John Z. Shen, born Zhong Shen on January 23, 1970, is a Chinese-American entrepreneur known for his diverse career and contributions across multiple industries. Belonging to Beijing, China, Shen began his educational journey that led him to Peking University Law School and later Duke University, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Statistics and Decision Sciences. His career path initially saw him as a statistician in Kalamazoo, Michigan, followed by years in the US pharmaceutical sector. However, his pivotal transition occurred in 2002 when he ventured into the real estate business in Florida.
Despite facing challenges during the 2007 real estate crash, Shen demonstrated flexibility and relocated to California to rebuild his career. Notably, Shen’s role as a parallel entrepreneur took center stage in 2009 when he founded American Lending Center (ALC), a non-bank small business lending institution that skillfully merged the EB-5 program and SBA 504 loan program, earning recognition as the “SBA 504 Lender of the Year.” Beyond ALC, Shen founded Eritage LLC, Sunstone Management, Sunstone Trust Company, and Partake Collective, showcasing his dynamic presence in various sectors, including real estate, finance, and technology.
Shen’s early life began in Beijing, China. His family background brings a wealth of academic pursuits. His father, Tianyou Shen, served as a professor at Peking University, while his mother, Zhiwan Zheng, worked as a high school teacher. Shen’s educational journey commenced after graduating from high school, leading him to enroll in Peking University Law School in 1988, where he pursued his undergraduate degree, which he earned in 1992. His interest led him to pursue a Master’s Degree in Statistics and Decision Sciences at Duke University in North Carolina, concluding in his graduation in 1996.
Shen’s exploration into entrepreneurship is marked by a series of ventures and strategic achievements. In 2009, he founded American Lending Center (ALC), a significant milestone in his career. ALC underwent a transformative phase, evolving into a non-bank small business lending institution. Shen’s innovative approach involved the seamless integration of the EB-5 program, designed to attract foreign investment into the United States, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan program, aimed at financing the growth of job-creating small businesses. This visionary blend of programs contributed to ALC’s remarkable success, recognized with the prestigious “SBA 504 Lender of the Year” award. Shen’s entrepreneurial endeavors extended to other ventures, including Eritage LLC (Eritage), a vineyard resort that opened its doors in 2017, and Sunstone Management (Sunstone), a private investment firm with a growing portfolio.
These achievements led to ALC and Sunstone’s inclusion in the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies” and recognition in the list of “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” by the Financial Times in consecutive years. Shen’s entrepreneurial spirit further manifested in the establishment of Sunstone Trust Company (STC) and Partake Collective (Partake). Beyond business, his active involvement in the Long Beach Accelerator and other boards underscored his commitment to promoting innovation and growth in various sectors.
Shen’s commitment to community engagement and his notable awards highlight his contributions. He served on the Economic Development Commission of Long Beach, playing an active role in shaping local economic growth and development. His dedication extended to membership in the Irvine Innovation Council, where he contributed insights and expertise in the region. Shen’s achievements have been acknowledged through various awards, including the prestigious “Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2021.
He has also been recognized as an “Orange County Visionary” and a “Distinguished Leader in Wealth Management,” reflecting his influential presence in the business community. In 2023, Shen received the “Man of the Year” award from the Top 100 Registry, further outlining his impact in the field of finance. Additionally, his engagements at the national level included meetings with President Joe Biden and hosting Vice President Kamala Harris, signifying his role as a prominent figure in the political and business landscape.
In conclusion, John Z. Shen’s journey from his early life in China to becoming a prominent figure in the United States is a testament to his adaptability, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit. Through his diverse career, he has made significant contributions to various industries, from real estate to finance and technology. Shen’s role as a parallel entrepreneur, exemplified by his founding of the American Lending Center (ALC) and other successful ventures, has garnered recognition and awards in the business world.