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Students Connect Businesses with Customers


When Carnegie Mellon student Mark Tressler runs around the track field, he kicks up more than a little dirt. He kicks around ideas. Big ones. Ones he hopes will take his new business venture to the next level.

Tressler and his track-teammates-turned-business-partners Will Lutz, Breck Fresen and Geoff Misek recently launched, an online marketplace that connects small businesses with customers — and offers free websites.

"Entrepreneurship is addictive," said Tressler, who keeps note cards and a pen next to his bed ready for the next big idea. "It's all about the adventure and the thrill of creating something out of nothing."

The site's name is derived from the word maven — an expert who freely shares his or her knowledge and holds businesses accountable. To date, Mave has 1,700 registered users including 700 businesses.     

"For businesses that post websites on Google, it's hard to get high on the search ranking," Tressler explained. "But on, anyone seeking your services will receive your business name and website, and you as a business will receive their request as a potential customer."

Tressler and the rest of the foursome put in about 30 hours a week on the project, sometimes more.

"Mark's the dreamer," explained Lutz, an economics major who calls himself Mave's chief operations officer. "I like to think of myself as the practical get-it-done guy of the group. While Mark is dreaming big picture, I like to talk about what needs to happen over the next few days."

Fresen, a computer science student, and Misek, a student in computer and electrical engineering, do the coding, helping Tressler articulate his ideas for the site within a web application framework and adding in user-requested features such as browsing and messaging.

"Ideally, I'd like Mave to be a place where anyone can take any idea they have or anything they're passionate about and make a living from it," said Tressler.

Mind you, they're doing this at the same time they're managing a full course load and training for cross-country. These students have the fine art of multitasking down.

"On a 12-mile run, you can solve a lot of problems," Tressler said.

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