The Technicalities of Travel

I’m Noah Allen, the CTO of Zonder. In this exciting update, I want to share how our product vision has motivated our remote team to accomplish awesome work thus far. First, as always, a bit about travel!

I’ve always had an itch for travel. My first time abroad was directly after my senior year of high school when I went to Romania to be a leader at an English camp. Romania is a beautiful country, and experiencing a culture so different than that of the U.S. was a wonderful way for me to grow. I had the opportunity to tell kids at the camp about American culture and teach them basic English. When English is taught in Europe, it is usually British English. Of course, this sparked some fun rivalry at the camp between the part of the team from America and the part from Northern Ireland! (Ever heard of a “car park”?) Despite our cultural differences, our team was able to work effectively because of our shared vision for the camp — to effectively serve the children there. This closely mimics how our team at Zonder works as well: we may work in cities across the U.S. in different capacities, but together we have helped create a beautiful product.

A view of the camp in Geoagiu, Romania. (July 2015)

I suppose that my love for travel and interest in other cultures explain why I was intrigued when my friend and our co-founder, Demi, began talking to me about Zonder. We were interning at the same energy company, and she was looking for a tech person to fill out the founding team of the company. At first, I saw it as a really interesting side project, but wasn’t 100% behind the idea. I had no experience with startups before, so the thought of taking this project from nothing to something incredible was both exciting and daunting. Did I have enough experience? Would I make good decisions for the company?

Imposter Syndrome, the nagging feeling that you aren’t as capable as your peers, is quite common in tech careers. I might spend hours pouring over solutions that others have found more easily, which inevitably reinforces my mistaken belief that my own solutions are not good enough. I fell into this same fallacy as well at the beginning of our endeavors with Zonder. But as we more fully developed our vision for the product, my confidence in my own abilities grew as well. When we face Imposter Syndrome, we must power through it. Working hard despite our fears means that we emerge having proven to ourselves that we can make something wonderful — something that is amazing in its own right, not compared to the work of our peers. At Zonder, we have a chance to help people experience the world more fully. Our mission is to enhance people’s traveling experience, and this inspires our work every day.

Having this vision allows the individual parts of the Zonder team to work effectively in a remote environment. Our designers work to ensure that Zonder is a joy to use, developing beautiful interfaces and artwork. Our developers work to ensure that the product is implemented seamlessly on mobile platforms, testing and debugging all of the strange issues that inevitably occur with app development. Our marketers strive to communicate the vision well to the world. And, of course, our business people ensure that all the legal and technical aspects of the company run smoothly.

A year ago, I was able to travel to Northern Ireland to reconnect with some folks who had also helped with the camp in Romania. Having shared experience with the camp in Romania allowed our adventures in N. Ireland to be that much more fun.

The rugged coast of Northern Ireland. (January 2017)

We want the Zonder experience to help travelers have more interconnected experiences like this. As a team, we have a shared joy for travel, and this shared passion helps us work effectively on our product. We have many ideas and concepts about how this vision can be implemented, and we’ll start exploring those here on the blog in the near future.

Happy Travels!