Sunstone Innovation Challenge Awards $25,000 to Winning Startups at CSULB

2022-04-21 csulb pyramid

LONG BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The winners of the Sunstone Innovation Challenge were announced following final pitch presentations on Thursday, April 14th. International investment firm Sunstone Management partnered with California State University Long Beach (CSULB) Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship to sponsor the university’s 12th annual campus-wide business plan competition.

Teams from the Colleges of Business, Engineering, and the Arts participated in multiple rounds of pitching and six months of planning, pitching, and mentoring. Four finalists were selected from the competitive group of entrants to participate in the final pitch presentation, having prepared complete business plans addressing the core concepts of desirability, viability, and feasibility. A panel of industry professionals and investors judged the diverse group of innovators.

“The Sunstone Innovation Challenge broadens the runway and lengthens the experience for these student entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is about creating something viable and enduring, and I applaud Sunstone for their invaluable support,” said Michael Solt, Dean of the College of Business.

“We’re proud to celebrate our students’ achievements, bask in their creativity, and applaud their entrepreneurial jobs. They represent what is best about our university – bright inventive minds focused on changing the world for the better through the realization of their ideas,” remarked Anne D’Zmura, Interim Dean of the College of the Arts.

This year’s winner, First Position Instruments, beat out nearly two dozen entrants with their modern approach to instrument manufacturing, minimizing the barrier of entry for new musicians. The NIL Collective came in second as a marketing and branding agency dedicated to helping female college athletes monetize their personal brands. Honorable mentions went to the other two finalists, PAVANAS, a startup dedicated to increasing Annual Energy Production (AEP) and minimizing maintenance expenditures with their cost-effective, patent pending tape; and Unstockable, a FinTech financial literacy app targeted towards 18-to 30-year-olds.

The winning team received $15,000 in seed funding as well as space, marketing, legal, and accounting services totaling up to $35,000. The runner-up received $10,000, and each honorable mention received $5,000.

Added John Keisler, CEO and Managing Partner of Sunstone, “I’m so grateful for what the Sunstone community has done over the past few years in supporting the California dream. We saw on stage the best and brightest from all over the world, because here they get to live, work, and learn from Cal State-educated mentors willing to come back and coach the next generation of entrepreneurs. We are proud to sponsor not only this competition, but also the CSU-wide Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition and the UC-wide Born in California entrepreneurial events.”


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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