Sunstone Challenge At Institute For Innovation & Entrepreneurship Goes To AI-Assisted Thermal Body Monitor

LONG BEACH – A team of university entrepreneurs took home the top prize of $15,000 Tuesday evening at the fifth annual Sunstone Innovation Challenge at the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Cal State Long Beach. 

While this is the fifth time Sunstone Management, Inc., has sponsored the pitch competition, the University has presented a challenge for 14 years. That first year, only one team was awarded prize money; this year there were eight finalists divided into two tracks – one with teams interested in taking their idea to market and the other with teams competing for the experience. 

The team taking home the top prize is SensiVitalis, a group proposing an Artificial Intelligence-assisted temperature monitoring system that would help healthcare providers proactively regulate patients’ body temperature, helping treatment for related issues. The five-member team includes a registered nurse, Aylin Leo; a microbiology researcher, Sarah Saleem; a computer science entrepreneur, Sergio Remigio; Bio-medical Engineering student Antonio Alvarado; and Stacey Alvarado, a certified nurse assistant. 

“I’ve been involved in this for five years,” said John Keisler, Sunstone’s CEO and managing partner. “This has been the best event so far. The key differentiator this year was that we had four very strong finalists… To all four teams, if you didn’t win tonight, your time will come. If you continue doing the right things, you will succeed. Keep with it, stay at it.” 

Sunstone provides prize money and support through its Sunstone Community Fund, a charitable donor-advised fund. 

Judges for Track One were Joe Platnick, an angel investor and director emeritus of Pasadena Angels; Vivian Shimoyama, CEO of Shimoyama Enterprises and chair of the board at the Long Beach Accelerator; and Shankar Ram, a serial founder, chair of Global Tie Angel Investment group, and mentor. 

The Track One runner up, winning $10,000, was Wise + Well with its personal assistant service for senior citizens. Honorable mentions received $5,000. They were MindBodySoul and Gomberg MPS Inc. 

A highlight of the event was the return of the 2023 winners, Bookbound. After winning at the Innovation Challenge, Bookbound competed at the CSU system-wide Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition at San Jose State University, and CEO Elias Babaalian-Morales said his team will compete in the 2024 version at Cal State Dominguez Hills. He said the competition was a game-changer. 

“BookBound won the competition in 2023 and used the seed capital and in-kind services to start the business after the team graduated,” Babaalian-Morales said. “Since then, BookBound has become an LLC, filed trademarks, done marketing campaigns, networked at events, and is currently working with a developer to get the app launched in 2024.” 

Four more teams competed in Track Two, where they worked on creating business plans and pitches, but didn’t necessarily prepare for next steps to becoming viable businesses. One of the judges, Walter Larkins, said the entrepreneurial path is hard, but urged them to consider it. 

“I got 54 no’s before the 55th company said yes to my company,” he said. “If you don’t believe in your vision, no one else will, because the journey is long and challenging.” 

Larkins was joined by Brenda Wunsch and Alan Pullman on the Track Two judge panel. They chose SimpliSort as the winner. SimpliSort, which  is a technology company helping people organize and interact with their wardrobes. The Track Two runner up was Explorify (winning $1,000) and $500 honorable mentions were awarded to Hubsavor and Carpal. 

For more information about the CSULB Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, go to the website

About Sunstone Management 
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Southern California. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the latest Pitchbook rankings, Sunstone Management was #15 in the third quarter of 2023 nationally, and #18 in the fourth quarter.1 

  1. Rankings from Pitchbook Venture Monitor, Q3 and Q4. 


Jennifer Huang
Sunstone Management
(562) 732-0617

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