How Diaa El went from classical musician to technology leader
In this ongoing series, we share tips, tricks, and insights from true entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battles on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what are your business?
My name is Diaa El All, I am co-founder and CEO of Sound. Soundful is an AI-powered music creation platform that helps artists, creators, singers, songwriters and producers analyze, create and monetize music. Our mission is to democratize music creation in the same way that the phone democratized video creation for the masses. It’s not about replacing people as music creators, it’s about providing a tool to help people open doors they couldn’t open before.
What’s your background? What brought you to this business?
I am a musician at heart. I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and started playing the piano at the age of 3. I went to the Royal Academy in London at the age of 13 to get my first certification in classical piano and I graduated in sound engineering and music production in San Francisco. While I was in school, I was able to work with Rockstar Games, and then I embarked on the path of music as an artist, DJ and producer. Eventually, I moved on to the entrepreneur route. I’ve started multiple initiatives, and the latest led to proprietary AI and machine learning technology that my partners and I used to create Soundful.
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Where do you think your entrepreneurial drive comes from?
This is an interesting question. I feel there are two sides to my family. On my father’s side, she has been in his company for 36 years. But my mother’s part is very similar to the entrepreneur’s way. She is always starting new businesses and betting on herself. So I’m very much a team person as well as an individual player. But I really enjoy taking that first step forward: betting on myself where I can control my destiny. It all depends on me. So I can’t blame anyone for failures and I don’t think success depends on anyone else.
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What is your advice for the other founders?
I think my biggest advice is to really take that leap of faith of believing in yourself. It won’t all be perfect, it won’t all work out, but I believe in that cliché that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I see all the failures and the things that didn’t go my way like steps on a ladder. Keep going up, keep going up to reach the goal.
Any particular mistakes or missteps you learned from?
Oh yes! I made the same mistake twice: putting all the eggs in the same basket when raising capital. You know, you meet someone and it sounds great, so you slow down all other conversations and pause other things. But then, for various reasons, things don’t go well with that person and you start over. It is normal for things to fall out when raising capital, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Cannot stress this enough!
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What is the daily life of an entrepreneur like?
I love what I do, so for me I work 24/7. But when you are passionate about what you are doing, you are just doing what you enjoy doing. But that’s not to say it’s not stressful. I have found that the key to dealing with the ups and downs of this life is to have a good daily routine.
When I wake up I start the day listening to 30 minutes of positive frequencies (you can find them on Spotify quite easily). I don’t look at the phone. Then I go to the gym at 5am every morning. I turn off notifications, don’t check my email, and don’t answer calls. It’s just about getting the blood flowing and spending this time focusing on me. After that? All hell breaks loose and it’s time to work!