Sunstone Management’s November Brought Much To Be Thankful For 

Stella Zhang’s Distinguished Alumni Award

Considering that my favorite metaphor for the Sunstone journey is an airplane, it was fitting to start November at the Long Beach Airport, celebrating that wonderful place’s 100th anniversary.

It was fitting because we were able to see the newest aeronautic technology while surrounded by the century of history underpinning those advances. I had the opportunity to experience the prototype of the Wisk Aero, an autonomous all-electric flying taxi being developed by a startup backed by The Boeing Company.

It also was fitting as we began talking publicly about the Long Beach Venture Fund and its five components. Aviation and aerospace is a large component of that fund – it’s one of the key sectors in Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson’s Grow Long Beach economic development fund.

Taking Off

Sunstone Management is taking off, too. Last month, we finalized our broker-dealer agreement with Carolina Financial Securities, LLC, which has placed more than $1 billion of private debt and equity over the past 20 years. In 2018, Carolina Financial launched Carofin, another broker-dealer aimed at increasing access to the private financial markets.

The rest of November has been spent crossing “T”s and dotting “I”s, as we complete procedures and policies that will allow us to actively solicit investment in our funds. Consider it a flight check before we reach for the sky.

Speaking of reaching for the sky, our two vice presidents for investment, Lloyd Wei and Nathan Jia, both passed their Series 7 certification tests in November, as did Associate Vice President Jing Sun, with Carolina Financial Securities holding their registrations. Also on the investment team is Clark Hsu, who passed his Series 65 certification test last month.

Partnering With Purpose

November started with the CSU Demo Day, where teams from all over the 23-campus California State University system gather to pitch their business ideas to investors and each other. The day-long event took place at the Cal State Long Beach campus, and Sunstone Management was there in full force, meeting and mentoring many student entrepreneurs.

Beyond the connections made at the event, something else came out of CSU Demo Day. We have started a series of profiles of student teams that have won pitch competitions – like several at the demo day – to see their progress.

Later in the month, the spotlight was on the other side of our partnership spectrum, with the Long Beach municipal government a focus at the Accelerate Long Beach Economic Forum organized by the Long Beach Economic Partnership. We were the presenting sponsor, and I was the keynote speaker.

Mayor Richardson started the forum by talking about the Launch Beach Coalition: 100 Startups effort and its integral role in the economic transition Long Beach is facing as it weens itself off oil production revenue. And the economic forecast presented by Dr. Robert Kleinhenz of the Cal State Long Beach Office of Economic Research highlighted the room for growth in sectors emphasized in the Launch Beach effort – sustainability, health care, aerospace, goods movement and the creative economy.

Big Finish

As hard as it is to believe, we’re almost done with 2023. It has been a momentous, even monumental year for Sunstone and for me. For the first time, I’ve worked an entire year in the private sector! Yet with all we do here for our communities, I truly feel like I continue to be a public servant.

As a company, we have spent most of the year in preparation – preparation for our move to the Fifth-Floor headquarters, preparation for a broker-dealer, preparation for expansion of activities in New York, preparation for the Long Beach Venture Fund.

Now as we enter December, virtually everything is in place. With Carofin’s help, we’re set to make an even bigger splash in the early-stage venture capital world (remember, we were ranked seventh in the country in that VC category in the second quarter by PitchBook). Our fixed-income fund is also growing.

This December has the potential to be Sunstone’s biggest month yet in many ways. It has been hard work to get here – now we need to finish the job.

Hanging Up Stars

It’s always nice to be acknowledged, and particularly to be acknowledged for something you care a lot about. That was the case when we were named as one of the country’s top Founder-Friendly Investors by Inc. magazine. We make it a point to nurture our founders – the entrepreneurs who start the companies we find capital for – from when they join an accelerator or win a pitch competition we sponsor. And this particular honor is based on feedback from the founders themselves, making it even more meaningful.

Technically, this next honor was bestowed in October, but I want to make sure we celebrate it. Our own Stella Zhang received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Irvine. Stella was nominated by the Paul Merage School of Business, where she earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2005.

Stella is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the American Lending Center and a partner in Sunstone Management, Inc. She has become very involved with the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (part of the business school) and in 2022 agreed to sponsor the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition. That spring event sees student teams pitch business concepts, competing for a prize pot of $100,000.

Congratulations, Stella.

Thank You

As we enter December and the holiday season, I wanted to say thank you for my Sunstone family. That family includes you, whether you are a founder, a funder, a friend or a member of Sunstone Management.

As I said in the Thanksgiving Sunstone Way blog, I’m so very thankful for those who share the passion for helping startup founders of all shapes and sizes, for walking alongside the young entrepreneurs in our universities, and for those dedicated to enriching lives and communities.

I’m thankful for you.

And as always, remember to be a Sunstone.

©Sunstone Management, Inc. 2023


Notes: Interests in private funds such as the Long Beach Venture Fund are offered pursuant to an exemption from registration with the SEC and are therefore high-risk, illiquid investments. Those considering such investments should be able to afford losing some or all their money. For more information about the Long Beach Venture Fund, including a summary of risks, please request a Private Placement Memorandum from Sunstone Management, Inc.

Long Beach Venture Fund is a registered dba for Sunstone Innovation Fund, which is advised by Sunstone Advisors, LLC.

You can learn more about the services offered by Carolina Financial Securities and Carofin at

Information pertaining to the Long Beach Venture Fund is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer to sell securities or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities. Such offers are made solely pursuant to formal offering and subscription documentation. Offers are made only to accredited investors pursuant to the offering documents, which describe among other things the risks and fees associated with the Fund that should be considered before investing. The Long Beach Venture Fund is a long-term investment that involve a substantial risk of loss, including the loss of all capital invested.

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.

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