Bachelor in Paradise contestant and entrepreneur Dylan Barbour ’16 talks TV and tech

Sofie Jones

Dylan Barbour ’16 spoke at the College on his technology start-up and time on reality television. (Photo courtesy of Emily Burr.)

Dylan Barbour ’16, the co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of the philanthropy-meets-fitness app Vizer, has built a fanbase on campus after appearing on the most recent seasons of ABC’s The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Last weekend, Barbour returned to Williamstown, speaking on Friday afternoon at a ’68 Center for Career Exploration event in Paresky auditorium.

Barbour, who wore a “Williams Rocket Science” t-shirt and a baseball cap bearing his company’s insignia, was swarmed by attendees in the moments before his talk began.  

As Barbour greeted students, Megan Siedman ’20, an avid fan of the former Eph linebacker, commented, “If I were to take a photo of this, its caption would be ‘Div. 3 in football, Div. 1 in dating.’” 

The ’68 Center’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Tonio Palmer introduced Barbour, praising his entrepreneurial mindset. “That’s what we’re trying to teach, identifying problems and finding solutions,” he said.  

Barbour, who took a job at Morgan Stanley after graduation, began the talk by reflecting on his decision to leave the company in early 2018 in order to pursue a technology start-up full-time. Soon after, he moved into a small house in San Diego alongside his cousin and co-founder Samantha Pantazopoulos. This decision, Barbour said, marked his departure from a predetermined route that he argued many graduates take.  

“The typical route is you go to Williams, work your ass off for four years, and then work in banking,” Barbour said. “[Quitting a job to pursue a start-up is] not the traditional path, in their eyes — it’s throwing away a liberal arts education.” 

An abbreviation of “incentivize,” Vizer lets users in the San Diego area help the community by working out, donating a meal for each workout completed. Participants can also rack up their own rewards at local restaurants through special promotions on the app.  

The app first launched as a pilot program with about 550 users in the San Diego area. Barbour saw this step as a way to assess how Vizer would fit into the current market, which he stressed as the most important stage of product development.  

“It’s really hard to be taken seriously when you are 23 or 24 years old and you’re trying to sell this product,” he explained. “You have to be confident in it, and it’s pretty easy to be confident with good market fit.” 

As Vizer grew, Barbour devoted more and more hours of the day to the business. This left little time for dating or socializing with friends. “When you’re at a start-up, you don’t have a social life,” he said. “That’s what it takes.” 

After several months of working at Vizer, a producer from The Bachelorette reached out to Barbour on Instagram, asking if he would be interested in potentially going on the show. While Barbour initially declined, he soon reconsidered and travelled to Los Angeles to meet with the show’s producers. On Valentine’s Day, he got the call officially welcoming him to the cast.  

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Barbour admitted to the audience. “I had never done something like that.” 

Once filming began, Barbour and his fellow contestants travelled around the world in hopes of wooing Hannah Brown, the show’s lead. While the experience did not end successfully for him, Barbour told the audience that it was an amazing opportunity for self-growth. “You learn a lot about yourself,” he said. “Going through that process makes or breaks people. It’s super stressful.” 

After being eliminated in Latvia, Barbour returned to his life in San Diego and continued to pitch Vizer to potential investors. He had been home for less than two months when he got another call asking him to appear on Bachelor in Paradise, a Bachelor spin-off in which eligible singles look for love on a beach in Mexico.  

It was there he met now-fiancée Hannah Godwin, a former Bachelor contestant and professional model. When Barbour was asked by a student when he knew he’d found ‘the one,’ he responded instantly. “Day one, baby,” he answered. He then divulged that before he even met Godwin, he gushed about her to his mother and joked that she was his future girlfriend.  

At the end of the season, Barbour got down on one knee and proposed to Godwin. While the duo has yet to make any wedding plans, Barbour told the audience that they hope to move in together in the near future.  

In the middle of the event, Barbour received a phone call from Godwin, leading him to put her on speaker phone so excited fans could say hello. Barbour continued to gush after hanging up. “One of a kind, man,” he commented. “She rocks.” 

Once Bachelor In Paradise started airing, Barbour’s social media following grew exponentially, he said. “It’s so weird,” he said. “You’re thrown into the public eye overnight.” 

Barbour told the audience that it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the additional attention on his business. “When you get put on national television, everybody is going to see the app,” he explained. “But we didn’t have the product ready for that yet.” 

Their solution was to block out users who were not in the San Diego area, ensuring that the app can be properly scaled before it is downloaded by users across the country. After finding a national partner in Revolution Foods, Barbour hopes to grow Vizer into a nationwide program. 

Barbour acknowledged that his newfound platform has led to new business opportunities for the company. “It hasn’t hurt us,” he told the audience. “We were put in a unique position, where we got to put our product in front of millions of consumers for free. Investors love that.” 

While much of his business knowledge was learned on the job, Barbour, a former English major, still finds value in his liberal arts education. His time at the College gave “the confidence that, if you’re here, you can work really hard and get results,” he told students. “I’m a big Williams guy, big fan.” 

Barbour also answered questions from the audience about his experience with reality television. He divulged some behind-the-scenes secrets from The Bachelor, giving students an inside look at the show’s infamous group dates. “Group dates go from 10 A.M. to 3 A.M and you only eat once,” he said. “That’s why everyone is crazy.” 

A few of Barbour’s former football teammates watched him from the audience, cheering for him throughout the event. Although Barbour’s life has changed substantially since graduation, his success, both on television and in the business world, was unsurprising to former roommate James Howe ’16. “It just made sense,” Howe said. “He’s just that kind of guy.” 

Students in attendance voiced their excitement over seeing a fellow Eph make it big in the world of televised romance. “Seeing him in the flesh was very exciting,” Isabelle Wood ’22 said. “We need people like him, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” 

As a member of the Lehman Community Engagement team on campus, Caroline Case ’22 appreciated the work Barbour has done to help fight hunger in San Diego. “I’ve been looking forward to this for two or three weeks,” she said. “I think it’s important to see Williams alums working to serve the community.” 

To Daniel Rials ’22, Barbour served as a reminder of the many opportunities that await students after graduation. “I think it’s good to see there’s not just one path to take,” Rials said. “It gives me hope for what I could do after this. And I wanted to send a picture to my mom.” 

Additional reporting by Brooke Horowitch.