Launch Labs front door

»Launch Labs

The Launch Labs is both a physical space and a concept; in that it’s a place where we will mentor and help entrepreneurs and student entrepreneurs with a number of resources and events in and around Launch Labs. Launch Labs is designed for intense 24/7 entrepreneurship. There are conference rooms, kitchens, offices, showers, and the walls are painted with “idea paint” for white boarding.

An anchoring partner of the Launch Labs is a Southern California-based accelerator called K5Launch which was founded by four Tech Coast Angel members. In addition to Launch Labs’s partnership with K5Launch, we are creating a student incubator which will provide Chapman students office space, mentors, and access to professionals such as attorneys, CPAs, and marketing executives.

Apply for the Leatherby Center Student Incubator

Turn your business idea into a reality! Click here for program details and here for application documents to be considered for the opportunity to have office space, access to resources, mentors, and professional guidance from an extensive network of successful entrepreneurs.  The Student Incubator will provide the necessary tools to propel student teams towards their goals and aspirations.

For questions contact Gene Alexander, Director of Technology Entrepreneurship at

Launch Labs FAQ

You will find more information about Launch Labs in the questions below, answered by Leatherby Center Director Shan Steinmark.

+-Who can use Launch Labs?

While Launch Labs is part of Chapman University and is located across the street from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at 303 West Palm Ave., it is a resource for both student and non-student entrepreneurs.

+-What is K5Launch?

K5Launch is a Southern California-based accelerator partnered with the Chapman’s Launch Labs.  Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the K5Launch program need to apply online at  The K5Launch team evaluates those applications and meets with the entrepreneurs. For each 12-week K5Launch cycle, entrepreneurs are selected. K5Launch will invest $15,000-$25,000 in each of the companies selected.  Once the entrepreneurs go through the 12 week process there will be a pitch meeting held where these entrepreneurs will pitch to investors with the goal of securing funding. The mentors will help them get ready for an investor pitch – then K5Launch will host a demo day where the entrepreneurs will pitch their business concept and plan to actual venture capitalists and angel groups like Tech Coast Angels.  K5Launch plans to expand the program so it can handle more entrepreneurs (for each 12-week cycle).

K5Launch is also planning special student program called K5 Passport, where a student team will be mentored in the same 12-week process, but they won’t get investment money.  The intent of the program is to provide students access to the program which can greatly benefit and encourage their entrepreneurial aspirations and/or nurture their existing ventures.

+-What are some of the resources in Launch Labs?

Alongside providing physical space for startup companies, such as those enrolled in the K5Launch program, Launch Labs will offer a number of resources. There are a number of organizations that are tied into Launch Labs, including 75 entrepreneurs in residence who will be mentors. TiE members will be involved as mentors and entrepreneurs in residence. EO – the Entrepreneur Organization, the Inventors Forum, and TriTech which is an SBDC will all be involved.

TriTech will also allow students to be involved in their client meetings and Chapman will host a TriTech  SBIR workshop in the spring. We’ll have a number of seminars and workshops sponsored by Launch Labs, such as how to build a start-up board, how to attract equity investing, how to negotiate a term sheet, and how to launch. Launch Labs will continue to evolve over time with new resources being added.

+-What are you trying to accomplish with Launch Labs?

We are trying to improve and connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern California. We feel that to do that, we have to connect the entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, resources, and the organizations that are entrepreneurial related. The concept is to connect these resources and bring in informal education through the seminars and workshops. For example, by partnering with K5Launch, we provide a physical place in Orange County where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, and be mentored; and ideally improve their chances of acquiring funding and being successful.

The center of venture capital has been the San Francisco/Palo Alto/Bay Area but we find examples of entrepreneurs who want to stay in Southern California. Venture capital came to the West in the 1960s with William Draper and Arthur Rock who are some of the “fathers of venture capital” and brought that to the San Francisco area.

High-tech companies are typically the companies that venture capitalists invest in because those are the fast-growth opportunities. However, the percentage of venture invested companies is tiny when you look at the sheer number of small businesses – everything from restaurants to a consultant who works out of their homes. There are many small businesses that don’t even get bank financing, let alone venture capital.

+-Can non high-tech companies go through Launch Labs?

Non high-tech entrepreneurs will find resources in Launch Labs but the K5Launch accelerator is specifically for high-tech companies. There is another concept to Launch Labs called “Business Boost.” This is where we take entrepreneurs who already have a small company and want to grow. They are not fast growth—maybe they are $1 million or $2 million and want to get to $5 million or $10 million.  So there are two parts to the ecosystem we are trying to address: fast-growth, high-tech companies and small companies that want to grow.

+-How are Chapman University students involved in Launch Labs?

By co-locating a professionally-run accelerator, and student incubator, and resources, we will create opportunity for successful entrepreneurs, starting entrepreneurs, and students to learn and help each other.

The benefit for Chapman students is that they get to experience the actual launch of companies.  For example, because of Launch Labs’s partnership with K5Launch, Chapman students will have an opportunity to participate in K5Launch’s student programs which are designed to provide them unique opportunities to participate in the life of startup companies. Students will get credit for working with the entrepreneurs.

K5Launch has designed a special student program called K5 Passport, where a student team will be mentored in the same 12-week process, but they won’t get investment money.  The intent of the program is to provide students access to the program which can greatly benefit and encourage their entrepreneurial aspirations and/or nurture their existing ventures.

In addition to that, Chapman itself is launching a student incubator. The incubator will provide office space, mentoring, and resources such as attorneys, marketing executives, and CPAs. We will have open office hours for all Chapman students at Launch Labs. So every week students can go and talk to advisors and mentors about a business idea or a concept.

Another benefit is that Launch Labs is a conduit for students to get hired as interns with the entrepreneurs they work with. After working intensely with the entrepreneurs, it becomes a natural progression to get an internship for credit or for pay – it depends on the funding and the company, but the point is this is an on-ramp to a high-tech internship. The last benefit is all the networking involved with the entrepreneurs, advisors and the mentors. So when a student has a business idea, their network has expanded.

+-Where do you see Launch Labs in five years?

We hope to expand the physical space dramatically over the next five years, so that we can increase the student incubator, have more conference rooms, seminar rooms and house more entrepreneurs. Currently, there are no “open office hours” for the community, but we want to look at that possibility of that in the future.

We would hope that both the entrepreneurs and the students who go through and are involved with Launch Labs would come back as they launch their companies and speak to our students and become mentors. This “giving back” will help grow the ecosystem and make it more robust. As more people become successful and come back and help – the more bandwidth and quality we will have in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Immediately, however, Launch Labs will be constantly flush with successful entrepreneurs. There will be Tech Coast Angels members there mentoring people; there will be entrepreneurs in residence mentoring people; people from the Inventors Forum who will deal with patents and intellectual property issues will be there; and we’ll have attorneys involved that will help answer legal issues. So there will be a lot of successful people there that will be accessible to the students and the community.

+-Launch Labs Events Calendar

  • Featured
  • News
  • Events
  • page loading






    View all News »
  • page loading






    View all Events »

Apply for the Student Incubator

We will accept applications for Spring 2016 starting January 18th and ending February 12, 2016. 

Mailing List

For updates on Leatherby Center news and events please join our mailing list!

Community Calendar

View local university and entrepreneur organizations events on our calendar.

Stay Current

Keep up with current Leatherby Center events and news by "liking" us on Facebook!