2021 Giant Vision Winners Announced

Special Events


South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry 
PO Box 190
Pierre, SD  57501
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2021
Contact:  David Owen, President of the South Dakota Chamber at 605-366-2669 or
Mary Anne Boyd, VP Program Services of the South Dakota Chamber at 605-260-8215 or maryanneb@sdchamber.biz

2021 Governor’s Giant Vision Winners Announced

Pierre, SD - As host of the Governor’s Giant Vision entrepreneurial business competition, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry event Chairman Brad Wheeler, President of Wheeler Manufacturing, announced the top winners of the 2021 business and student business competitions.

After a preliminary judging process that reduced the field of applicants to six business finalists and nine student finalists, the competition concluded with final judging activities Wednesday, April 28 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.  The awards were presented after the lunch program where competitors heard from Rob Hrabe, CEO and Co-Founder of VRC Metal Systems in Box Elder.  VRC Metal, a first-place winner at the 2015 competition and today employs 100 in western South Dakota.  Checks were presented by First Gentleman Bryon Noem and GOED Commissioner Steve Westra.
2021 marks the seventeenth year of the Giant Vision Business Competition.  The following winners were selected as this year’s entrepreneurial standouts.   

The first place $20,000 winner was Hydrolyst, LLC (a process to reduce the production cost and life span of electrocatalysts used in hydrogen fuel cells), Kirstie Gildemeister and Kelsey Fitzgerald, Rapid City.
In second place, winning $10,000, was Halogi Hot Sauce (a premium line of sauces), Luke Davidson and Nick Curry of Brookings and White.
In a tie for third place, winning $4,000 each, were Artic Sombrero (a unique lid designed to interface with 12 oz canned beverages and replace the lid on a standard 30 oz Yeti style tumbler), Ron Heiman, Sioux Falls and Sternum Protect (a device to assist with recovery after open chest surgeries), Angel Rollag and Amanda Rollag, Sioux Falls.
In fifth place, winning $2,000, was Shield Swift (a rapid deployable weather protection device for the motorcycle market), Denise Robertson and Duane Langenfeld, Rapid City.
Sponsors of the Giant Vision Business Competition are the State of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; Black Hills Energy; Christiansen Land & Cattle Ltd.; Dacotah Bank; First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard; MidAmerican Energy; Valley Queen Cheese Factory; Wheeler Manufacturing and Xcel Energy. 

The Giant Vision Competition is a program of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, located in Pierre.  SD Chamber President David Owen stated, “The goal of this program is to encourage people to explore being a business owner and to create an exciting future while also expanding South Dakota’s economy.  We have worked hard to produce an event that will benefit all of the businesses participating.  While the prize money will help the finalists, the contacts and rigor required to be a qualifier will prepare each entrepreneur to advance their business idea.”

2021 was the fifteenth year of a college student competition. Entries were received from across South Dakota.  Following a thorough review of the original applications, nine finalists were selected to compete.  The winners of the student competition were: 

First place $5,000:  Fomeno, (a platform to connect thrift shoppers with online stores for specific items), Brigit Blote and Payton Ryz, University of South Dakota.
In second place, winning $4,000, Prairie BioTechnology (extending shelf life of fruit with a food preservative derived from an agricultural byproduct), Matthew Cole, Logan Wolf, Nolan Lee and Jordan Traub-Jensen, South Dakota State University.
In third place, winning $3,000, Chi-X, (biomaterials that address surgical and post-surgical bleeding), Nghia Thai and Nhu Y Mai, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
In fourth place, winning $2,000, Lafdr, (a “no photo” dating app matching users based on common interests), Morgan Vagts and Debbie Liknes, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. 
In fifth place, winning $1,000, GreenLight Bionics (product development for treatment of amputees and impaired motor capability patients), Marc-Antoine Niamba, Megan McCray and Alex Steinley, University of South Dakota.

Giant Vision Student Competition Sponsors:  the State of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Citibank N.A. and South Dakota EPSCoR. 

The Governor’s Giant Vision Business Competition and Governor’s Giant Vision Student Competition were established to help citizens realize that South Dakota is the very best place to start a successful business.  The program was designed as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to compete for seed money and a chance to achieve their dream.  This South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry program is chaired by Brad Wheeler, President of Wheeler Manufacturing in Lemmon. 


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