LB Accelerator Investors And Founders Summit Makes Connections On Many Levels

Welcome back to The Sunstone Way.

I was excited last week to be a small part of the first annual Long Beach Accelerator Investors and Founders Summit, which took place on the historic Queen Mary, one of my favorite places in Long Beach, maybe anywhere.

Watching our founding partner John Shen receive the Investor of the Year award was pretty cool. In his usual humble way, John deflected the praise for him to others who helped found and maintain the Long Beach Accelerator.

But the reality is that without John and his vision, the accelerator would never have happened. No brag, just fact.

Mayor Rex Richardson

My sole job for the day was to introduce Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, who received the first LBA Innovator of the Year award. I’ve had the privilege to work with Rex for nearly a decade, since he first was elected as a City Council member representing the Ninth District in North Long Beach.

As a fellow dad and aficionado of dad jokes, my intro had to include one – a joke, that is.

“I kept wondering why the baseball was getting bigger. And then it hit me.”

As economic development director for the city, I was able to help Rex launch several neighborhood and regional improvement projects. That working relationship has been key as we work on his initiatives as mayor. The Grow Long Beach and Launch Beach economic development initiatives, with its 100 Startups in five years campaign are key, and Rex made that point repeatedly in his speech.

The mayor credited the Long Beach Accelerator and other Launch Beach Coalition members – including Sunstone – for laying the groundwork for the initiative even before it was announced last year.

“We were able to hit the ground running because the infrastructure was already there,” Rex said. “The tools exist. Now we need to use them.”

Making Connections

Any event of this type where business founders and business investors are in the same room emphasizes the importance of creating a network of connections. Making those connections is a basic tenet at Sunstone and key to how we help early-stage entrepreneurs. Many at the summit share that passion.

Amy Millman, LBA’s Trailblazer of the Year and a participant in the Investing Trends of 2024 panel, said it best. She drew on her experience as executive director of the National Women’s Business Council and managing both Springboard Enterprises and the StageNext Fund.

“Think of us as a trail extender,” Millman said. “We create the system to support them… We teach them how to speak Investor to help them get through when they make that connection.”

All About Accelerating

The very concept of an accelerator is making connections between early-stage startup entrepreneurs and the people and organizations who can help them. Long Beach is blessed with some amazing mentors ready and willing to work with the founders in the LBA. Experts in a number of fields – finance, marketing, legal and more – provide information and training hard to find elsewhere.

Then there’s the connection to capital. It is a given that it takes money to start a business, and it usually takes more money to make that business grow.

Let me refer you back to John Shen’s award as Investor of the Year. The folks at the LBA recognize the importance of finding capital for startups, and Shen has made the LBA possible — largely through Sunstone Management – by providing part of that capital. And we do our best to connect our founders with other sources as well.

Thank You, Vivian

Let me take a moment to thank my friend Vivian Shimoyama, the chair of the LBA board and the force behind the first annual Long Beach Accelerator Investors and Founders Summit. It was a huge endeavor, and the result was an amazing event. Funders, investors and the rest of the entrepreneurial community will be talking about it for some time to come.

It was a time to make new friends and reconnect with old friends. It was a time that enriched our community. And that’s The Sunstone Way!

As always, be a Sunstone!

John Keisler

CEO & Managing Partner

Sunstone Management, Inc.

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More About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered 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. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.

© Sunstone Management Inc., 2024

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