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Winners announced for DSU’s 1st Entrepreneurs Day

April 16, 2021

Being an entrepreneur is scary, said Mona Lisa Perez, so “your passion needs to be more powerful than your fears,” she told high school and college students at Dakota State’s first-ever Entrepreneurs Day on April 10.

Her colleague, Tyler Blake, advised the student to “Believe in yourself first,” then you can embody what you are selling. Perez and Blake are founders and owners of  Wäke Clothing in Sioux Falls.

The students heard from Blake and Perez, and two other speakers who offered advice on the entrepreneurial process.

Blaine Crissman advised being creative, finding a market, and solving a problem as they develop a business. Crissman is a founding partner with South Dakota Equity Partners (SDEP) and a member of the CEO Advisory Group at Dakota State.

Matt Paulson, founder of MarketBeat, explained the process to find investors, and offered tips for strategic ways to explain the problem an entrepreneur is trying to solve. Paulson is a DSU alumnus and namesake of the Paulson Cyber Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center at DSU.

The event was held at the Paulson Center on the DSU Campus. The new center will provide a tech-transfer, entrepreneurship, and business start-up center to work with both intellectual property from the Madison Cyber Labs and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) student club on campus.

Entrepreneurs Day coincided with the culmination of DSU’s 3rd annual business plan competition. The competition is put on by the College of Business and Information Systems and the CEO Club. This year’s sponsors include Heartland Consumers Power District, Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC), DSU’s Research and Economic Development Office.

Winners in the high school division were:

  • Megan Nash, Northwestern High School, 1st place for Busy Bees
  • Cloie Stevens, Marshall (MN) High School, 2nd place for Farmer’s Market Friend
  • Dawson Johnson, Brandon Valley High School 3rd place for Sound Premium, LLC
Megan NashMegan Nash Cloie StevensCloie Stevens Dawson Johnson (left), Cloie Stevens, Megan Nash
Dawson Johnson (left), Cloie Stevens, Megan Nash
Kim Yip ChiokKim Yip Chiok Le Ba Nghia Thai (right) and colleagueLe Ba Nghia Thai and Y Mai Kruttika SutraveKruttika Sutrave

Collegiate winners were:

  • Kim Yip Chiok, SD School of Mines and Technology, 1st place for BioTape
  • Le Ba Nghia Thai (and team), SD School of Mines and Technology, 2nd place for Chi-X
  • Kruttika Sutrave, Dakota State University, 3rd place for Perfect Outfit

The student pitches were judged by Paulson, Matt Willard  from Augustana University, and Trent Sorbe, CEO and co-founder of  Falls FinTech. First place in each division paid $1,000; second place, $500, and third place $250.

The speakers and pitches can be viewed on DSU’s YouTube Channel.  

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