Creating connections: Lifestyle app wimZr looks to develop in Tahoe |

Creating connections: Lifestyle app wimZr looks to develop in Tahoe

Anthony Gentile
Members of the wimZr crew get a hold of Justin Timberlake at the seventh hole as part of their Thursday hijinks at this year’s American Century Championship. Left to right: Ben Heaps, Kevin Wilner, Timberlake, Blake Mori, Eduard Florea.
Courtesy Photo |

Lake Tahoe draws visitors from around the world — and wimZr wants to keep them connected. The mobile app that launched last summer has taken big strides in its first year, and sees the South Shore and surrounding areas an ideal spot to continue developing.

“We’re loving Lake Tahoe and so happy to be here,” said wimZr president and co-founder John Parilo. “It’s a really great market for us.”

WimZr is a lifestyle app that primarily connects travelers visiting a destination with other travelers and locals prior to arrival — it also allows eventgoers to connect with one another via an open forum. It is currently available on both Apple and Android operating systems and has surged in popularity over the past year.

“When I first started it, I never thought it would go this far,” said CEO and co-founder Blake Mori. “I knew that it was a really good idea, but once it got going we realized it was amazing.”

“We believe it’s who you’re with rather than where you’re at that really creates the best moments.”John ParilowimZr co-founder

The app’s roots are in Sacramento, and its other markets are San Francisco and Los Angeles. A Sacramento native, Parilo is living in Incline Village for the summer as the app looks to spread into Lake Tahoe.

“We’re definitely looking to go as many fun places as we can with the app, because it makes more sense and gets people out,” Parilo said.

As wimZr looks to Lake Tahoe to continue developing, it also owes its start to the area. It was following a New Year’s trip to South Lake Tahoe in 2014 that Parilo came up with the idea for the app.

“All my buddies were hopping on dating apps once they got into Lake Tahoe, convinced me to do so and I was able to make connections and talk to people — but it takes time to develop that rapport,” he said.

“I went home and told my roommate (Mori) and he asked, ‘Why didn’t you guys just do it before you got there?’ The light bulb went off.”

WimZr began as a travel app with one-on-one interaction before eventually changing to take the form it is in today. Between visitors, locals and eventgoers, it’s all about bringing people together for a shared experience — and connecting them prior to a trip or an event.

“We believe it’s who you’re with rather than where you’re at that really creates the best moments,” Parilo said. “If you can combine the right people at the right event, it really creates moments you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Locally and in the world of viral videos, the app’s co-founders are perhaps most well known for creating indelible moments at the American Century Championship. It’s those two and their friends that have given Thursday at the seventh hole an identity all its own.

“We started this years ago just messing around — some idiotic drunk guys just having fun with the players,” Mori said. “It’s pretty surreal.”

Mori and Parilo first attended the tournament a decade ago as part of a bachelor party. That turned into an annual guys trip — and two years in, the heckling began.

“We started some positive heckling with the celebrities and they really drew to it — the celebrities really loved it,” Parilo said. “It’s one of those things that just magically happened and here we are today.”

The seventh hole festivities at Edgewood Tahoe have taken a life of their own over the past two years, due in large part to a pair of crushing tackles courtesy of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk. Hawk has tackled Ben Heaps during the last two tournaments, and at last month’s ACC laid out Heaps in the tee box while he tried to catch an overthrown pass.

“We just find ourselves laughing at what happened the year before — and somehow it always gets bigger,” Parilo said. “A.J. Hawk has definitely been an instrumental piece in making that happen — he’s been really great with us along with all the celebrities.

“There’s already talks about the third hit coming up next year — that will definitely be a piece of how we try to climb the ladder in 2016.”

WimZr served as a sponsor at this year’s ACC, and plans to continue that relationship in the future. As for the future of the app itself, Mori said there are plans to expand its travel side to include open forums along with continuing overall development.

“We’re not building a company or a product,” Mori said. “We are now building a feature in the mobile world for a lot of things.”

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