University Entrepreneurs Compete For $200,000 In Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition

CARSON – Between 20 and 30 university student teams from the  world’s largest public university system will vie for $200,000 in prize money Friday, May 3 in the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition at California State University, Dominguez Hills. 

This is the third year entrepreneurs from all 23 of the CSU campuses have been invited to present their business ideas in an effort to win enough money to jumpstart their enterprise. Sunstone Management, Inc., helped launch the competition, and through its charitable arm the Sunstone Community Fund, provides the prize money. 

Teams from 16 campuses have confirmed they will be sending teams this year, according to David Ochi, Executive Director of the Innovation Incubator at Cal State Dominguez Hills and the host organizer this year. Three more campuses have tentatively agreed to participate. 

At last year’s event at San Jose State University, Sunstone announced a $1 million, five-year commitment to the program.2 This is the second year $200,000 in prize money has been made available. 

“This is an investment in the future of entrepreneurship and the California Dream,” said John Keisler, CEO of Sunstone Management. “Being able to tap into and support the brain power and energy of students and professors in the CSU system is both our honor and duty. It’s impressive that there are entrepreneurship programs at so many CSU campuses, and we’re pleased to be able to help support and promote those programs.” 

This year, AnnenbergTech, an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation, has joined in sponsoring the Startup Launch Competition with a $25,000. Annenberg is supporting the participation of CSULA, Cal Poly Pomona and CSUDH. 

A change in format this year will pit all the teams against each other in the first part of the day. Teams will set up table presentations of their concept, showcasing to a group of 50 judges from all over the state. 

There are 10 award categories in this part of the competition, with a $6,000 prize for first, $3,000 for second and $1,000 for third. Teams can win in more than one category. 

Judges also will pick seven teams to compete in the grand finale afternoon – one more team will be an audience choice. Each of the finalists will get $5,000 for making it to the finale. 

“The finalists will make a three-minute presentation without any kind of slide show,” Ochi said. “That will be followed up by five minutes of Q and A from the judges. Think of ‘Shark Tank’ and that kind of free-flowing conversation.” 

Pressure will be high, with a first-place prize of $30,000 on the line. Second place earns the team $20,000 and the third place finisher receives $10,000. 

The day begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m., with most of the activity in the Loker Student Union ballroom on the CSUDH campus. For more information and to register for the event, go to

More 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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