No idea is a bad idea, at least not for Michelle Mudge-Riley ’99. As the third entrepreneur-in-residence for Trinity’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mudge-Riley returns to San Antonio to mold the latest generation of startup leaders. She is the founder of two businesses: Physicians Helping Physicians, designed to reinvigorate doctors with purpose, and DocRD, a company meant to combine the knowledge of doctors and dietitians to best serve their patients. Mudge-Riley teaches Introduction to Entrepreneurship I, an entry-level course open to students of all majors and class years. She chats with Trinity about coming home to campus, pursuing innovation, and taking charge of destiny.
Trinity University: What is it like to return to campus as a professor?
Mudge-Riley: Nearly 20 years later things have changed so much, not only in San Antonio but on campus as well. The fountain has moved. Northrup has been redone and is beautiful. CSI is here. It has been really cool reconnecting with the faculty I knew before. It has been exciting to come back to Trinity and to get to know the students now and to see the similarities from when I was a student.
TU: What excites you about this course?
MR: I am excited to expose students to entrepreneurship and how they could start a business right now. It kind of blows people away sometimes. Students come here and are excited when they realize they could do something, even this year. In this class we are doing lean startups, and I am having a lot of guest speakers and brainstorming sessions.
TU: How do you draw on your background for this new position?
MR: As a physician and dietitian, I bring a deep knowledge of health care to this position. I also have a masters in health care administration. The more important thing, really, is my experience starting and running two companies.
TU: What should students be reading to enter an entrepreneurial mindset?
MR: One resource is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which we use in class. The second is SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs, which is a free email blast that you can subscribe to that sends you headlines, once a week, from various magazines such as Inc., Fast Company, and Entrepreneur. All of these magazines talk about incorporating a business, marketing ideas, or they have different stories of successful entrepreneurs and companies, ones you know and others that are growing. The beauty of it is free content.
TU: How do you mentor students and help them develop their business ideas?
MR: Overall, I am a very positive and optimistic person. When someone comes to me with an idea, my reaction is to get them talking about it, and then I start asking questions. Sometimes the ‘worst’ ideas are actually the best ideas. I love that part of it. The other important thing is to spend time with the students and to give a safe place to just talk. All Trinity students are smart, creative, and have good ideas. I’m there to help ideas evolve and for people to bounce ideas off. This year I am going to spend some evenings in the Entrepreneurship Hall in McLean, and I am going to bring food and hang out. It is my startup experiment! I think it will be a way for people to chat with me informally outside of my office hours.
TU: Why should this be a course that all students enroll in?
MR: This course exposes students to ideas and ways that they can control their own destiny. Most people do not want to work for someone their entire lives. Even for those who want to work for a big company, being able to be an ‘intrapreneur,’ where you can take ideas and run with them, might allow you to get promoted faster. Trinity students are all creative and leaders, really. I feel like anyone could benefit from this course. It is about long-term goals to work for yourself or to be a leader within a company.
Michelle Mudge-Riley graduated from Trinity in 1999 with a bachelor of science in chemistry.