Elevator Pitch Winner Takes Business to the Next Level

Posted on November 5, 2012


Fresno, Calif. – Each year, college students are forced to move out or transfer schools because of a bad experience with a roommate. Justin Mares, owner of RoommateFit, is solving that problem one college student at a time.

RoommateFit creates compatible roommate pairings based on personality traits. To date, the company has matched more than 7,000 students. Mares has also been accepted into the Pittsburgh startup incubator AlphaLab, where he received $30,000 in startup funds and office space.

In 2010, Mares entered the National Elevator Pitch Competition with RoommateFit and took 2nd place, winning $2,000 in prize money.

“Winning the pitch competition actually funded the first year of operations,” Mares said. “As a college student, I didn’t have a ton of disposable income, so after winning the pitch, I was able to spend that money to buy legal services and pay for a trip to meet with a company that we’re currently patterning with.”

Mares said he won the competition because of one key difference. “I was one of the few students pitching who actually had some sort of business and it wasn’t just an idea,” Mares said. “I had somebody who actually wanted to use this service and had a real product and a team behind me, so it was easier to sell.”

“The Elevator Pitch Competition gives the country’s brightest young entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their businesses and win the funds they need to take it to the next level,” said Dr. Timothy Stearns, Executive Director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Presented by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, this year’s National Elevator Pitch Competition was held on November 1-3 in Chicago. It is the largest elevator pitch competition and presents students with a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and a chance to win cash prizes. Past participants have received national exposure and gained new customers, partners and investors in their business or idea.


As one of the leading entrepreneurship centers in California, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, located at California State University, Fresno assists both students and community members in pursuit of their entrepreneurial goals. The Lyles Center delivers assistance through applied learning, professional consulting and managed problem solving.  As a recognized leader in entrepreneurship education, The Lyles Center uses its strategic position to leverage resources from the entire community to assist innovators and entrepreneurs in the development of their businesses.  The Lyles Center acts as a bridge for the campus and community, linking resources of both to achieve success in the marketplace.

Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) is the premier entrepreneurship network with chapters on university campuses across North America and beyond. CEO currently supports entrepreneurship on over 240 chapters in over 43 states. CEO’s mission is to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation. With a diverse entrepreneurial community and global network, CEO provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities, events, chapter activities, and conferences to help start businesses. The highlight of the year is the annual National Conference hosted each fall.


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