Hoops University Lands a Slam Dunk at First Virtual Hathcing Event

Basketball-Focused Startup Takes Home Top Prize at LEAP’s June 11 Hatching

LANSING, Mich. (June 23, 2020) – At the June 11 Hatching, the theme of resilience was found not just in each entrepreneur’s presentation, but also within the event itself. In response to the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19), the monthly pitch competition has gone completely virtual with the help of Facebook Live and Streamyard.

Seven aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of judges and online spectators, showcasing their take on the theme of resilience. June’s judging panel included Ray Moore of the Lansing Board of Water and Light, Zachary Etzin of the City of Lansing, Jordan Davis of the Capital Area IT Council, Matt Thornton from Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan and Amanda Bright from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the venture sponsor for the first four 2020 Hatching events.

Each Virtual Hatching will also host a local performing artist during the judges’ deliberation, with Ozay Moore of All of the Above Hip Hop Academy performing at the June 11 event.

Top prize went to James Jenkins’ Hoops University, a basketball startup that aims to help every player reach their basketball goals, one dribble at a time. Jenkins hopes to offer player development, leagues, camps and clinics, events and more for basketball players of all ages. Jenkins brings several years of experience as a player at both Lansing Everett High School and Michigan State University and as a college-level coach at Indiana Tech, leading them to back-to-back conference championships and qualification for the NAI national championship. He became inspired to create Hoops University after identifying a lack of opportunities for young players to showcase and cultivate their skills.

Jenkins plans to partner with local gyms across greater Lansing to faciliate clinics and commercial space for player development basketball, with a long-term goal of securing his own four-court, multipurpose gymnasium. His win at the Hatching provides $2,000 of seed money, legal support, market research assistance and mentoring.

“The funding provided by LEAP and The Hatching will help cover expenses such as gym rentals and small equipment purchases such as workout bands, cones and basketballs,” said Jenkins. “With these covered, I have a good first step to get the ball rolling.”

Jenkins hopes to start small group training as early as July, pending any complications from COVID-19, with a fall/winter basketball league launching in September. Jenkin’s preparation shined through in the pitch for Hoops University, where he provided a detailed breakdown of expenses and several potential partners including previous Hatching Glory winner, TämBwoy.

In true resilient spirit, Jenkins had no problem adapting to a virtual court for the competition, even leveraging event partner The Fledge as a professional pitch space.

“I was very impressed with the virtual Hatching event. It was very well put together and a great experience,” added Jenkins. “I thought it relieved a little bit of anxiety presenting virtually rather than to a crowd of people who you are looking to keep engaged throughout the presentation.”

The Hatching is a business pitch competition produced by LEAP. This year, LEAP has partnered with the Fledge, a one-of-a-kind space that promotes radical inclusion and provides a pathway to remove barriers in entrepreneurship, in our efforts to attract all ethnicities, cultures and gender. This year’s virtual series provides one winning entrepreneur from each event with $2,000 in cash support, as well as connection to valuable business services. The 2020 Hatching series revolves around a central theme of resilience with the potential for specific sub-themes for each monthly event.

“The Hatching is an outlet for members of the community to showcase their business ideas, gain support and make valuable connections as they begin their entrepreneurial journey,” said Anum Mughal, manager of new ventures at LEAP. “This year, we have elevated our commitment to inclusion and equity in entrepreneurship through our partnership with the Fledge, intentional community outreach and strategic selection of judging panels.”

People interested in participating and pitching at LEAP’s Virtual Hatching competition can submit their ideas to www.thehatching.org. Submissions for the July 9 event, held in collaboration with Eaton Rapids District Library, are being accepted through Monday, July 6.

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About LEAP

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all—working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing region.

About The Hatching

The Hatching is a regularly occurring business pitch competition founded by LEAP, established as part of a community wide effort to support local entrepreneurs. Participants submit business and product ideas through the Hatching’s online portal, where the public subsequently votes forward the ideas that will be pitched in front of a live audience and panel of judges.