'Selfie' T-Shirt Business Wins The Hatching

LANSING — From a kitty litter removal service to an innovative hops farm, August’s Hatching event brought together a plethora of new business ideas.

Celebrities and pop culture figures have popularized the trend of t-shirts with selfies — photographs taken of oneself with the camera at arm’s length — printed on them. Winner’s Catalog, a service that places a selfie on a t-shirt for the consumer to wear, was voted as the winning idea by judges. DeShawn Leonard, founder of Winner’s Catalog, walked away with $1,000 and other prizes to start his new business.

Winners of monthly The Hatching events receive $1,000 from a monthly sponsor. This month’s sponsorship came from M3 Group, as well as legal services provided by Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis & Gotting P.C., a promotional pitch video produced by Michigan Creative, and six months free rent at the New Economic Opportunity Center, a Lansing business incubator. Additionally, Winner’s Catalog will compete again against other monthly winners in December for the chance at receiving $10,000 towards their business.

“I had such a great time at The Hatching event supporting the entrepreneurial growth of our region,” said Tiffany Dowling, CEO and president of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency in downtown Lansing. “I am proud to be a part of this community, one that supports and encourages entrepreneurship and innovative ideas like the ones we saw on Wednesday night.”

“The variety of new ideas and creative ways local entrepreneurs seek to create jobs and solve everyday challenges is remarkable,” said Paul Jaques, Director of Student and Community Engagement at Spartan Innovations. “Every month, both the presenters and the audience create a stronger community for supporting success and failure, making the Lansing area a great place to launch a startup.”

The Hatching competition was created by NEO Center, along with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, the capital region’s economic development agency, and Spartan Innovations, MSU’s research business accelerator. It’s intended as a monthly networking event and contest for budding entrepreneurs to experience pitching and development of their ideas into working, local businesses.

Each month, entrepreneurs are invited to submit their business startup idea to the website, www.thehatching.org. Through a popular vote, five ideas move to the final stage and those entrepreneurs are asked to pitch at The Hatching. Each innovator has the opportunity to pitch their idea for five minutes in front of a panel of judges and their peers.

“I think it is a fun idea that capitalizes on current trend.” said Tony Willis, manager of business acceleration at LEAP. “People love taking selfies and posting pictures for everyone to see, this seems to be a natural progression of the trend. We are eager to see where DeShawn takes his idea next.”

The Hatching is open to public and takes place the last Wednesday of each month at Beggar’s Banquet in East Lansing at 6:00 p.m. The next Hatching event will take place Sept. 24. To find out more information or to submit an idea, visit www.thehatching.org.

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