Welcome back to The Sunstone Way.
I’ve spoken before about the importance of partnerships to the Sunstone philosophy. It’s part of our secret sauce – we know how to partner with governments and educational institutions to help entrepreneurs start innovative new businesses.
That was the topic yesterday, Oct. 18, at the annual SoCal Ecosystem Leadership Forum hosted by the Alliance for SoCal Innovation here in Irvine. I had the pleasure of appearing with Jesus Roman, VP for state and local government affairs at Verizon Communications, to talk about the best ways to create public-private partnerships (PPPs) and advance economic development.
I had the opportunity to talk about how Sunstone has added an educational E to PPP (making it PPEP) by collaborating with and supporting programs at California universities. We support programs at USC, UC Irvine, California State University, Long Beach, and the entire CSU system to help train young entrepreneurs and prepare them to join the startup ecosystem.
Finding The Money
I’ve written before about how important access to capital can be to people trying to start and grow a business. It takes money to hire experts, develop products, market to consumers or other businesses and to simply keep the doors open.
In the context of PPEP partnerships, working with governments to provide financial incentives is key. We’re working now to connect our founders to state matching fund programs in California, New York and New Jersey. Moreover, in some instances we provide some of the matching money the government requires as capital investments.
Through our affiliate company, American Lending Center, we also are able to help connect founders with the Small Business Administration and low-interest loan programs available there. That includes California’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). And we’re working now with the National ACE (Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship) organization to be its capital access partner for its national and state SSBCI programs.
Events such as the SoCal Alliance’s Ecosystem Leadership Forum are great venues to create or renew the connections to make those government partnerships work. Getting stakeholders – investors, government types, support organization and more – together is key to the kind of person-to-person communication required to make it all happen.
Our philosophy of partnering with others goes back to near our beginning in Long Beach. I was on the other side of the fence then, as director of the Long Beach Economic Development Department. John Shen, Sunstone’s founder, and I got to know each other and worked together with Dr. Wade Martin at CSULB to create the Long Beach Accelerator.
We thought then that it would be good to provide a place to offer training and technical assistance to people trying to start and/or expand their business. We focused on tech-oriented concepts and founders from under-represented populations – women, people of color and more.
To say it was a success would be an understatement. Cohort members get help with business plans, marketing, fund development strategies and more. Since launching classes in February 2021, 37 companies have completed the accelerator program, raising more than $28 million combined. Seven of those companies have received acquisition offers already.
We’re hoping to replicate that success in partnership with Irvine (our headquarters are here) and other California cities. Just last month, Irvine’s City Council approved a Letter of Intent to work with Sunstone to launch an accelerator here.
In Long Beach, we’ve become part of a larger partnership with city government, the LBA, nonprofit economic development groups and more to turn Mayor Rex Richardson’s vision of launching 100 startup companies in the next five years into reality.
Together – as partners – we will make that happen. That’s The Sunstone Way!
And as always, be a Sunstone!
CEO & Managing Partner
Sunstone Management, Inc.
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Note: This blog post is 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 in an investment fund (“Fund”).
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.
More About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered 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. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.
© Sunstone Management Inc., 2023