Inc. 5000 Honoree Spotlight:
Sunstone Management was not the first company founded by John Shen, a serial financial entrepreneur, but it could easily be the most efficient he has built in a short period of time.
The best asset Shen brought to Sunstone in 2015 was a fast-growing network of high net-worth investors from his other successful business venture, American Lending Center (ALC), a nationally recognized nonbank lending company. Knowing there was an incredible amount of undiscovered investment potential among these clients, Shen seized the opportunity to start another business journey. “Understanding the needs of my clients was the first and most important step,” Shen says. Such attention to client needs is why Sunstone took off so quickly.
LISTENING TO HIS CLIENTS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR NEEDS
“Identifying the gap between what the clients want and what is currently being offered gives me an opportunity to create truly advantageous services they love,” Shen says. This idea changed everything.
Every year since its inception, Sunstone has swiftly adapted to the needs of both client and market, whether by forming, refining, or developing new services and products.
Less than five years later, Sunstone qualified for inclusion on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Following in the footsteps of sister company ALC – a Los Angeles Business Journal “Best Places to Work” – Sunstone made the lists of “Best Places to Work,” “Best Small Companies to Work For,” and “Companies with the Best Benefits.”
FORGING THE RIGHT PARTNERSHIPS
As a diversified private capital management and investment firm focusing on U.S.-based small businesses and lower middle markets, Sunstone successfully developed valuable partnerships in the SBA lending industry.
The firm has also established its expertise with regards to exclusive nationwide debt and private equity opportunities in lower middle markets.
Many of Sunstone’s clients favor venture capital (VC) investments. In response to his VC investors, Shen structured a strategic partnership with one of the most successful angel investment groups in the U.S. This partnership offered a series of top-line investment opportunities through select private funds specifically designed for Sunstone clients.
“We took a lot of time to figure out exactly what clients wanted, and then we developed the right partnerships producing the products that fit what they required,” Shen explains.
This is great news for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), which frequently lack access to the capital that could increase their growth and success. “With full access to financing, some of them would be on their way to becoming future Fortune 500 companies,” Shen says. His clients aspire to foster that type of business growth.
While Shen’s own expertise includes commercial lending, structural financing, private equity, and venture capital fund management, he credits his team with Sunstone’s considerable success.
“One person can’t build a strong company. You need strong partners. I’ve been very fortunate to have good partners join me through the years and great employees making tremendous contributions,” Shen says.