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Chapman University launches eVillage for startups

The facility will host the new K5launch accelerator program for entrepreneurs

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: November 30, 2011 10:15 AM

Chapman University’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics is launching a new eVillage facility for startup companies and entrepreneurs in Southern California. The center will include a business accelerator, dubbed K5launch, and provide dedicated professional resources for entrepreneurs and startups. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and luau celebration marking the launch of the new center will take place in early 2012.

According to Chapman, the K5launch center is a unique business incubator managed by successful entrepreneurs and investors and oriented toward helping early-stage, technology-driven startups.

"By collocating resources, ideas, knowledge and relationships, entrepreneurs learn quickly and accelerate their success," said Richard Sudek, Ph.D., director of Chapman's Leatherby Center and chairman emeritus of Tech Coast Angels. "Combining Chapman's entrepreneur efforts with K5 accelerator will form a nucleus in Southern California for entrepreneurship."

Companies selected by the accelerator are accepted into a three-month “mentorship-driven seed stage investment program”, during which time they will build their product and prepare for the next business development milestones, including investment funding. Companies participating in the program will be provided all necessary resources to build their products, and receive legal and financial advice in the process. Once the program is complete, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present their project to a wide network of investors.

The minds behind K5launch are local investors and entrepreneurs Amir Banifatemi, Raymond Chan, and Kai Tao. They were inspired to embark on the project when they realized that Southern California––and Orange County, especially––has all the talent and resources necessary to compete with the nation’s top business development regions; all we lack is the entrepreneurial connection of Silicon Valley or New York.

"Orange County startups and entrepreneurs are connected through networking affiliations," Banifatemi said.  "But there are not enough action-based programs like accelerators. Chapman is doing it at the academic level and we are doing it at the community level – this partnership will ideally create a nucleus for Southern California entrepreneurs."

While the eVillage is located at Chapman University, K5launch will work with other Southern Califonia universities and colleges. Similarly, the accelerator is open to undergrads, graduate students and businesses already in the startup phase; all companies are eligible to apply. K5launch is currently accepting applications and will begin its first program in mid-January.

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