Welcome back to The Sunstone Way.
Helping startup companies, particularly underrepresented- and women-owned companies, is a fundamental reason why Sunstone Management was created.
Our founder, John Shen, was an immigrant entrepreneur when he began his American journey, and long has had a passion for helping people to succeed who share his experience. As an economic development expert, I share that passion because I know that attracting and supporting the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world is a secret weapon of the United States of America — the Land of Opportunity — and is a major reason for our position as one of the largest, most productive economies in the world.
John and I put our shared passions to work when we created the Long Beach Accelerator in 2019. Using our approach of economic partnership between government and the private sector, we started something that has helped more than three dozen startups – more than half owned by underrepresented and/or women – to create economic opportunity for themselves and for others.
Just One Example
Meet Zarina Bahadur. Zarina is the founder of 123 Baby Box, a specialty retail company shipping cool stuff to moms and their babies-toddlers. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East, and pushed Zarina to get an education – ultimately an MBA from the University of California, Irvine.
She had a business idea, went through the Wayfinder Incubator at UCI, then won the New Venture Competition there (which is now known as the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition after Sunstone partner Stella Zhang). Zarina launched her company in March 2021 and became part of the second cohort of startups at the Long Beach Accelerator, where she received her first equity investment through Sunstone Management.
We helped support her, and she has since gone through an advanced accelerator program and five – yes, five – fundraising rounds, raising nearly $2 million to grow her company. She now has seven employees and is ranked by Pitchbook in the top third of companies expected to succeed.
Sunstone has been by Zarina’s side through this journey and remains involved in the company. Why? Because she’s enriching her community and succeeding as both an under-represented founder and woman-owned business.
Going Our Own Way
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank, then two more banks, earlier this year has prompted a dearth of capital for startups, and the deal count for early investment has declined each quarter since its record high in Q2 2022, according to Pitchbook. The deal value for early-stage venture capital also has fallen every quarter for the last six quarters, the same report, “Venture Monitor Q2 2023,” says. The demand/need for capital by startups is 2.5 times the amount of capital available, according to DealCloud.
But Sunstone Management has maintained our active support for early-stage startups, and we’re more than doubling down on the number of companies we are supporting. According to industry standard PitchBook, we remain the most active venture capital firm in Irvine in the last 12 months, and we’re on track to continue that growth through the rest of the year.
Why? Because we believe we are here to provide economic opportunity, to enrich and strengthen communities through economic development. That’s even more true in times of tight capital markets.
That’s the Sunstone Why, and The Sunstone Way.
As always, be a Sunstone!
CEO & Managing Partner
Sunstone Management Inc.
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More About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm located in Southern California that invests in diverse early-stage technology entrepreneurs who seek to build great companies. We believe in the aspirational power of the American economy to attract and inspire investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the world. We deliver new and exciting opportunities for economic growth through the creation of innovative public-private partnerships, and our unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row.
© Sunstone Management Inc.