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Chapman launches eVillage, an incubator for developing startups

January 9, 2012

Chapman University Professor Richard Sudek in the soon-to-be-transformed attic of the eVillage house.

Chapman University is restoring an old house near campus that will soon become a hothouse, of sorts.

In February the university will debut its cutting-edge eVillage facility, where professional resources for entrepreneurs and startup companies will be housed and available to help selected applicants grow new businesses.

Chapman’s eVillage will feature an accelerator named K5launch and access to other start-up resources. The eVillage is hosted by Chapman’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics. A grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony and luau is planned for February.

“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 for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics, as well as chairman emeritus of Tech Coast Angels. “Combining Chapman’s entrepreneur efforts with K5 accelerator will form a nucleus in Southern California for entrepreneurship.”

K5Launch is an accelerator for early-stage, technology-driven startups. What makes K5Launch unique is that it’s run by successful entrepreneurs and investors themselves. The accelerator provides a mentorship-driven seed-stage investment program over a three-month period. Companies are selected among hundreds of candidates to build their product and get ready for their next milestones, including funding. While the initial physical location will be at Chapman’s eVillage, K5Launch will also work with other Southern California universities.

“K5Launch is part of the K5 initiative that promotes a community wide platform to impact the creation and development of 1,000 companies in the next five years,” said Amir Banifatemi, founder of K5.

K5Launch has two additional founders: Raymond Chan, and Kai Tao.  The idea was generated when the founders realized that Southern California, and specially Orange County had the human talent and the resources but not the entrepreneurial connection like 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.”

K5Launch accelerator is also open to college-age undergrads or businesses already starting up; any company can apply. Entrepreneurs in K5Launch will also be provided with all the necessary resources, such as funding, legal and financial advice, to build products and validate market opportunity. Upon completion of K5Launch, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch their projects to an extensive network of investors. Since November, K5Launch has been accepting applications for the winter program at

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