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Meet Samantha Pantazopoulos and Dylan Barbour of Vizer in Mission Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Pantazopoulos and Dylan Barbour.

Samantha and Dylan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Sam: I was first introduced to social entrepreneurship while studying abroad on Semester at Sea. There was a club on the ship that was hosting a Social Innovation Challenge, and although I had always been interested in business, I didn’t quite understand social enterprise. I decided to attend the club meeting at the last minute.

I am so glad I did, because I was absolutely blown away. I loved the idea that business could be used as a tool to create resources for social causes. I had several ideas of what to build for the competition, but one thing was emphasized over and over by our advisor – build a solution around a cause you identify with.

For me, that had always been health and wellness. I had struggled for years to reach my exercise goals, with unsuccessful workout plans and crash diets. I remember thinking: here I am, eliminating things from my plate for weight loss, while there are people in our community who don’t have access to enough food for an active lifestyle. I knew there had to be a better way to integrate nutrition and exercise, and from that, Vizer was born. I spent 12 weeks building out the concept with my roommate and a friend on the ship, and when I returned, immediately called my cousin, Dylan.

Dylan: Now, I was the opposite of Sam. Growing up, I had always been interested in health and wellness. I played sports throughout my entire life and all through college, where I played football and ran track. After graduation, I chose to go the more traditional route and start a banking job in San Francisco.

But even then, I was never satisfied. I knew I wanted to do more and have a more tangible impact on the community. When Sam first talked with me about Vizer, it was something I was passionate about right away. We spent hours talking through the potential and what a future building Vizer could look like. But at that point, I still wasn’t ready to move forward with it.

We continued to talk about it here and there, all the way up until my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when it hit me how important health is. I knew it was time, and I decided to take a leap of faith. Later that year, I moved to San Diego and began working with Sam on Vizer full time.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Sam: Everything about starting something new is a learning curve. We definitely hit a few unexpected challenges along the way, and more often than not our timetables were delayed, but the business emerged so much stronger because of it. We realized around six months in, had we have known exactly how to do everything from the outset, we never would have had the tough conversations and changes along the way that made it better.

Dylan: Hindsight is always 20/20. We place a high value on speaking with other entrepreneurs and learning from their past victories and losses. There are problems that are very unique to your business (albeit few), but a majority of the issues entrepreneurs face have been solved by their predecessors. We always ask for outside help and advice when attacking our issues. That being said, we’ve come across a lot of hurdles and mishaps, but we continue to push forward and use it as a learning experience for future obstacles.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Vizer story. Tell us more about it.
Vizer is a social impact fitness app helping people develop healthier habits. Our goal is to improve community-wide health through increased exercise and access to healthy food. We’ve partnered with incredible brands like Chosen Foods, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, and The Patio Group to make this goal a reality.

Users can donate a meal to the San Diego Food Bank, paid for by our corporate sponsors, by elevating their heart rate for 30 minutes a day, reaching 10,000 steps, or taking a class at a partnered studio. Each meal donated is redeemable for rewards points that can be used towards items from local San Diego restaurants and retailers.

On Vizer, your workout supports your health, your wallet, and your community. After years of building out the concept, we are most excited about launching on the App Store earlier this month!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Sam: I absolutely believe in luck, and I know there have been countless times throughout my life where it has been in my favor. But I also believe luck is built upon a foundation of preparation. When the opportunity presents itself, it can be transformative. But you need to have put in the time and effort to be ready for it.

Dylan: Sam and I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities in our lives, and those have taught us that day in and day out, hard work is more reliable than luck. We strive to put in what we are hoping to get out and bet more on ourselves than chance. So, win or lose, it’s on us.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brandon Ochoa, Broadway Hill, Alexio Mah, The Brink SBDC at the University of San Diego

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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