Developing the Farm System of Next Generation Businesses

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Welcome back to the Sunstone Way.

Major League Baseball is back in full swing – one of my favorite times of the year. I particularly enjoy watching the rookie stars who have worked their way up through the farm system of minor league teams affiliated with the franchises in the Majors.

It’s also a good time to talk about how we at Sunstone Management help cultivate and train talented entrepreneurs, preparing them and their startup companies for the Major Leagues of the business world. I like to compare our approach to The (St. Louis) Cardinal Way, a book about one of the most successful farm systems in the Major Leagues.

We partner with higher education institutions – the California State University system, the University of Southern California – to identify and encourage the Founders who will become the business of tomorrow. We’re extremely lucky in California to have universities that believe in supporting entrepreneurship, with programs designed specifically to nurture founders and their ideas.

Spring is the time to watch the Major League rookies, and it’s also the time to support our budding entrepreneurial superstars as they present their ideas and how they have been developed over the last year. Through our charitable arm, the Sunstone Community Fund, we provide prize money at several prestigious pitch competitions.


USC is hosting the finals of two different competitions on Thursday, April 27. The Sunstone Prize of $35,000 will be awarded to the grand prize winner in the New Venture Seed Competition at the USC Marshall School of Business’s Lloyd Greif Center. This is the largest competition for entrepreneurs at USC with a total prize pool of $150,000.

On the same day, the USC Price School of Public Policy announced the winners of the Sunstone Economic Development Challenge. Sunstone has supported the program since it began in February with contacts, speaker seminars and more. Students partnered with four cities – Long Beach, Irvine, El Segundo, and Garden Grove – to come up with forward-looking strategies for startup business support and job creation.  More information about that event here.

Sunstone has signed agreements to continue both of these programs for the next five years.


We’ve also partnered with another set of farm teams at the California State University and University of California systems.

Last week, the Sunstone Innovation Challenge took place in partnership with the Cal State Long Beach Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Four finalists pitched their concepts for new businesses. The winner received $15,000 in seed funding and space, marketing, legal and accounting services totaling up to $35,000. Second place was worth $10,000 and the honorable mentions both received $5,000; Sunstone provided $25,000 of the prize money.

Also, Sunstone has made a major commitment to a CSU system-wide competition on tap for the first week in May. Teams from 18 of the 23 CSU campuses will gather at San José State University in a pitch competition with $200,000 in prize money provided by the Sunstone Community Fund.

As our economic development director Eric Romero said, “We are grateful to the entire CSU system for the foundation it has created for emerging entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into companies that advance economic development in the Golden State.”

These young entrepreneurs are our farm system, our country’s farm system of future business Major Leaguers. We want to help them develop.

It’s the Sunstone Way.


More 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.

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Startup Resources

We are passionate about supporting tech entrepreneurs like you by presenting an array of resources. Each resource is capable of assisting with the various stages of you venture, please review and explore the relevant programs that best suits your situation.

Sunstone Community Fund

The Sunstone Community Fund is committed to catalyzing partnerships that create economic opportunities for startup founders and communities throughout the United States. That’s just one of the reasons why we choose to give back to the community.