First Long Beach Accelerator Summit Sells Out; Features Prestigious Awards

LONG BEACH, Calif. – (January 12, 2024) – More than 170 people boarded the historic Queen Mary on Thursday, Jan. 11, for the Inaugural Long Beach Accelerator Investors and Founders Summit.

A distinguished panel of nationally recognized investors and business owners offered insights during the morning session – Investing Trends in 2024. Moderated by small business advocate and entrepreneur Sue Malone, the panel focused specifically on how early-stage business owners – women and minority founders in particular – could find the capital necessary to get their businesses off and running.

“The startup tech ecosystem is so important for the city of Long Beach and our region,” said Vivian Shimoyama, chair of the Long Beach Accelerator (LBA) board of directors. “When we connect entrepreneurs, founders of tech companies with investors it means growth of a company, job creation and job retention.”

Santhosh Devati, the founder of Anamika Ventures, was one of the panelists. Anamika’s core mission is to invest in female-founded early-stage companies; Devati also has mentored more than 300 business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals.

Long Beach’s own Julia Huang, founder and CEO of Intertrend, the multicultural creative agency, also participated on the panel. Her second company, Imprint, is an incubator for new creative businesses and is part of the Launch Beach coalition.

Amy Millman did double duty Thursday, speaking on the Investing Trends panel, then accepting the Trailblazer of the Year award at the luncheon. Millman, a passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs, is the managing partner of StageNext Fund after founding Springboard Enterprises and serving there as president for 21 years. She also has served as the executive director of the National Women’s Business Council.

Referencing the emphasis on female and underserved business founders, Shimoyama said:

“We continue to build on the success of our inclusive program. The LBA reaches into our national, regional, and local community and the result has been that our LBA business and management education program has included over 68% diverse founders.”

Two other major awards were bestowed during the luncheon. John Shen, founder of American Lending Center and Sunstone Management, was named Investor of the Year. Shen was one of three people who launched the Long Beach Accelerator in 2019 and continues to support the accelerator’s founders with investments through Sunstone.

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson was given the Innovator of the Year award. A year ago, shortly after taking office, Richardson created the 100 Startups Initiative with the Launch Beach Collaborative to bring 100 new businesses to Long Beach over the next five years through the Long Beach Accelerator and a proposed $25 million investment fund.

“We announced the Grow Long Beach and Launch Beach initiative a year ago, at my first state of the city speech,” Richardson said in his acceptance speech. “It’s a tribute to you all that the initiative is already gaining traction. And it’s because the infrastructure was there, thanks to the work of people in this room.”

John Keisler, CEO and managing partner of Sunstone Management, Inc., introduced the mayor and presented his award. Dr. Wade Martin, director of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Cal State Long Beach and one of the Long Beach Accelerator founders, did the honors for John Shen. And Vivian Shimoyama did the honors for Amy Millman.

“These awardees epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit that is the bedrock of the Long Beach Accelerator,” Shimoyama said. “It is fitting that we honor such a distinguished group to launch LBA’s awards program.”

For more information about the LBA, go to or email Vivian Shimoyama at

About Long Beach Accelerator

The Long Beach Accelerator provides early-stage tech startups with the resources and runway they need to flourish. The LBA has a current application cycle open for Cohort 7. The LBA is a public-private partnership between the city of Long Beach, Sunstone Management, and CSULB and has been named one of Southern California’s top tech accelerators by dot.LA.

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About Sunstone Management  

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors.  The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its 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.

Connect with Sunstone Management at: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Crunchbase | Pitchbook 

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