STARTUP STAGE: Zonder creates a shareable, gamified digital journal of a user’s travels


Zonder is an
app that automatically logs places users visit and things that they do, with a
gamification aspect that creates incentives for users to do more exploration. 

CEO Harry
Yang says the company is marketing the app, founded in 2018, to tourism bureaus and
cities as a way to promote their destinations.

What is your
30-second pitch to investors?

Zonder is
the world’s first all-in-one travel companion app that allows you to
automatically keep track of the places you’ve been and build a sharable travel profile
with all your travel accomplishments. It also doubles as a city exploration
game where a user can earn experience points (XP) and level up as they visit
more places, reaching goals and competing with friends. Don’t just travel –
collect the world with Zonder.


both the business and technology aspects of your startup. 

Zonder is a
mobile app that’s available on both Android and iOS and uses state of the art
geofencing technology. 

Give us your
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.

  • Strengths –
    Design ability, developmental ability and our team quality is one of the best
    imaginable. Our creativity and market segment carries a very low risk of being
    invaded by a large competitor.
  • Weaknesses –
    Marketing experience and knowledge, our initial revenue path is also more
    manual sales effort.
  • Opportunities
    – Possibility of becoming the main travel game and city tour platform
  • Threats –
    Rising cloud services costs and other services.

What are the
travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the
industry perspective? 

there aren’t any services/apps that allow you to keep track of your places
visited automatically – without having to use your phone. People also don’t
have a way to see their overall travel progress and feel good about it ticking
up each time they visit a new place and get closer to their goals.

So you’ve
got the product, now how will you get lots of customers? 

We are trying
a variety of marketing avenues including social media, Facebook and Google Ads,
creating referral contests and also work with influencers and journalists.

Tell us what
process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and
the size of the addressable market. 

We made a v1
minimum viable product of the app last year and released it for a few months. With
limited marketing, we got over 3,000 users to try it out, and feedback for the
general concept was overwhelmingly positive. So we ended up taking some of the suggested
improvements and greatly revised our visuals and presentation to release the
version two of Zonder this summer. This is a market product that has an
extremely broad audience, which is millennial travelers who are interested in
applying game concepts to their real-life travel activities. The estimated
market size is about 210 million in 2019, but this varies significantly today
based on the status of the pandemic. There are no competitor apps that are
similar to us (travel gamification and travel companion).

How and when
will you make money? 

Zonder is
currently selling tours to tourism bureaus and cities. When a city purchases a tour
on our platform, they can feature up to 30 places in the Zonder app for our
users to visit and earn bonus points. This will bring traffic into the city and
to specific businesses and locations within the city. Cities and regions will
no longer need to commission the building of their own app, which is expensive
and a pain to get visitors to actually download. We have one pilot city as our
customer right now. Future revenue methods may include in-app purchases and
customizations, as well as extra features for a price.

What are the
backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team? 

I am the CEO, and I am based out of Michigan and have previously worked in automotive
supply chain for seven years. The CTO (who is a non-founding member) is based
out of Mato Grosso, Brazil, and has made several other apps before Zonder.

What’s been
the most difficult part of founding the business so far? 

The hardest
part is definitely designing the app from scratch. No app of this type has ever
been made, so there weren’t templates we could copy or really take inspiration
from. And I had to learn design and UI from scratch, because that wasn’t part
of my previous corporate job at all. After about two years of difficulties,
mistakes, and pushing hard through obstacles, the app design is now one of the
best on the App Store. But it took countless hours and self-thinking to learn
the skills required to get here.

travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact – so why are you
going to be one of lucky ones? 

It’s not
about luck. We’ve made a unique product that isn’t a simple travel logging app,
or a travel booking app, or a minor variation of a current product. I’m not in
Zonder to make money fast – I’m in it to create an amazing must-use travel
companion that really makes traveling more fun for everyone. Our app is already
one of the best-designed travel apps on the App Store, and our team is going to
keep on making it better and better for our users. And that’s why we’re going
to succeed.

A year from
now, what state do you think your startup will be in? 

We’re going
to have a large and dedicated base of users and start generating small amounts of
early revenue from cities, expanding regionally in the U.S. I would be happy
with around 100,000 users at that point.

What is your
end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, ect.) 

Public or private
doesn’t matter too much to me, but my overall goal is to really bring the
concept of travel collecting to people, and have millions of people really
enjoy using Zonder and sharing their travel achievements with each other. I do
not intend to sell the company, because I want it to be the premier travel
game, worldwide.

PhocusWire Startup Stage

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