California Lutheran University to Launch Veterans Entrepreneurship Institute

CLU starts vets entrepreneurship program

University increases emphasis on job-creating skills

California Lutheran University is launching a Veterans Entrepreneurship Institute in January as part of an increased emphasis on preparing people to create their own business opportunities.

Nelson Pizarro, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship in CLU’s School of Management, will lead 10 three-hour Saturday workshops for military veterans. Each of the 20 participants in the pilot program will receive a full scholarship, with partial funding coming from a Ventura Country Community Foundation grant.

Pizarro, who founded six companies and has conducted business in 46 countries, will help veterans to build on the discipline, commitment and leadership they developed through military service. New skills such as entrepreneurial thinking will help participants to either start their own businesses or improve their prospects in the job market. Each participant will create a product or service during the course.

The program is part of a new emphasis on entrepreneurship at CLU driven by School of Management Dean Gerhard Apfelthaler. It has resulted in the addition of faculty, curricula and programs.

Under Pizarro’s guidance, a student entrepreneurship club has formed and started organizing events. The School of Management revived its free Entrepreneur Roundtable lecture series for the public this summer, and Pizarro has started a new professional mentor program. Apfelthaler is starting a seed fund for students and alumni to test their concepts and an accelerator fund to help launch tested ideas. The university plans to launch an incubation facility in Westlake Village in 2014.

Pizarro has developed three new courses for the entrepreneurship track in the MBA program. One of the classes, which covers entrepreneurial thinking, will also be offered for undergraduate students in all disciplines.

Bill Gartner, a new faculty member and one of the most-cited scholars on entrepreneurship, will begin teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in new-venture development in January. He also plans to teach an entrepreneurship course in summer that would be the university’s first massive open online course (MOOC). Gartner will work with faculty to integrate entrepreneurial thinking across all disciplines, particularly in the arts and humanities, and organize a summer speaker series. He was formerly the Henry W. Simonsen Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California and the director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Georgetown University.

The deadline to apply for the Veterans Entrepreneurship Institute is Jan. 6. To complete an application, visit For more information, contact Pizarro at 805-493-3371 or