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Lansing Region’s Strong Support for Entrepreneurs Highlighted at LEAP’s November Hatching Event

From gamified science learning to empowering youth athletes, entrepreneurs of all kinds joined the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and the greater Lansing community on Nov. 20 for the Hatching business pitch competition, where three business ideas emerged victorious.

The November winner was Cytopolis by Johan De Bruin,  an online strategy game that teaches microbiology in a shared ecosystem, using economic concepts to trade resources between players — think Clash of Clans with an educational twist. A software engineer with Riot Games for the past six years, De Bruin quit his job four months ago to develop free-to-play educational games with his brother, including the recently-released English grammar game, GramMars Wars.

Now, De Bruin’s win at the Hatching will allow him to bring Cytopolis closer to fruition as well.

“Thanks to the business community of Lansing and everyone involved, [The Hatching] is a fantastic way to help entrepreneurs to motivate and pursue their dreams,” said De Bruin. “Now, Cytopolis is in full development mode: building a team, a prototype and following the plan that the pitch deck required us to trace.”

Second place went to David Kanouse of The Latona Project, a platform to choreograph robots and automation in a process called displacement art. Kanouse recently returned to the Lansing area after living in France for the past seven years and is a former professional dancer and Wall Street executive. Now, he focuses on technologies like The Latona Project that bring arts to marketable industries.

“The Hatching was a great experience for practicing the presentation and developing the business plan,” said Kanouse. “The dreams of the project are much more a reality thanks to this contest and the associated community. Moving forward, we will look to develop a prototype, present its business potential and seek venture capital funding.”

Shayna Allen’s Tämbwoy, a youth sports apparel brand aimed at inspring young women to play sports, not just for the physical benefit, but also to excel in areas of life off the court, won the crowd favorite Glory award.

The Hatching is a business pitch competition produced by LEAP in partnership with local businesses and provides winning entrepreneurs with a share of $3,000 in cash support, as well as connection to valuable business services. Regularly held throughout the year, LEAP’s Hatching offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch new ideas to professional judges in front of a live audience. The November Hatching event was sponsored in part by LEAP.

“The Hatching provides aspiring entrepreneurs in the Lansing area with a platform to elevate their message and take their dreams from ideation to market,” said Anum Mughal, manager of new ventures at LEAP. “This event is one of the best ways to meet other founders, mentors, potential investors and more throughout our region.”

People interested in participating and pitching at LEAP’s Hatching competition can submit their ideas to www.thehatching.org. Dates for The Hatching events in 2020 will be announced soon.

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 \lsdl