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Press Release

Cal Poly Students Win Cash Prizes for Their Innovative Ideas at CIE’s 13th Annual Elevator Pitch Competition

Contact: Stephanie Zombek 


SAN LUIS OBISPO — Two Cal Poly students won $1,500 at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) 13th annual Elevator Pitch Competition, a fast-paced, high-energy competition for student entrepreneurs, held Nov. 2 at the Performing Arts Center’s Christopher Cohan Center. 

Ten finalists, selected from an initial pool of 50 applicants, had 90 seconds each to pitch their innovative products, services and startup ideas. They were evaluated by a panel of judges on four criteria: how well was the problem or opportunity explained; was the idea innovative; was the direction was clear; and was the pitch persuasive.  

Industrial engineering senior Owen Works from Victoria, British Columbia, received the $1,000 first-place prize with his pitch for DrinkWise, a temporary tattoo that gives users real-time measurements of their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. 

“Winning was a bit of a shock because I thought there were some really good ideas and pitches,” Works said. “(Before applying to the competition), I talked to a lot of my friends about my idea, and everyone thought it was good and said to go for it, and I’m very glad I did.” 

Two students hold large checks won at competition
Prize winners Owen Works and Camille Boiteux with their awards at CIE’s 13th Annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

Works said he intends to expand his team and begin engineering the temporary tattoos. 

Camille Boiteux, a business administration junior with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Saratoga, California, received the $500 audience choice award. 

Her pitch for Swish Lash was the top pick of attendees. Swish Lash is a uniquely shaped reusable sponge brush that removes mascara in just a few swipes. 

Boiteux also participated in the 2020 Elevator Pitch Competition with a social academic app designed to make studying fun.

“I’ve been involved (with the CIE) since my freshman year, but this is my first time competing as a finalist and winning a prize,” Boiteux said. “This is crazy for me.” 

Boiteux said she plans to begin testing her prototypes to find which is most effective. She will also continue working with the CIE Hatchery, an on-campus resource for Cal Poly students interested in entrepreneurship or starting their own business. 

Other Elevator Pitch Competition finalists included: 

  • Brake Buddy, a patent-pending brake light that uses progressive LED technology in order to allow drivers to gauge how hard the car in front of them is braking, pitched by Mason Elefant, a business administration junior with a concentration in marketing management.
  • Feed, an Apple-based mobile application meant specifically for sharing food, which allows food lovers to share their food experiences and recommendations, pitched by computer science senior Isha Lamba.
  • Hermeats, a student-to-student food delivery service enabling students to deliver campus dining orders to one another, pitched by computer science freshman Sahith Karra. 
  • The Mycelial Biodigester, a mycelium bio-digester that can break plastics down into their organic components or grow a biodegradable plastic substitute that is similar to Styrofoam, pitched by Thaddeus Ziarkowski, a business administration senior with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
  • ReBrush, a paintbrush with refillable bristles that allows users to keep the same handle even after the bristles have been ruined by dried paint, pitched by Andrew Choumas, a business administration senior with a concentration in real estate finance.
  • Remote Work Vans, a rental campervan service that provides remote work professionals with a custom van that converts between traditional campervan and mobile workspace, pitched by Garrison Rowland, a business administration senior with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
  • Top of the Bagel, a bagel company that focuses on innovation within the bagel industry and offers bagels with seasoning that covers both the top and bottom of the bagel, pitched by business administration freshman Elizabeth Darst. 
  • VLab Education, a virtual reality (VR) company creating realistic VR chemistry labs for underfunded high school educators and homeschool programs, pitched by polymers and coatings science graduate student Adam Langevin. 

Cal Poly alumni Sara Glaser (Business Administration, ’21) and Madison Lewandowski (Business Administration, ’22) were the event’s keynote speakers. The pair co-founded HiLite, a San Luis Obispo-based fitness startup that connects users with a joint-safe workout solution that reverses muscle loss.

During their 15-minute address, Lewandowski said her entrepreneurial journey began three years ago at the CIE’s 2019 Elevator Pitch Competition. Throughout their college careers, Glaser and Lewandowski participated in several CIE programs and competitions, including Cal Poly Startup Marathon — where they met in 2019 — the Hatchery, the Summer Accelerator and Innovation Quest (iQ).  

To watch this year’s Elevator Pitch Competition presentations, visit the CIE YouTube channel at   

About the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The CIE opens a world of entrepreneurial opportunities to Cal Poly students, faculty and community members and promotes entrepreneurial activity and dialogue across the university and throughout San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit