Academy Spotlight: Riley Koidahl '18

A young man in a USC shirt sits on the hood of a black car parked in the middle of an empty street under a bridge.

"The Academy constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone, and creates an environment of passion and drive." Senior Riley Koidahl is a car aficionado who's shifted his love of rebuilding vintage cars into an ecommerce business that makes and sells vintage car parts designed by Riley himself.  Here, he shares what drives and motivates him...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy?  What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?
I wanted a program that nurtured all of my brain, not just one area. The Academy constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone, and creates an environment of passion and drive.

What project are you working on currently? 
For my Garage Experience project, I'm building a marketplace platform for buying and selling car wheels. I was fed up with the generic options, such as Craigslist and miscellaneous forums, so I set out  to build a better way.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?
While I’ve never met him, I like to think of Jeff Jordan as a mentor. He’s worked at many companies I respect, such as PayPal, eBay, AirBnB, etc, and I’ve gotten a lot of useful advice from his podcasts.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?
There are many quotes, but here’s a recent one I like: "Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive." - Andrew Grove, former CEO, Intel

What advice would you give to a freshman?
USC has a deep network, so tap into it from every angle. Join clubs, chat with strangers, and go to parties. You never know where you’ll meet new friends or a future business partner!

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you? 
Through entrepreneurship, I want to make enough money to fund my ultimate goal of racing cars and competing around the world.

What the one thing you’re parents taught you that you’d like to share?
It’s better for a few people to respect and love you for who you are than to have many people respect and love you for who you aren't.


Essential things you keep in your backpack?
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones AND earbuds (i.e. two sets of headphones), pens, gum, laptop, fruit, etc...

Favorite App or Website?
Instagram is pretty great. I’m also constantly checking Craigslist, eBay, and a multitude of car websites.

Fav class at USC and why?
Innovators Forum. Hearing advice from successful people of all walks of life is invaluable. Innovators Forum nurtures both tangible skills and inspires you.

Favorite way to de-stress?
Listen to music, meditate, go on a drive in the mountains, or eat tasty food.

Guilty pleasure?
Going to sleep early, around 9 p.m., like an old man. It feels great!

Thank you Riley!