I was at a party in Soho this past December where I had the pleasure of meeting Rana Sobhany who is known as the iPad DJ. She has some serious energy and I was delighted that she reads my blog and had made my chocolate chip cookies. We planned to meet for breakfast. One thing turned into another as life gets in the way and we finally had our breakfast this past week.
We sat down for breakfast in the raging snowstorm. She had just come in from New Jersey where she is recording. Her energy is not only incredible so is her story. Clocking in at a mere 24 years old, she has had quite a interesting life.
Growing up in Fairfax, VA with Steve Case of AOL as her neighbor. Her elementary school was used as a test case so she began playing with computers at 4. Would have loved to see someone track all the kids that went to that school.
Rana was always into music playing; viola, violin and voice including competitive tennis to one her activities. It was those two activities including the tech world as the third that got Rana to where she is today.
A super smart girl who found herself in her early teens having to pull out of tennis and needing serious surgery on her foot which now has 9 screws in it. She was frustrated, had enough of High School and had taken plenty of AP classes and begged her Mom to let her go to college. She applied to George Mason and entered college at 16.
She had always envisioned herself being a Senator or at least doing something in politics. The first two years at George Mason she worked for a company to do grassroots lobbying. Two years of seeing a different side of politics she opted out; not for her. A friend of hers recommended she take some Communications classes because it might be something she’d be interested in and she was spot on. Once Rana graduated she went to work for a company where AOL was one of their biggest clients. She was hired to work in the marketing department. Found herself being able to do her job in so little time that she spent the rest of the day hanging out in the tech division and looking how to write code. At home, she was playing guitar and at work she was playing with computers.
Rana’s best pals were computer engineers. There were a lot of layoffs around that time taking place at AOL. She had an idea that she would create a company that would outbound all the communications for the variety of start-ups that were cropping up around the DC area at that time quickly signing up a bunch of companies. Five weeks into that business and an investment company gave her some money to buy her out and incorporate her business into theirs. This particular company owned a variety of domains names that they wanted Rana to develop. Between managing the communications for over 13 companies she was created companies around the domain names.
In 2007, life changed when the iPhone came to market. Rana and the person she was working with decided that they should create an advertising agency around the iPhone. They moved to NYC and in 41 days from the launch of the App store their business started tracking behavioral recognition to measure the data offline on apps. Sharing their information with Apple. Sounds like a big whatever but at that time this was cutting edge stuff.
Rana was finding herself bored and pining for another start-up as the business wasn’t moving the needle anymore. She thought about writing a book about the first 500 days of the app. She did and it was eventually published the book is called Mobilize: Strategies for Success from the Frontlines of the App Revolution.
After finishing the book, she went out and bought about $4k of music equipment feeling that music was really missing in her life and she’d jump back into it to find herself. The day the iPad came out, she was one of those crazy people who stood in line all night to get the first one. She started downloading a bunch of apps and putting them together to create music. She put a video up on YouTube of what she created. The video went viral and she had found her career.
Playing over 70 concerts in five countries in seven months. She considers herself the new paradigm of music. Touch input and expressive music through tech. Rana is not only analytical she is creative and she is a businesswoman. She wants to be a roll model for young women. She is the person representing the early adapters of this generation.
As Rana enters the music arena, I believe she will figure out how to do it her way. Always thinking out of the box, always looking for the latest and greatest and always wanting to be original. She is quite amazing…and she also has a big heart.
I’m a fan.