Alan Tholkes, president and CEO of Medthera Inc., has been chosen the 2018 FAST-TRACK Challenge grand prize winner. The Shakopee-based company developed the NeuroWalk, the first walk therapy station designed to restore health and function for those who cannot stand, walk or have difficulty walking. The product will be marketed to the 6.5 million people who use a walking assisted device and 2.3 million wheelchair users.

Second place was presented to Melanie Cole and Vicky DeRouchey of ugo wear LLC, of Prior Lake. The company offers a compact electronics dry bag, with ugoZIPTM survival suit waterproof zipper technology. Third place honors went to Paul and Lisa Atkinson of Atkinson Artisan Foods for their BIG MOUTH pistachios, currently found in more than 20 locations.

The three winners were among five finalists who were selected from applications submitted in August. Over the past month, the finalists have met with representatives from Technology Village’s Board of Directors, Open to Business and First Stop Shop to practice their pitches and fine tune their business plans. The remaining finalists included Catboxpro and Gifthorse.

The panel of judges included:

  • Angela Heikes, president and CEO of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Gaming Enterprise
  • Mike Derheim, co-founder and chairman of The Nerdery
  • Charles Shannon, VP of corporate development for Equus Holdings
  • Kristin Haugen, principal and managing attorney at KC Haugen Law, LLC.
  • Justin Schultz, district sales manager for Wells Fargo’s SBA Lending

Sponsors of the 2018 FAST-TRACK included the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Scott County Community Development Agency & First Stop Shop, Minnesota Valley Electric Coop’s Operation Round-Up, Wells Fargo Bank, State Bank of Belle Plaine and Klein Bank. Professional Service Providers included Argos Risk; KC Haugen Law, LLC; Michael Beach Coaching and Consulting; Technology Village Prior Lake; Open to Business; the New Prague Chamber of Commerce; Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce; Savage Chamber of Commerce; and Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau. Nearly $18,000 in start-up cash and professional services were awarded to the three winners.

This was the second annual Scott County FAST-TRACK Challenge. The inaugural event, held in October 2017, received the Economic Development Association of Minnesota’s Program of the Year in January 2018. The 2018 FAST-TRACK Challenge event was recorded and will be available to view on the FAST-TRACK Challenge website in November.

The Scott County FAST-TRACK Challenge is a free, annual business competition designed to fast-track start-up and first-stage businesses to success. For more information, to sign up as a sponsor or service provider for 2019, or to register for the October 24, 2019 event, please visit: 

Judges Present the 1st Place Award to Medthera for the NueroWalk

Above: left to right: Mike Derheim, Justin Schultz, Alan Tholkes of Medthera -Winner of the FAST-TRACK Challenge; and Judges Kristin Haugen, Angela Heikes and Charles Shannon.

Below, Judges are pictured with Melanie Cole and Vicky DeRouchey, Co-Founders of ugo wear, LLC,
2nd Place Winners.

Above: FAST-TRACK Challenge Judges present the 3rd Place Award to Paul and Lisa Atkinson,
Atkinson Artisan Foods for the BIG MOUTH Pistachios.