Inception: Scratch DJ Academy

I’m always envious of the DJs I see at events, scratching records and dropping beats (I sound cheesy, but it’s true!).  I had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Principe, founder of Scratch DJ Academy, the world’s leading DJ learning center, which Rob co-founded with the late Jam Master Jay of Run DMC.  This Duke alum sits on the Board of Directors for several musical foundations, and is on the Board of Advisors to the 92nd Street Y Tribeca. Music to this Tribeca girl’s ears!  Wondering how he got started and became a success?  Read on…


Name? Rob Principe

Age? 39

Degrees (and from where)?  BA in Sociology from Duke University

When/how did you come up with the idea for your business?

I was at an event and was incredibly inspired by the DJ who was performing.  After some research I realized there was a very high barrier to entry for aspiring DJs and no marquee brands in the space.  I wanted to make the DJ art form more accessible, build a brand, provide a needed service and help consolidate the fragmented space.


What was the hardest part about turning your idea into a reality, and how did you get past it? 

Getting to critical mass.  I got past it by building value every day, one step at a time.


What is your favorite thing about owning your own business?

I get to build my own team of people to work with who inspire me on a daily basis.


What is your least favorite thing about owning your own business?

The two panic attacks a day.


What kind of hours do you work and do you find you still have time for friends and family?  

I generally work about 10-12 hour days.  There’s always time for family and friends.  Sometimes it’s a bit harder to find, but my people are very understanding of that.


What was your most meaningful experience (job or internship) prior to becoming an entrepreneur?

I’d say my first job out of college.  It was incredibly eye opening to see how businesses run and people interact.  Much of my work ethic and outlook I developed from that experience.


Ever work a job you wish you could forget?

Nope.  I’ve learned from every job I’ve ever had.


Where do you envision yourself 10 years from today?

Around amazing people doing inspiring work.  Definitely near a palm tree.


What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?

Paranoia is a good thing.


Is there anything about owning your own business that you wish you knew before you started?

Not really.  There’s not much preparation for this type of experience.  You kind of have to roll up your sleeves and jump in head first.  Without a life vest and no land in sight for a long time.  Sounds fun, right?  It is!