from the entire ecosystem.”
The concept of Vizer was born in 2015, when Sam took a trip abroad, and was asked the question, 'How can you use business to solve a social problem?'
“For me I just always struggled with healthy habit formation. I wanted to be one of those people who worked out and I just wasn’t, no matter how many times I tried," said Pantazopoulos. "So the theory was how can we create a structure that would incentivize people to stay active, and then also reduce the barriers I had experienced but also systemically, so increasing access to healthy food."
It was an idea to turn exercise into real impact through meal donations. Two years later in 2017, Dylan decided to leave his job in San Francisco and move back home to San Diego, to help his cousin's dream come to life.
“I just kept trying to poke holes in it, and I was like there is now way it’s that simple," jokes Barbour.
But it is.
The free app allows users to track their steps or movement, through your phone, watch, or by attending a partnered fitness class.
Goals can be reaching 10 thousand steps, working out for 30 minutes, or attending one of the workout classes. When the user achieves their goal, the user has to go to the app before the clock strikes midnight, and click 'Donate a Meal'. Once it goes through users will see the organization and the food bank that your donation has helped.
“So a great example," explains Pantazopoulos, "is the Jacob Cushman San Diego food bank here, who is distributing meals through their network of community organizations.”
Once the user has donated, they will receive a point that can be redeemed at select businesses. Options include an empanada at Empanada Kitchen or flower stems at Native Poppy.
Barbour explains how it is a win-win for everyone.
“I think marketing for restaurants is traditionally really hard to track. Two, foot traffic. I think when you come in you are probably going to buy something else more often than not, so there’s a revenue benefit there. And three, just being a part of the community. You want like minded people and that kind of vibe to be in your restaurant and associated with the other brands we have on.”
The app launched in 2019 and has already fed more than 2.5 million people. What started as an app-only exclusive to San Diego has taken off and is now available across the US.
“A lot of people have said this has gotten us off the couch, this has made me a lot healthier," shares Barbour. "And that was the whole point at the end of the day, so that’s probably been one of the coolest things to hear.”
But they are no where near done yet.
The team hopes to expand to retail and grocery stores. The cousins expect that the app will become a staple in everyone's every day in less than five years, eventually incorporating more than just fitness.
“It’s this concept of how do we democratize wellness, in a whole-person health way, for every person in our community. So any barriers to living well, our goal is to break them down," explains Pantazopoulos. "And I think if we can keep doing that consistently, and give people tools and resources to do that, we will see the ripple effect throughout society.”
The San Diego cousins, are making a change, through simple steps and a click of an orange button.
Vizer is available for all mobile devices in your app store.