Board Members

  • Gerhard Apfelthaler is the Dean of the School of Management at California Lutheran University. As an educator, an intra-preneur a co-founder of several companies, and a father of three boys, he sees Start-Up Kids as a way of sharing his passion to create and his ability to build.

  • Maria Ballesteros - Sola is an Assistant Professor of Management at the MVS School of Business & Economics at California State University Channel Islands. She holds a DBA from IE Business School, an MBA earned with high honors at Boston University and a law degree from the Jesuit University ICADE in Madrid (Spain). Through her service-learning project she is also highly involved with the local non-profit community. Maria loves to create initiatives that have societal impact.

  • Julian Espinosa teaches people how to use the internet to improves their lives. He is a creative entrepreneur and growth hacker whose focus is to build impactful campaigns that deliver results to his clients.

  • Zach Garcia is a local entrepreneur and lifelong Ventura native. Zach graduated from California Lutheran University with a degree in Business Administration and an Emphasis in Entrepreneurship. While attending Cal Lutheran, Zach co-founded the university’s first student-led entrepreneurship organization - now called Startup CLU - out of his love for igniting the entrepreneurial spark in others. Now, he brings his passion for entrepreneurial development to Start-Up Kids.

  • Megan Kenny Feister is passionate about collaboration, innovation, team processes and decision-making, engineering design, technology and its impacts on organizational and personal life, as well as organizational identity, identification, and culture and public relations. She has a Ph. D. from Purdue and is an Assistant Professor at California State University Channel Islands.

  • Nathaniel Thompson graduated with a degree in Economics from California Lutheran University. He has played four years of both College Football and Baseball, and is now attending grad school. He is involved in several entrepreneurial ventures and loves being involved in the community which is only fitting that he does most of the content creation and marketing.

  • Rita Vaiman is an Adjunct Professor of Economics and Statistics at California Lutheran University’s School of Management. She holds an honor BA degree in Economics and Business from York University in Canada, as well as both an MBA and a M.Sc. in Organizational Behavior and Talent Management from Reykjavik University (Iceland). Rita is enthusiastic about learning and sees a lot of value in early entrepreneurship education for children of elementary school age and beyond.

  • Vlad Vaiman is an Associate Dean and Professor at the School of Management of California Lutheran University, a visiting professor at several premier universities around the world, and a prolific international consultant in the area of talent management. Vlad cares about developing the next generation of talent.


The Start-Up Kids program is delivered by a broad spectrum of experienced instructors, ranging from college professors and students of entrepreneurship to entrepreneurs who want to give back. Eventually, we'll provide profiles of all these fine individuals:

  • Gerhard Apfelthaler

  • Dariush Apfelthaler

  • Maria Ballesteros-Sola

  • Zach Garcia

  • Tess Listick

  • Zujaja Tehreem

  • Jose E. Mendoza Vazquez

  • Rita Vaiman

  • Vlad Vaiman

  • and many more....

If you are interested in becoming a Start-Up Kids Instructor, please contact us.