The program was launched to foster entrepreneurial education and interest among high school and college students throughout the region. The competition, which started in 2015, is a Shark Tank style competition that gives students the opportunity to present their business plan ideas, receive constructive feedback from a panel of judges and compete for prize money.  Modifications to this year’s in-person program included a two-minute video pitch, 200-300 word abstract, poster session and final 15-minute pitch that was reviewed by judges with comments and feedback

Participants had the opportunity to attend side sessions which included topics such as: Business Negotiations,” Marketing Your Business, Creating and Interpreting Financial Reports for Startups and Using Data Analytics to Launch Your Startup. In addition to the side sessions, keynote speaker Michael Kujak, president and CEO of Francis Medical, presented the “Importance of Business Education in Technology-Based Entrepreneurship.

A total of 16 high school teams and 19 college teams pitched their business ideas for this year’s competition. Finalists in the high school category included 10 teams from four different schools.  The university category had 10 teams from four different universities. 

Winners of the competition included:

University Track

  • $2,000 1st Place: Dissapex Whytneigh Duffie from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

  • $1,500 2nd Place: Pony Engineering Kaleb Roth from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

  • $1,000 3rd Place: Greenlight Bionics Megan McCray from the University of South Dakota

High School Track

  • $1,000 1st Place: PetWeb Shimari Nichols from Sioux City Community Schools Career Academy

  • $750 2nd Place: Free Bird RC Pack Forster from Howard, SD

  • $500 – 3rd Place:Dollar lawn Mitchell Collins, Tony Bartels, Cameron Whitesell, Jordan Jenness, from Sioux City Community Schools Career Academy

Crowd Favorite

  • $250 – “J&S Supplements” - Sean McClelland and Jack Durst from the University of South Dakota

This year’s competition included the following guest judges:

  • Jeff Eckoff, City of Sioux Falls

  • Erik Muckey, USD

  • Denise Gutzetta, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

  • Ashley Lipp, Lloyd Company

  • Noah Shepard, USD Foundation

  • Allie Hartzler, City of Sioux Falls

  • Meghann Jarchow, USD

  • Mike Fredrick, Francis Medical

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