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From the Cube of CSI

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mark Hill becomes Trinity’s second entrepreneur-in-residence

A product developer, multimedia producer, and technology manager, Mark Hill ’77 has worked everywhere from Quadrant Productions to Datapoint to world-famous Apple. For the 2015-16 academic year, he joins the faculty at Trinity University and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as the entrepreneur-in-residence. Hill teaches an entry-level course titled Introduction to Entrepreneurial Opportunities, open to all students regardless of year or major. In the course students are divided into teams and come up with business ideas that they work to turn into real-life business opportunities. Trinity sits down with Hill as he helps guide the latest generation of Tiger entrepreneurs.

Trinity University: What is your course about?

Hill: This class familiarizes students with what it takes to start a business or turn an idea--specifically a business idea--into reality. The idea does not have to be a for-profit business, either, because we encourage social entrepreneurship as well. We start the course by teaching students to think creatively, which is a difficult thing to teach.

TU: Who can enroll in this course?

H: It is open to all students, and we have a majority of first-years, sophomores, and juniors. This course is also good to take when you are getting ready to graduate because if you have the ambition to go out in the world after you graduate and become your own boss, this is a good introduction to that.  

TU: What publications and books do you encourage students to read to enter an entrepreneurial mindset?

H: In class I have held up The New York Times, which students have a free subscription to on campus. This is the best newspaper in the world. I have held up magazines like Streaming Media Magazine, TIME, and Popular Mechanics. I mention NPR and PBS. I have said that creativity does not happen in a vacuum. You have to have information: some of that information is stuff that might inspire you and give you an idea, and some of it is just information that you need to know to see if an idea has already been done elsewhere. You don’t have to read every issue of every magazine in the library, but students do need to be aware of available resources.

TU: What is something from your professional experience that shapes how you teach and mentor students?

H: I just try to be myself and to listen to them very carefully. I give them whatever advice I have to offer, and I do try to explain to them what it was like to work in entrepreneurial companies like Apple and at Datapoint before that.

TU: How do you guide students when they are thinking of business ideas?

H: It is not easy. Every student is not going to come up with a breakthrough product or some groundbreaking service, but they do need to come up with something. We really prefer that they come up with something that an investor would be interested in, that could become a corporation that sells shares and has real growth potential.

TU: How would you describe your mentorship style?

H: I hope that I am pretty approachable and easy to talk to. This class is not so focused on a lecture format, but is more about encouraging students to work amongst themselves in groups and to accomplish things together.

Mark Hill graduated from Trinity in 1977 with a bachelor of arts in communication (journalism, broadcast and film) and the minor-equivalent in computer science.