Young Entrepreneur Balances Dual Role as Student and Marketing Executive
It’s only his first semester on campus, but David Prince has a pretty good idea of what he wants to major in—marketing.
He’s been doing it professionally since tenth-grade.
At 21, the Syms School of Business student is president of a full-service management and consulting firm he founded four years ago, Prince Management. At an age when many college students are writing their first cover letters to their first internships, Prince has represented and secured endorsements and business opportunities for a wide range of clientele in the entertainment and corporate world, including NFL and NBA athletes, rappers, musicians and charitable foundations.
So how does a yeshiva kid from Highland Park, New Jersey become a successful public relations executive before he graduates high school? And what brings him back to the classroom when his career has already taken off?
According to Prince, it all started with a marketing internship at Marc Ecko Enterprises in the summer after ninth-grade. “I always knew that I loved business, but didn’t necessarily know what industry or what capacity I’d be involved in,” said Prince. “I fell in love with marketing.”
Prince spun his internship at Ecko into a full-time position as a marketing and public relations coordinator, with responsibilities that included social media, networking and marketing strategies. In an effort to attract celebrities to a fundraising event for Tikva, an orphanage Ecko supports in the Ukraine, Prince reached out to many well-known names. One of them was NBA player Al Harrington—then a member of the Golden State Warriors.
“I set up a lunch and my goal was to convince him to get involved with Ecko,” Prince said. However, Harrington was so impressed by Prince’s sincerity and enthusiasm for Tikva that he turned the conversation around. “He asked me if I’d be interested in working with him.”
Prince was 17 at the time.
After a follow-up meeting in Harrington’s off-season Las Vegas home, it was official—marketing and public relations for Harrington and the Al Harrington Foundation were in Prince’s hands. “I had no idea how to do it all,” Prince said. “It probably wasn’t the smartest thing but sometimes you just have to be able to go with your gut and say, ‘Yeah, I can figure this out. This is going to work.’ It did.
“Thank God, within two weeks we had endorsement opportunities on the table, I got him scheduled to film MTV’s Cribs and we were already planning the first foundation event.”
His work with Harrington was so successful that Prince began to think about offering his talent to others. “The summer before my senior year, I walked into my local accountant’s office and created an LLC,” he said. At awards shows and in locker rooms after games, he reached out to recording artists, athletes and others who could use his services. Today, Prince has a growing clientele.
So college, especially the intensity of Yeshiva University’s dual curriculum, may seem like an odd choice. But for Prince, who was awarded a scholarship by the McKelvey Foundation for his entrepreneurial skills, it was the only option.
“The stuff you learn on your own is in some ways the most valuable education you’ll ever get,” said Prince, “but I also wanted grounding in the areas I wouldn’t necessarily come across because I’m not in every industry. I’m taking finance and accounting classes that are important to give you the roundedness of a full business education.”
At YU, Prince can also focus on another pillar of his personal and professional life: Torah.
“I chose YU because the religious aspect was extremely important to me. It’s hard enough to find time to learn even in a good environment. Here learning is constantly accessible.”
It’s also in tune with what Prince views as a key life lesson: “Surround yourself with people you admire and look up to, whether in business or your personal life,” said Prince. “That’s why I’m at YU now—incredible people.”
For Prince, business ventures and opportunities never come at the cost of his Torah values or Jewish identity. “I’m a Jewish businessman,” said Prince. “Whatever I do, I do as a Jew.” That’s why you’ll never find Prince without a yarmulke at any show or arena. “My kippa grounds me and tells everyone else where I’m holding. I think of it as a great opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem [sanctification of God's name] wherever I go.”
The ‘holding’ hasn’t always been easy. Prince recently returned from two years of study in Israel, several time zones and continents away from an industry he described as “all about personality and face-to-face communication.” Nevertheless, he is proud of those years and considers them an investment in himself and his business.
“It didn’t make sense for me to be 17 and flying out to Las Vegas, hanging out with basketball players and celebrities,” said Prince. “Obviously that all came from something bigger. I could say that going to Israel for two years was one of the most difficult things for my professional career, but that learning is the fuel I’m using for my life now.”
What’s next for Prince? He’s not sure, but he’s excited to find out. “My dream is to work in a place where I feel I can make a difference in the world,” he said. “That’s the only thing I really want to do.” For other young entrepreneurs, Prince offers advice in a similar vein: “Don’t give up on a good idea… there are ideas that pop into your head, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, which, if you put a little confidence into them, can sprout into something beautiful and incredible.”