Corey Meyer and Charlie Pehrson

Corey Meyer (left) and Charlie Pehrson stand in front of one of their Steelhead Outdoors safes in their showroom.

The Scott County Fast-Track Challenge announced Monday that Steelhead Outdoors, of Prior Lake, is the 2021 Fast-Track Challenge first place winner. Second place was presented to Baby Know, based in Shakopee; third place honors went to MASH, which is proposing to build a facility in Savage; and fourth place was awarded to Chefs Crest, also based in Savage.

The annual business competition is designed to "fast-track" start-up and first-stage businesses to success. Approximately $15,000 in start-up cash and professional services were awarded to the three winners. 

The winners were among five finalists who were selected from applications submitted between April and August. Over the past month, the finalists met with representatives from the Scott County Center for Entrepreneurship Board of Advisors and NextStage MN to practice their pitches and fine tune their business plans.

Here's some information on this year's finalists:

Steelhead Outdoors: An innovative safe company offering the only modular, fire-insulated made-in-USA gun safe available quickly on the market. Long-time friends, engineers and avid outdoorsmen Corey Meyer and Charlie Pehrson, created the patent-pending product that is now being manufactured in Prior Lake. They plan to add welders, assemblers, material handlers, design engineers and sales/customer service staff to their team as they grow.

Baby Know: A team of early childhood professionals developed an online video program focusing on infant growth and development. The educational programming empowers parents to teach their babies activities including language and play, sensory processing development and general parent education. The program also provides parents with mindfulness and positive affirmation activities to do for themselves, with their babies and/or with their families. The company, developed by Candi Seil, MPP; Caitlin Raaz, PhD, CCC-SLP; Bethany DeJarnatt, MOT, OTR/L; Wendy Walz, early childhood/parent educator; and Cinnamin Theisen, early childhood/parent educator, is based in Shakopee.

MASH: Thomas Buske, Steve McGuiggan and Nate Stemper “pitched” their business plans to the Fast-Track judges. They currently operate MASH in Eagan, a sports and human development company. They are proposing a new, proactive approach to training athletes and inspiring an entire community of growth with a brand-new facility in Savage. Their current team includes strength training and a youth baseball club. They will expand services in physical therapy, chiropractic, nutrition and psychology, providing collaborative resources for their clients. MASH will continue to promote a positive environment as a way to engage and develop the next generation, through the creation of space and programming, coaching and culture.

Chefs Crest: Matthew Folefac created Chefs Crest, an online marketplace for homemade food that makes it easier for homebased food businesses to sell their delicious products to individuals in their communities and beyond. The online platform allows businesses to gain customers through Chef Crest’s marketing strategies and benefit from online transactions. Folefac is a registered cottage food producer with a background in neuroscience. The company, based in Savage, incorporated in 2021.

The panel of judges included Angela Heikes, President and CEO of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Gaming Enterprise; Charles Shannon, Senior VP of Corporate Development, Datasite; Joseph Fittante, Corporate Practice Chair, Larkin Hoffman; Kirt Briggs, Mayor of the City of Prior Lake; and Sarah Jones, Chief Growth Officer of MemoryWell.

Sponsors of the 2021 Fast-Track included Silver Sponsors: Larkin Hoffman, Roundbank, NeonLizard Creative Marketing & Design and the Scott County CDA. Bronze Sponsors included Minnesota Valley Electric Coop’s Operation Round-Up and First Bank & Trust New Prague. Copper Sponsors include the New Prague Chamber of Commerce, Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce, Savage Chamber of Commerce and Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

The 2021 Fast-Track Challenge event was recorded, and segments will be available to view on the Fast-Track Challenge website at www.ScottCountyFastTrack in November.

For more information, to sign up as a sponsor or service provider for 2022 or register for the 2022 event, visit www.scottcountyfasttrack.com

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