Industry Leader John Shen on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and the White House
John Shen, cofounder of Sunstone Management and multiple other companies, is building a national presence with not just one, but multiple invitations to the White House with President Joe Biden in the last month.
On Monday, June 13, Shen and his wife and business partner Stella Zhang watched in person as Biden signed the legislation launching the process of creating a National Museum of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander History and Culture. Shen said the invitation came after meeting Biden at a Beverly Hills reception after the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
“We met him (Biden) on Friday, and the next day, Saturday, we got the invite,” Shen said. “When we were there, we didn’t really get a chance to talk to Biden or Vice President (Kamala) Harris — they came out and made their speeches, then the signing took place.
“But Stella and I had a chance to talk to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House,” he added. “And take some pictures, of course.”
Simon Pang, a commissioner on the President’s Advisory Commission on AANHPI and a friend and partner of Shen’s, said: “I am thrilled to have been able to share this important moment with industry leaders like John Shen. His story is the story of the American Dream, and John’s ability to leverage that for the benefit of all Americans is an example for all.”
Shen said that the AANHPI museum is a concept that is overdue.
“This should have been taken care of 50, 60, 70 years ago,” he said. “We’ve been here for the last couple of centuries, but this group has never been under the spotlight.”
Shen had barely made it back to California before he received another White House invitation, this time to celebrate the Fourth of July. The party includes watching the Washington D.C. fireworks from the South Lawn at the White House.
“Then we got another White House invitation,” Shen said. “It’s for a summer picnic on July 12. I’m looking forward to that one. There will be some other Congressmen there, and we should be able to have some good conversations.”
Shen currently is principal of four companies, including Sunstone Management. American Lending Center has brought in more that $350 million in direct foreign investment and has become a leader in PPP. There’s also the Sunstone Trust Company and Partake Collective.
He said that he sees the next step as increasing his, and Sunstone’s, national profile.
“This could be interesting,” Shen said. “I was brought in to meet with these high-ranking officials because of my background. I happen to be one of those who have built a successful business. I believe I’m viewed as a winner.”
Reputation isn’t going to be enough to make a difference, though. Shen said it is going to take plenty of hard work, too.
“To develop relationships to help business is going to take time,” Shen said. “You first have to understand what their agenda is, what they want to do. Once regular channels of communication are opened up, you can talk business.”
While there are new opportunities all over the country, Shen said the basic focus on innovative entrepreneurship will continue. And California will continue to be a centerpiece.
“Innovative entrepreneurship is what we do,” Shen said. “I would like to bring that to the new immigrants too.
“It makes more sense to do it in California,” he added. “There are more startups, more Asian-Americans, more immigrants here.
“And it’s our home.”
About Sunstone Management: A Financial Times (FT) Americas’ Fastest Growing Company
Sunstone Management, with the Sunstone Venture Capital Fund, is a diversified private capital firm located in Southern California that invests in diverse early-stage technology entrepreneurs who demonstrate the promise to build great companies. We believe in the aspirational power of southern California to attract and inspire the most sophisticated investors and the most ambitious entrepreneurs in 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.
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