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Alumnus Creates Games that Turn the Streets Into a Game Board

John Aiello, Jr.
John Aiello Jr. is a 2008 graduate (B.A. in International Studies) and the Founder of Zasi, a creative gaming studio that develops real-world mobile games for brands. Zasi creates games that turn the streets into a game board, using a phone to navigate through the game. Aiello’s business partners with brands to create innovative campaigns that provide lasting memories.

Prior to founding Zasi, and post-Ohio State, Aiello embarked on a four-year “adventure,” as he likes to call it, traveling, studying, and working in various countries. “When I graduated from OSU, I didn’t want to take the traditional route of work: MBA, work, etc. I wanted something different. I wanted to travel and experience the world while I was still young.” So, throughout those years, Aiello moved from Prague to Lisbon to Buenos Aires, spending time in Rio de Janeiro, and eventually ending up in Oslo before moving back home to the New York City area. It was a whirlwind time. In Prague, John studied Economics and Finance at Charles University, and in Buenos Aires, John earned his TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Lan- guage) degree. In Lisbon, he spent the better part of two years obtaining his Masters of Science in Business Administration. Aiello’s reach continues to stretch far. Besides his current project of Zasi, he is also the Director of International Outreach for VentureOutNY, a company with the mission of helping the world’s best entrepreneurs scale their businesses to New York City.

“Those experiences have forged a lifetime of memories, and created friendships and relationships that break the barrier of distance. And although not all were great, you must look at them as learning experiences, and say that you were there and you’ve done it,” Aiello says. He encourages every student to live abroad at least once in their lives to experience the unmeasurable personal evolution, the feeling of needing to relearn the most basic activities, and the palpable fear that never dissipates.

He credits his parents and his time spent abroad for his willingness to take a risk on starting his own business. His parents started a small ice cream shop in his hometown in New Jersey when Aiello was just three years old. Through growing up and working in that environment, Aiello says now he understands how hard someone needs to work to succeed. His parents’ work ethic still resonates with him today.

And traveling?

“Patience, open mindedness, and adaptability!” Three qualities imperative to leadership. So what stage is Aiello at with Zasi?

“We are not even grazing the surface.” Aiello’s ambitions are high for Zasi. There is still so much more to accom- plish. “We’re a small team, a young company, and just getting started. We’re incredibly excited for what’s to come.” Aiello is currently based out of New York City. He can be reached at john@zasi.co.