In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Samantha Pantazopoulos, co-founder & CEO of Vizer, a daily wellness platform linking user activity with healthy rewards and charitable giving. She discusses how partnerships with both US food banks and leading consumer health brands allow her app to democratize wellness.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Vizer?
Samantha Pantazopoulos: Vizer is the first daily wellness platform Democratizing Wellness®. The free app helps people develop sustainable wellness routines by providing motivation to exercise, increasing access to healthy foods, and providing value-adding resources and education.
In partnership with industry-leading health and wellness brands such as Vita Coco, Dream Pops, CORE Foods, and OLIPOP, Vizer converts daily activity into meal donations and healthy rewards. Available on both iOS and Android, the app logs daily workouts (10K steps, 30 minutes of activity, or classes at partner studios like SoulCycle).
It then converts them into meal donations sponsored by one of our better-for-you brand partners and distributes them via US food banks. Each donation earns the user a point redeemable towards digital, retail, and restaurant rewards.
Beyond individual users, we also are empowering the corporate wellness space, offering a variety of corporate challenges to keep employees engaged and incentivized.
At Vizer, we’re integrating the growing wellness world into an easy-to-use platform that is centered around the shared vision of making wellness more accessible for all community members and ensuring that all people are endowed with the resources required to live well.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
SP: I’ve always struggled with unhealthy habits and could never stick to a balanced wellness routine. In college, while participating in Semester at Sea, I found myself in a lower spot than ever with my health and wellness.
At the same time, I was studying social innovation and how businesses can be utilized as tools to sustain social good. I had a moment of realization during that semester and saw the potential for a tool that would make healthy living more accessible for all members of the community (myself included!).
As a leader of Vizer, I’m committed to creating a new era in the wellness space that empowers accessible health and wellness and fosters a community of people who support each other in taking small daily steps towards feeling their best.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
SP: When we first launched the app, we were on an extremely lean budget. I had to learn user interface design and prototyping from YouTube so we could create and launch our MVP.
We joined several community and business networking groups to secure our first impact and business partners, launching via an organic campaign with wellness creators who were equally passionate about making health and wellness more accessible.
A turning point in the growth and evolution of the company was when we were awarded the i2 Innovation Initiative grant from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation. It gave us the resources to hire our first team members and begin to scale the app, converting millions of workouts converted into meal donations and healthy rewards nationwide.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
SP: We have designed Vizer as a discovery tool for the wellness category, with the goal of connecting our community with better-for-you brands, services, and resources that can serve them in the development of sustainable daily wellness routines.
This is a large and growing category that we believe will continue to rapidly scale and evolve in the coming years. Not limited to the verticals of exercise and nutrition, the Vizer ecosystem services all dimensions of whole-person health, ranging from mindfulness to financial health to social wellness and more — we have found success by aligning with brands who share our vision.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
SP: Vizer is a mission-driven enterprise focused on accessibility and positive impact. Our community is composed of individuals and brands who share this ethos and have been open to sharing the platform with their communities.
We feel fortunate to have grown our community organically to date and believe word of mouth to be the strongest channel for spreading the message about the work the platform is doing.
In addition to this socially fueled expansion, we also render services for organizations—like corporations, higher ed, nonprofits, sports teams, etc.—who are interested in using Vizer internally to help their populations with wellness and community engagement.
Looking forward, we will continue to lean into the power of community to spark growth by providing users with the resources to share the app with their personal and social networks.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
SP: We recently launched a feature expanding the communities we can serve with a retail rewards program empowering users to use Vizer points for healthy rewards at leading retailers like Rite Aid and Walmart nationwide.
In the coming months, we will be announcing several additional retailers who will accept Vizer points in exchange for healthy products from our better-for-you ecosystem partners, so be on the lookout for updates coming soon!
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
SP: My primary goal in building this tool is that it helps individuals overcome whatever is blocking them from the development of a healthier lifestyle. Whether it is resources, motivation, or education, I believe our entire lives change when we are empowered with the tools to feel good.
Through building this platform, I have been able to restore my relationships with both food and exercise, and I am confident that this resource can be of service to so many others.
If you’re at all interested in joining the community and using activity to participate in the co-creation of a healthier and happier world, we would love to welcome you!
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If you’re interested in having your company featured in our Startup Q&A series, send an email to email@example.com.