Lansing Built to Last : A startup jackpot

Lansing Built to Last was a local startup competition held in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We realized that in order for our community to thrive, businesses must have a strategy in place and be prepared to make it through the toughest of times.

The competition invited all entrepreneurs and idea-makers to submit their emergency-resistant business proposals for the opportunity to win a year’s worth of services to help launch their business. Ideas had to require a physical space downtown, withstand emergency circumstances, and enhance the community that surrounds it.

Who and Why

We’re a collection of local sponsor organizations that want to strengthen downtown Lansing—especially for when times get tough. We wanted to find businesses that bring people together, even when we’re apart. That’s why we pooled together our ideas and resources to award the winning business a suite of crucial services to get them up and running through their first year of operation.

Winner, Winner

Congratulations to Sweet Encounter Kids Culinary Academy on winning Lansing Built to Last!

Sweet Encounter offers a monthly kids’ subscription box cooking club and hands-on culinary classes infused with STEM activities designed to educate and cultivate a love for cooking in kids. Each kit will include three themed recipes with step-by-step instructions, a utensil of the month, a shopping list, and fun activities. Beyond that, the kit will also include thoughtful conversation cards that allow parents to connect with their kids.

To say we’re excited for Sweet Encounter to open its doors would be an understatement. Here’s to making downtown Lansing stronger, more connected, and a little bit tastier.


We also want to show love to all our finalists who made our decision incredibly difficult. Your hard work, dedication, and vision shined through in your business proposals, and we look forward to your efforts coming to fruition.

Best of luck on your journeys ahead!

  • Capital City Sweets
  • Dancing with the Nordes
  • Hooked
  • Lansing Candle Co.
  • The Lansing Carousel
  • Reality Break Rage Room
  • Smash’ems!
  • Socialight Society
  • Sweet Encounter Kids Culinary Academy

Our Sponsors

So, what was in the bag?

First place of the Lansing Built to Last received a location in downtown Lansing with a full year of business services and expenses.

This includes one year of:

  • Free rent
  • Physical renovation budget
  • Free energy efficiency consulting
  • Free legal counsel
  • Free business banking and financial services
  • Free branding, marketing, and website creation
  • Free IT support
  • Free publicity support

The winner also received $500 to be used for business insurance or whatever expense they see fit.

The Space

Curious about the physical space? You're looking at 3,083 square feet right in the heart of downtown.

228 S. Washington Square
Suite #100
Lansing, MI 48933


Applications had to describe a business that…

  • is brand new or a business that has been established for two years or less.
  • contributes to the economic development of the downtown Lansing area.
  • is able to operate physically downtown during the pandemic and after.

These criteria were demonstrated by:

  • After 5pm sustainable
  • Weekend attraction
  • Downtown Lansing presence
  • Employs Lansing residents
  • Business plan ready by June 2021

In a nutshell, this competition was designed to spark entrepreneurial action in the downtown Lansing community and reward those who present detailed plans on creating a new business enterprise. The business plans had to propose a venture that will be lawful, financially profitable, COVID resistant, and create new Lansing jobs.

Anatomy of the competition

Part 1

By 5:00 PM on Saturday, March 20, 2021

participants submitted an electronic Intent to Compete Form, including a business proposal, for their new venture idea.

Part 2

By 5:00 PM on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

the electronic business plan—max. 20 pages of text and additional max. 10 pages of appendices—was submitted. All participants were invited to optionally attend 2 Day Venture April 9 - 10 to workshop their ideas before the submission date. The top five business plans were selected by Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Pitches were recorded at Greenwood Studios on Thursday, April 29, 2021 and Friday, April 30, 2021.

Part 3

On Friday, May 7, 2021

contestants presented their business plans in a livestream for up to 10 minutes with five minutes for Q&A with the panel of sponsors. The winner was selected. at the end of this live virtual event.

Who Was Eligible?

  • Competition open to all Michigan residents.
  • Competition open to individuals and teams.
  • Applicants under the age of 18 must be part of a team with at least one member who is 18 or older.
  • An individual or team can submit only one entry.
  • An individual cannot be a member of more than one team.
  • An individual cannot submit individually while also part of a team.
  • Students are encouraged to apply.

Lansing Built to last timeline

March 20 Intent to Compete Form Due
April 9 - 10 2 Day Venture
April 14 Business plan due
April 21 Final five competitors selected
April 29-30 Pitches recorded
May 7 Final presentations