Hope Central Urban Arts Triumphs as Grand Winner of LEAP’s Final Hatching Business Pitch Competition, Propelling After-School Arts Programs into the Spotlight
Protein Pints by Michigan State University student grabs second place
In a night of fierce competition, eight local entrepreneurs pitched at the final Hatching, Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s (LEAP) business pitch competition. Entrepreneurs in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee counties were encouraged to apply for a chance to pitch their idea. Over $5000 in cash prizes were awarded at the final Hatching.
The final event took place on Aug. 10 at Ellison Brewing Company in REO town and marked a decade of empowering entrepreneurs and innovation. The final pitch lineup included: a sustainable clothing line, a high protein, low sugar ice cream, a delicious treat that curbs addictions, an after-school arts program focused on supporting those with ADD/ADHD, a QTPOC-friendly event planning group, AI-driven digital content creation, an online platform that connects car buyers with dealers, and a mobile notary signing service.
“The Hatching ignited Lansing’s entrepreneurial spirit over the past decade. These entrepreneurs were not just pitching – they were propelling their dreams into reality. A huge thank you to all who’ve fueled this innovation fire,” said Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP. “A huge thank you to all the key players that helped get this event off the ground to support the community.”
The top prize went to AnnaMaria Horn, who took home $2,500 for her idea Hope Central Urban Arts—a before and after-school program that teaches the performing and technical arts to students. Horn’s pitch persuaded the judges with its well-defined explanation of the importance of affordable arts education classes in the Lansing region.
“The funds will allow me to purchase additional equipment so that I can service more students at one time. I am so thrilled to have won first place,” said AnnaMaria Horn, founder of Hope Central Urban Arts.
The $1,500 second-place prize went to Paul Reiss for his idea Protein Pints—a high protein, low sugar ice cream. Reiss is currently a student at Michigan State University that was looking for the perfect opportunity to showcase Protein Pints to expand into more stores and accelerate their growth.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the final Hatching this year. Winning second place means we will be able to accelerate our growth! A huge thank you to LEAP and the community for believing in us,” said Paul Reiss co-founder of Protein Pints.
The event reunited past participants and notable winners in a final show of support for the community. Among them was Nikki Thompson Frazier, a standout victor, and owner of Sweet Encounter Bakery. Frazier initially wowed the judges with her delicious gluten-free cupcakes in a jar during the 2015 Hatching event. Now, in the final Hatching competition, she not only served as a judge but also was selected to provide her cupcakes in a jar to event attendees.
The impact the Hatching has had over the past decade is immense. Over six hundred people applied to pitch their early-stage ideas, and more than ninety winners have gone on to grow their businesses in the Lansing region. Over $150,000 in funding to early-stage businesses have been provided, but the connections made at these events are immense for our community.
The Hatching was made possible by the generous support of many different sponsors over the past decade. For the Final Hatching, Lake Trust Credit Union and Goldman Sachs fueled our cash prizes. Over the years our sponsors have included the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), AF Group, CASE Credit Union, Cinnaire, MSU Desk Drawer Foundation, and MSU Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Although LEAP will not be running the Hatching anymore, there are now plenty of opportunities to support early-stage entrepreneurs which include events and pitch competitions with MSU Research Foundation, Startup Grind Lansing, Michigan Women Forward (MWF), and many others. LEAP will continue to support entrepreneurial activities across the Greater Lansing Region. Sign up for LEAPlit—an entrepreneurial newsletter to be the first to know of exciting opportunities, programs, funding, and business support. Sign up here.