By Lindsey Andrews, communications coordinator
Demi Yang, a supply chain management senior, is co-founder and COO of Zonder: Collect the World, an app that gamifies travel. She and her team of six — including her brother, alumnus Harry Yang (BA Supply Chain Management ‘10), who is CEO of Zonder — have been working for over 18 months on the creation of this app.
Zonder helps users of the free app track their travels locally and abroad. Users gain experience by visiting places like parks, restaurants, craft breweries, etc.; can earn badges based on the types of places they visit; as well as compare and compete with friends by using the app’s leaderboard.
“We decided it would be a cool idea to give people virtual experience for going to places. With the experience, Zonder creates a unique profile for each user that shows the type of traveler they are and their accomplishments. They can check up on their Timeline, which records previous locations that they’ve been to, and see new places to go to on the map,” Yang said.
She searched for resources on MSU’s campus that would help her achieve her business goals and found the Hatch, an MSU organization that has resources for, and supports, student entrepreneurs.
“I am a member of the Hatch, and I’ve participated in various pitch competitions. I received second, with Zonder, in the WE Innovate Pitch Competition in 2017,” Yang said.
“I applied to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization pitch competition last year, and I was chosen to pitch during their conference. They (the Hatch) offered to fly all contestants from MSU out there because the trip was expensive. They are really supportive in these endeavors,” Yang said.
For the spring semester, Yang plans to work with the interns at the Hatch more and find out what other resources they have to offer to help progress her business.
“They have interns for areas like design and business development. I’ve reached out to them recently to have them work with us on different marketing material and our marketing campaign. There are a ton of resources that I have yet to discover, so I really need to sit down with their leadership to talk about what they have for a tech company like mine,” Yang said.
“In addition, entrepreneurs at the Hatch often help each other and share their experiences. I can’t count the number of times other members have given me valuable advice. Since I’ve worked on Zonder for over a year and turned it into a functioning app, I would love to help other startups with their tech ideas,” Yang added.
For students at the freshmen level and beyond, Yang offered some advice: “They should definitely utilize the resources we have on campus to support them. I think that the entrepreneurship program and the Hatch do enough for the students to make sure that they don’t have to worry about financial issues, resource issues, and finding talent – at least while they’re at MSU. So, there really is no excuse to not just go for it.”
Yang is a tenacious and hardworking student and entrepreneur. She aims to create an impact at MSU and beyond with her B2C business.
“We really want to have our beta release spread throughout the MSU campus so that millennials, which are a target market, can give feedback on it. I really want this app to start from MSU. I want it to be known that this started on the MSU campus and if it does get big, that’s something to be proud of,” Yang said.
To encourage the origin of this app at MSU, Yang would like to extend the key “GoGreen” to those who would like to join the beta testing of the app. The key is good for the first 50 signups and available on the App Store and Google Play. The official release of the app is planned for late spring 2019.