The 10th annual Sunstone Innovation Challenge held its final pitches and announced winners on Monday, May 11 over livestream. Four teams of university students and independent professionals participated in the finals to develop and launch innovative ideas and a business plan addressing the core concepts of desirability, viability and feasibility. Sunstone Management, a local investment firm, partnered with California State University Long Beach (CSULB) to sponsor the university’s annual competition.
Two start-ups, PeriDeals and White Rabbit, beat out over 40 teams over the course of six months to land first and second place, respectively. The finalists were judged by a panel of three successful entrepreneurs and investors experienced in the local startup space.
PeriDeals, the challenge winner, is a free app that connects students with local markdown deals on perishable foods. The startup also helps grocery stores save food and minimize the cost of inventory shrink, tackling both food insecurity and waste issues. White Rabbit, the runner up, is developing a chemical based process to create fabric from recycled textiles and lint. The startup plans to utilize electrospinning to increase clothing and plastics recycling as well as address damaging fabric waste in landfills.
The competition, launched over a decade ago as a platform to encourage entrepreneurship, has grown significantly since Sunstone signed on in 2019. On Monday, Sunstone presented the winning team with $15,000 in seed funding as well as wraparound support in the form of co-working space, marketing, legal and accounting services totaling up to $35,000. Further, this year the runner-up received $10,000 in seed funding as well.
“Central to Sunstone’s model is the impetus to fund sustainable and innovative business ideas that have the potential to impact our society,” said John Shen, Sunstone’s founding partner. “This program propels entrepreneurs towards the successful commercialization of innovative ideas. I was honored to serve as judge last year, and Sunstone is proud to be part of the Challenge for years to come.”
Wade Martin, CSULB’S director of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, added: “This Challenge allows young innovators to explore creative business opportunities in a structured, supported way – success demonstrated by all this year’s finalists. We are excited about the partnership of Sunstone and the Colleges of the Arts, Business and Engineering at CSULB, which allows us to expand the opportunities for CSULB student entrepreneurs.”
About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management, with subsidiary Sunstone Venture Capital Fund, is a diversified private capital management and investment firm offering comprehensive wealth management solutions to high net worth clients worldwide. Focusing on investments in U.S. based small businesses and lower middle markets, its offerings are carefully structured to meet targeted investor goals ranging from short term senior debt products to longer term, equity, growth capital, and venture capital investment strategies. Sunstone is extremely active as an investor in tech startups as a founding member of the Long Beach Accelerator.