USC Students Win Sunstone Prize at New Venture Seed Competition

IRVINE, Calif. (May 15, 2023) – A team of University of Southern California students with an approach to distribution of items ordered online took home the $35,000 Sunstone Prize on April 27 at the USC Marshall Greif Center’s New Venture Seed Competition.

The Sunstone Prize, from Sunstone Management through the Sunstone Community Fund, was the first-place award in the annual competition. This is the first year of a five-year agreement between Sunstone and the USC Marshall School of Business. Sunstone’s total commitment is $175,000.

“This competition can be the first step in an entrepreneurial journey to success,” John Keisler, CEO and Managing Partner at Sunstone, said. “We’re happy to partner with the USC Marshall School of Business to make this happen.”

A total of $150,000 was split among the six finalists in the 2023 New Venture Seed Competition. They presented their startup business ideas on April 19 to the panel of judges. The event was put on by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

The first-place team, called Conduit Commerce, presented a proposal to use a centralized distributor for drop shipping to guarantee one- to two-day delivery, connecting retailers directly with e-commerce consumers. The key is sharing area warehouses among distributors, their presentation said.

Other finalists in the competition were:

  • Pulse, with a new wearable patch to collect health data.
  • Quinta App, which would track tire wear to increase truck efficiency.
  • Phlytech, growing Black Soldier Fly Larvae on food waste as a new protein source.
  • OSEM, with a new Nanodrug-making process.
  • RIZZ, offering an AI-powered digital device keyboard.

© Sunstone Management Inc.


About Sunstone Management

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm located in Southern California that invests in diverse early-stage technology entrepreneurs who seek to build great companies. We believe in the aspirational power of the American economy to attract and inspire investors and entrepreneurs from throughout 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. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row.

About Sunstone Community Fund

The Sunstone Community Fund is a Donor Advised Fund managed by the National Philanthropic Trust. It is an important component of Sunstone Management’s vision to advance public-benefit programs that support the development of inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. The SCF supports a network of universities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that develop and implement university-based entrepreneurship programs, early-stage tech accelerators, and advance local economic development through inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation.

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