Sunstone Brings the Force in May  

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Welcome back to The Sunstone Way. May the Fourth be with you! 

I love the month of May for lots of reasons. Baseball is in full swing. Those April showers are making May flowers bloom. Students are preparing for graduation, or at least summer vacation.  And of course, we celebrate “May the Fourth” as a tribute to one of my all time favorite epics: Star Wars. 

There are a couple of important dates this month – actually, this week – as well. 

Star Wars Legacy 

I grew up on the Star Wars movies – the great originals, “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” I was far from alone, and plastic light sabers or Darth Vadar helmets were big sellers in the days before Christmas. 

As you know, the franchise took on a life of its own, becoming a lucrative worldwide phenomenon. Storylines have become complex and sometimes convoluted, but the basics remain the same – the little guy triumphing over the giant Empire, training of superheroes called Jedi, the force of good against the dark side. 

When Disney bought the franchise from George Lucas, marketing exploded. They built entire Star Wars lands called Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney World.  And of course the soon to be opened George Lucas Star Wars Museum right next to USC and the Coliseum! 

And on May 4 each year, fans all over the world go around saying “May the Fourth Be With You!” 

A Star Wars Holiday 

Okay, I know it is a bit of a lame pun on the famous “May the Force Be With You.” But it’s fun! 

That catchphrase runs through the original Star Wars trilogy, and still surfaces occasionally. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi said it first, encouraging the young Luke Skywalker in the first movie. The Force is central to Jedi powers. 

Here’s a little trivia for you. Margaret Thatcher’s first day as Prime Minister of England was May 4, 1979. Her party, the Tories, placed a full-page ad in the London Evening News that said “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!” And a pun was born. 

What Force? 

Did you notice who said May the Force Be With You in the movie? It was the Jedi Master to his young apprentice. That uber mentor Yoda uses the same phrase and variations throughout the series. 

I think mentors can teach how to tap into the Force, whether it is the power of Star Wars or the force of a well-crafted business plan. It’s fair to call mentors superheroes – their superpower is the ability to impart the wisdom of experience to young entrepreneurs. 

I believe strongly in these superheroes – mentoring is a basic building block at the Long Beach Accelerator, Lair East Labs and other programs we support. And mentoring, teaching, is the very definition of what’s happening at California State University campuses all across our state in the form of innovation and entrepreneurship programs. 

The results of their efforts, the superpower of the Force they transfer to young entrepreneurs, will be on display tomorrow, May 3, at the third annual Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition, taking place this year at Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Challenging Innovation 

When the first Startup Launch Competition took place two years ago at Cal State Long Beach, only five CSUs were represented – it was something new. But it was a start. And with help from another superhero, Dr. Wade Martin, we were able to mentor leaders at other universities about the value of the competition. Wade, the executive director at the CSULB Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and an economics professor at CSULB, has been our partner since the beginning of the Long Beach Accelerator and Sunstone’s sponsorship of these competitions.  

I was very excited when we were able to announce a five-year sponsorship of the Startup Launch Competition, providing $200,000 in prize money each year for five years through our Sunstone Community Fund. Helping to activate the potential of the 450,000 students in the CSU system has been a dream come true for me. 

We’ve provided the incentive, but it takes the superhero mentors to bring the force of entrepreneurial talent to the fore. May the Fourth Be With You, and With Them! Because that’s The Sunstone Way. 

And remember, always be a Sunstone! 

John Keisler 

CEO & Managing Partner 

Sunstone Management, Inc. 

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©Sunstone Management, Inc. 2024 

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. 

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