Below is the transcript of the full interview I conducted with Dr. Richard Sudek, Director of Chapman University’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics. The center is nationally recognized as a leader in the field and Chapman has produced a number of notable entrepreneurs, including our client, Frank Delgadillo, creator of the Ambiguous and Comune action wear lines.
Excerpts from this interview appeared in Impact (formerly Caypen) magazine in both their online and print editions.
Q: Can you give us some background on the Leatherby Center and what you do here?
Sudek: I’m the Director of the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics.
PM: What is your background?
Sudek: I had my own computer company, built starting with $250 and sold it, so I’m not your typical academic. What I’m really trying to do is change the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in OrangeCounty. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is poorly connected from my perception. We’d like Chapman to be involved in helping connect it. We’d like Chapman to be the place where entrepreneurs, inventors and investors meet and collaborate.
Most of our energy is outward facing rather inward facing.
One of the things to point out is that Chapman one of the best kept secrets here in OrangeCounty. We’re a top 50 business school. We have a Nobel prize winner in economics. Our entrepreneurship program is ranked 13th by BusinessWeek. Because I wanted to cross connect the university, we built this thing called ESUN, Entrepreneur Student University Network. Originally it was designed to be small, so we started with the local schools; Cal Tech. USC, UCLA, Loyola, Pepperdyne, UCI, Fullerton and Claremont McKenna to try to cross connect our centers which we’re starting to do.
The thing that really launched this is we created this competition called California Dreaming. And we brought in other schools such as Oklahoma, BYU, Berkeley and Hawaii, etc and created a $100,000 business plan competition that we have in April. Next year it will be a $200,000. It’s going actually be two different competitions a business plan competition and fast pitch competition. Microsemi will be the anchor sponsor, as they were last year. The idea is to get students in front of investors, not just to win cash. I brought in VCs and angels from the bay area and local VCs and angels.
One of the teams, BYU, who won the competition, got some equity funding from this in late April. So that’s the idea is to get students connected to that.
PM: So you’re trying to build the hub for this kind of activity here?
Sudek: Yes. Now this reaches outward across different states so the idea is the help students in general although focused on Chapman, OrangeCounty, Southern California, going out from there.