Coming From a Family of Entrepreneurs, Center Grad Jerry Trotter Excels

Jerry Trotter

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

Jerry Trotter has been around, seen a lot. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a young man, followed through with college and earned an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at the University of South Florida. He took what he learned and dove into the health-care industry as a marketing representative and then a manager.

But he always thought there was something more.

"I come from a family of entrepreneurs," he said. "My grandfather owned a tropical fish farm and land for logging. My father started several businesses, including pond stocking, cattle farming and roofing.

"Despite my family's success," he said, "the industry I wanted to pursue could best be leveraged through honing skills and education. I felt I needed to learn how to evaluate markets, identify opportunities and be able to sculpt a real business around a service or product.

"I wanted to be a change advocate."

He found the entrepreneurship program at the Muma College of Business. The Center for Entrepreneurship recently was ranked No. 10 in the nation for graduate entrepreneurship programs and was named the best program in the Southeast by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. The center also won USF World's Global Achievement Award for extending USF's global footprint.

What the center offered was what Trotter wanted and needed.

"The entrepreneurship program came at an important turning point in my career," he said. "It taught me invaluable skills in how to design product around a market niche, from the back-end costs to bringing the product to market to the front-end marketing the product to the consumer. I learned broadly applicable, critical thinking skills that could be applied to any industry of my choosing.

He said the program wove different industries together offering a balanced program that included topics in health care, engineering and business. It helped him broaden his business network, with people "who wanted to push beyond the status quo.

"In the end, I was able to leverage my background and this education into becoming a business mentor for start-up businesses in biomedical sciences and engineering," said Trotter, 32. "I started a successful consulting company, helping businesses gain vital funding to build their operations. In whatever situation I found myself, I felt comfortable due to the strong foundation the entrepreneurship program provided me."

And there's more to Trotter's life. He has started medical school here at USF and is studying to become a medical doctor. He's also the outreach director for Tampa Bay Street Medicine, a student organization that provides healthcare to the homeless.

The organization has grown rapidly since its inception just a few years ago, he said, with services that include two monthly clinics, two street runs where medical services are provided and outreach runs for nonclinical services to the homeless.