09:30 AM

Student Wins Quick Pitch for Self-Defense Business Model

By Bri Phillips

Business student Marisa Casarez received $1,000 for winning Cal State San Marcos’ spring 2023 Innovation Hub Quick Pitch competition for her subscription-based business model “Regain the Power Self Defense.”

The Quick Pitch contest occurs each semester and is formatted similarly to the TV show “Shark Tank.” Quick Pitch judges provide feedback to contestants about their business model and three winners are chosen. 

Psychological sciences student Natalie Greenwood-Mendez placed second and received $500 for her business idea “Open Ear,” which is an employer-sponsored, virtual service to support workers by providing frequent, ongoing sessions with mental health providers. Business student Jakob Hatlestad placed third and also received $500 for his model "VRify,”  a nonprofit focused on integrating virtual reality into school curriculum.

Casarez’s pitch was a transformative subscription-based self-defense training that empowers women to confidently respond to real-life scenarios.   

“I honestly did not anticipate winning this contest,” Casarez said. “Despite the nerves and anxiety, I was so happy and pleased to win. Winning this contest not only helped me prove to myself that I can be a successful businesswoman, but also that the issue of violence against women is important to others.”

Casarez’s winning pitch idea bloomed in her entrepreneurship class while working on an in-class project. She combined her passion for martial arts and business, and developed a model that would help protect women who have suffered violence and sexual assault. “Regain the Power Self Defense” would teach women life-saving self-defense techniques.   

“As a first-degree black belt, I am passionate about sharing my 12 years of experience with others,” Casarez said. “I love teaching younger students, older generations and especially connecting with women on a deeper level about safety tips and tactics. I then saw the opportunity to combine my love for martial arts with this class assignment.” 

Casarez’s training in martial arts consisted of how to react and defend herself in real-life scenarios. She realized how important it is for everyone to have access to similar training, and how women especially would benefit from receiving safety tips and tactics. 

“In today's society, the issue of gender-based violence has not declined, but rather continues to rise,” Casarez said. “There is little recognition of the actual statistics regarding violence against women, especially children, teens and young adults. I firmly believe that there is not enough training on real-life applications as well as ways to help people who have been assaulted.” 

Casarez plans to pursue her dream as a special effects makeup artist after graduating next spring. 

“Although my career path is to head for the film and makeup industry, my heart always goes back to martial arts,” Casarez said. “ I can definitely see myself opening a studio, helping grow an existing studio, becoming a part-time instructor or even volunteering my time to help teach the jujitsu class here on campus.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

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