Shopping with Khai Claims Top Prize at LEAP’s March Virtual Hatching Event

Customer-Focused Personal Shopping Startup Fills Community Need

LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 26, 2021) — Five budding female entrepreneurs pitched at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s (LEAP) March 11 virtual Hatching event, the quarterly pitch competition’s first event of 2021.

March’s pitch lineup included an apparel and gift boutique geared toward the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the first historically African-American intercollegiate Greek lettered sorority; a dating app intended to give people with “nerdy” interests a space to connect; a community support organization that aims to help people heal from trauma through the benefits of lavender; and a personal organization service and movement.

Along with a great lineup of business pitches, the event featured an expert judging panel, including Jeff Wesley of Red Cedar Ventures, Calvin Jones of the Lansing Board of Water and Light, Laurie Lonsdorf of the Michigan Capital Region Small Business Development Center, Matt Jones of Allen Neighborhood Center and Julia Veale of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and an alt-folk musical halftime performance by local singer-songwriter Abbey Hoffman during the judges’ deliberations.

The top prize went to current LEAP One and All participant Khailea Pond’s Shopping with Khai, a customer-oriented personal shopping service providing an affordable alternative to other major personal shopping services with the convenience of multiple store options in one delivery.

Pond’s service addresses a market gap by offering the option of multiple errands in one trip; customers no longer need to identify and pay for separate shoppers to pick up groceries, prescriptions and other necessities. Additionally, Shopping with Khai eliminates the product markup many existing shopping services have and allows customers to use their SNAP benefits and WIC for low-income families.

She also underscored this service’s timeliness as delivery and personal shopping have become increasingly necessary for those most at risk from COVID-19. The convenience of having all errands taken care of with one fee and one shopper helps provide an affordable way to meet customers’ needs, and the lack of additional markups increases service accessibility for the elderly and low-income families.

Judges enjoyed Pond’s pitch, which opened with a success story and discussion of her existing and growing client base. Additionally, they appreciated her research-based approach, highlighting her knowledge of competitors and what makes her service distinct and a good fit target market and price point for the region.

“Winning the Hatching will allow me to use all the information I learned from [LEAP’s] One and All [program] and start moving forward,” said Pond. “I’m currently setting up a website and I will use some of the money towards orders for those in need and also marketing.”

The Hatching is a business pitch competition produced by LEAP. This year’s virtual series provides one winning entrepreneur from each event with $2,000 in cash support and a connection to valuable business services. Loomis Law and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation sponsored the March 11 event.

“We are very excited to kick off another year of virtual Hatching pitch competitions to support the creative and innovative ideas in Lansing’s entrepreneurial community,” said Anum Mughal, LEAP’s manager of new ventures. “Though unplanned, we were also pleased to feature five women in entrepreneurship for this event, as March is Women’s History Month.”

The next virtual Hatching event is June 10, 2021. People interested in participating and pitching at this event can submit their ideas by June 2 at


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. Selected ideas are pitched in front of a live audience and panel of judges.