Creative Minds Compete at the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition

Sunstone supports student entrepreneurs at CSU-wide competition

SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--Imagine gathering nearly 100 of the top university innovators and entrepreneurs in California together in one place, pitching their ideas in a competition to win enough money to start making their dreams come true.

Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore. On May 5, the Sunstone CSU Startup Competition will do just that at San José State University. Teams from 18 of the 23 California State University campuses will gather in a pitch competition with a total of $200,000 in prize money at stake.

Hosted by the SJSU SpartUp Program, this is the second year of the Sunstone Startup Competition. In 2022, teams from five campuses gathered at Cal State Long Beach for the first competition under the auspices of the CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Sunstone Management, a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Irvine, Calif., focuses on early-stage startup companies through partnerships with higher education institutions, governments, accelerators and more. Sunstone sponsored the event through its donor-advised fund, Sunstone Community Fund.

"The founders of Sunstone Management believe that the California State University system, with its 23 great universities and more than 500,000 creative and talented students, will be responsible for creating several new technology startups that will shape the future of the California economy — the 4th largest economy in the world,” said Sunstone CEO John Keisler.

Two pre-qualified teams of student entrepreneurs from each campus will pitch their startups to panels of expert judges. There will be five tracks in the competition — two product tracks, two services tracks and a social entrepreneurship track.

Judges will evaluate pitches based on desirability, feasibility, and viability. There will be first, second and third place awards in each track, winning $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.

This is a competition designed for true startups — only those with less than $10,000 in revenue from products or services are allowed to compete. At least one team member must be either an undergraduate or recent graduate (less than a year) from the respective university.

Still, the goal of the competition is to launch new enterprises.

"The Sunstone Community Fund was created to catalyze opportunities for startup founders to access the resources, networks, and support they need to launch successful companies,” said Eric Romero, Sunstone Economic Development Director. “The Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition is just one example of how the Sunstone Community Fund is making an impact in the California startup ecosystem. 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.”

The competition has grown from five to 18 campuses in just its second year. There will be teams from CSU Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, Fresno State, CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly Humboldt, CSU Long Beach, Cal State Los Angeles, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, Sacramento State, CSU San Bernardino, San Diego State, San Francisco State, San Jose State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU San Marcos, and Sonoma State.

For more information about the event, go to For more about Sunstone Management, go to

© 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.

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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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Jennifer Huang, Sunstone Management
(562) 732-0617,


Jennifer Huang, Sunstone Management
(562) 732-0617,