When Mark Quiles, a Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM) finance and marketing major, graduates this December, he will continue full time on an entrepreneurial path that has already won him accolades. In 2016, Quiles launched League of Lifeguards, a company dedicated to improving water safety by recruiting and certifying lifeguards and matching them with jobs at pools, parties and other places and events involving swimming. He says League of Lifeguards has been able to protect more than 10,000 lives to date.
This achievement, coupled with the company’s concept, recently earned Quiles second place and a $1,000 cash prize in the UPitchNJ 2018 Business Model Competition, hosted at Montclair State University. Sponsored by the New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium, “which represents the entrepreneurship education programs at New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities,” UPitchNJ seeks to both spotlight and encourage college entrepreneurs. At its annual competition, undergraduate student teams present their startup ideas to an independent panel of judges and are evaluated on innovativeness and execution as well as a written executive summary and oral presentation.
“It was really a humbling experience getting to see different entrepreneurs and learning more about their drive and inspiration,” said the Garfield, N.J. native, who also took first place in the 2017 Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge, sponsored by NJIT, Capital One and the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation. “To be honest, when it came down to judging I was iffy because I felt some teams had presented better than I did, but as soon as I heard League of Lifeguards called to the stage I immediately felt shocks of joy enter my body.”
Quiles certainly knows his way around water. In addition to working as a lifeguard since he was 15, he has served as a lifeguard instructor, swim instructor and aquatics director. As CEO of League of Lifeguards, he is applying his MTSM education to project management, financial management, and market research and analysis.
While he started League of Lifeguards using social media, he is now developing an app for the company that will function like Airbnb and Uber, and looks to gain market share within the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania markets. Further down the road, he would like to venture west with the company to California, Texas and Arizona.
“I don’t think I will ever move away from social media, considering more and more marketing efforts are actually driving people toward social media,” he noted about his business plan. “League of Lifeguards is actually creating content that can provide value to our current and future customers. We want people to always have a reason to either view our social media or use our app when it’s released.”
This summer, Quiles and League of Lifeguards will participate in the Lean Startup Accelerator Program at NJIT with Associate Professor of Finance Michael Ehrlich (Quiles’ adviser) and a team of NJIT MTSM faculty.
So what’s his take on being an entrepreneur? The most challenging thing is having the patience to realize progress and the most rewarding is making milestones, he offered. “Every entrepreneur in some way wants to be successful, but it takes time, focus, persistence and willpower... Every achievement is something to feel proud of, but it’s also a reminder to keep working harder in order to truly build out a vision.”