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‘Accelerator’ and apprenticeship program KYN launches Downtown
Elton Rivas, KYN founding partner, announced Wednesday the launch of a business consulting and apprenticeship program with offices in the historic Hutchinson-Suddath Building at 315 E. Bay St.
KYN Chief Designer Dennis Eusebio and Shay Arnett, chief technologist.
Stache Investments Corp. said Wednesday it has exceeded the $1 million investment potential it committed for the inaugural One Spark crowdfunding festival and has extended the commitment for the One Spark event scheduled next April 9-14.

The announcement was made by CoWork Jax and One Spark co-founder Elton Rivas at a news conference to introduce Downtown's newest business, KYN, which, along with several One Spark entrants, has been funded by Stache Investments.

"We are impressed by the outpouring of talent we witnessed at One Spark earlier this year. Stache has provided the seed capital for KYN because we view it as an essential component of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that Elton and his team is creating in Jacksonville which began with CoWork Jax, then One Spark and now KYN," said Stache Investments Chief Investments Officer Jim Zsebok in a statement.

Stache Investments is the venture capital firm established by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

Rivas described KYN as a "relationship-focused accelerator and apprenticeship program."

The first group of One Spark creators selected for the program has begun a 16-week "class" designed to help them grow their early-stage companies. KYN provides each a $35,000 investment plus office and meeting space, mentorship and the opportunity to pitch their business plans to potential investors and venture capitalists.

"My role is similar to what it has been at CoWork Jax and One Spark – to get it out of the gate, grow it and make it sustainable," Rivas said.

"We will help companies with great ideas connect with mentors and focus on revenue generation," he said.

In addition to Heritage Farms in Mandarin, which received a $280,000 mortgage July 1 from Stache Investments, the first group of KYN participants comprises Pure Treats, a healthy food development company; Floppy Entertainment, a digital game developer; Hatchware, a company that designs digital menu boards for restaurants; and Original Fuzz, a company that markets products for guitar players including straps, gear bags and cables.

Another aspect of KYN is an apprenticeship program in partnership with the University of North Florida College of Computing, Engineering & Construction. Students enrolled in design and development courses at the college will work with the startup companies at KYN's offices in the Hutchinson-Suddath Building at 315 E. Bay St.

KYN Chief Designer Dennis Eusebio, also a One Spark co-founder, said the program schedule is aligned with UNF's semester schedule and the 10 students selected as apprentices will earn class credit for their participation.

"To be able to interact with the businesses and be exposed to the entrepreneurial mindset will be a transformational learning experience," said Sherif Elfayoumy, associate dean of the college.

Rivas said at the conclusion of the first 16-week phase of the program, the businesses will showcase their work to potential investors. Another group will be chosen in January and scheduled to present their projects during One Spark 2014.

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