My Carolina Experience: Taylor Meyer
By Zoya Johnson, GoHeels.com
Taylor Meyer graduated in 2012 with his chemistry major and nothing but Carolina on his mind. Yet, his budding ventures have absolutely nothing to do with a laboratory.
Before all of this, however, Taylor Meyer was like any other freshman student-athlete. He had gone from being one of the best where he was from to suddenly being surrounded by hundreds of student-athletes just like him.
Meyer came to college out of a rigorous high school tennis program ranked fourth in the state of North Carolina and as a consistent honor roll student. Regardless of his impressive tennis and academic background Meyer admits nothing could have prepared him for the discipline and hard work he had to commit to as a student-athlete at UNC.
Remembering his time on campus, Meyer says, "Carolina truly taught me what it means to work hard, to have goals, and to get a lot done in little time. I think most any athlete at UNC could attest to that.
"I remember many nights where I would be up working until 1 or 2 in the morning, and had to be up by 6 a.m. to make weights. I don't think there is an environment out there that could have challenged me as much as Carolina did. I am not sure if I hadn't gone through with my time at UNC I would have truly understood what hard work was and what it takes to be great at something."
Coming to Carolina Meyer had the basic goals of making the starting lineup, excelling in his major and having a lasting impact on campus. It was the combination of all of these pursuits that served as the motivation to pursue an idea he and a Tar Heel teammate had to improve the efficiency of UNC's social scene.
During Meyer's senior year he and teammate Zach Hunter realized that they were bored with their usual social routine but really didn't know of any other options.
In an effort to branch out of their comfort zones they discovered more than 20 restaurants and five nightlife venues within walking distance from campus.
Upon further investigation into the matter, the two discovered that there were in fact 100 plus nightlife and dining venues that actually existed around campus and decided there had to be a way to make them more accessible.
It was this concept that prompted the duo to start an online collective of all the dining and nightlife venues in the area. The website would aim to bring UNC students more convenient and inclusive access to all that Carolina's social scene had to offer while keeping the college budget in mind.
By providing members of their site with exclusive discounts in addition to advertising the deals the restaurants and night venues already offered, Meyer and Hunter were revolutionizing the way UNC students could experience the social aspect of college.
Their pursuit of the venture allowed them to make dreams they didn't even know they had come true and from these ideas Uconnection.com was born.
"By the end of my senior year, our website listed every dining and nightlife venue within walking distance of UNC's campus, contained every special that each venue offered for every day of the week, and also had exclusive deals for only the students on Uconnection to use at over 30 restaurants and nightlife venues." That was in 2012.
Now, only two years later, Uconnection has gone from a simple online source for deals in Chapel Hill to a full blown website accessible by students at UNC, NC State, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It is also the most popular dining application in Chapel Hill and is available on all iOS and Android devices.
Although not much can be said about the usefulness of chemistry in all of this, Meyer's degree from UNC allowed him to forge the relationships that gave Uconnection.com the ability to take off. Meyer credits the foundation of Uconnection's success to his partnership with Zach Hunter, his family, and the support he initially gained through the tennis team and the athletic department as a whole.
"It was a pretty cool thing to see. I think that through all of the student athletes, and the general athletic community's support, Uconnection was able to grow in such a way that would ultimately allow us to serve the thousands of students who now use it every day. We are extremely grateful for that and hope to one day give back in a big way," Meyer explains.
Today, Meyer works on Uconnection full time, in the company's office based in Chapel Hill. In this past school year at Carolina, Uconnection saved students over $150,000 on their dining and nightlife adventures.
"We actually recently received an acquisition offer of $1 million for Uconnection but decided to decline for now to see our vision through. We will launch Uconnection at two more universities this fall and will hopefully be up and running at more than 10 schools by this time next year. "
Meyer and Hunter were both very accomplished student-athletes while on campus but they knew the memories made off the court and outside of the classroom were just as important to their experience. "Ultimately the greatest thing I will take away based on all of my experiences on campus is the memories," said Meyer. "As you go through the experience your passions and priorities will often change, and it will serve you best to have the options to do what you ultimately love doing."
When asked what he would say to a recruit looking to make the decision between UNC and another university of equal caliber Meyer says, "I would tell them that if they are looking for a complete academics and athletics program in a place filled with the greatest of people, you could never top Carolina. While some universities certainly may have one or even two of those three components, I am not sure there is another place that can meet all three of those criteria to the extent that UNC does. Carolina is truly the best."
Because Meyer made it a point to embrace his Carolina Experience as something bigger than just making his grades, or pursuing a starting spot in the line-up he was able to see a need for something that would ultimately heighten the already amazing experience that comes with a Carolina education.
Meyer's love of his alma mater and his desire to bring its full social potential to everyone who feels the same has now turned into something he can wake up to and enjoy pursuing for many years to come. It is also quickly becoming a new piece of what collectively makes this university so easy to love.