'Don't Be Afraid to Bet on Yourself': This Entrepreneur Went from Classical Musician to a Tech Leader
Diaa El All, co-founder and CEO of Soundful, talks to Entrepreneur about creating a business with passion.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips, and insights from real 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's your business?
My name is Diaa El All, I am co-founder and CEO of Soundful. Soundful is an AI music creation platform that helps artists, creators, singers, songwriters, and producers analyze, create, and monetize music. We are on a mission to democratize music creation the same way that the phone has democratized video creation to the masses. This isn't about replacing people as music creators — it's about giving a tool to help people open doors that they couldn't open before.
What's your background? What led you to this business?
I'm a musician at heart. I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and started playing piano when I was 3 years old. I went to the Royal Academy of London at the age of 13 to get my first certification in classical piano and got my degree in sound engineering and music production in San Francisco. While I was at school, I was able to work with Rockstar Games, and then went the music route as an artist, DJ, and producer. Eventually, I transitioned to the entrepreneur route. I started multiple ventures, and the last one resulted in proprietary AI and machine learning tech that my partners and I used to create Soundful.Related: The Formula for Success This Entrepreneur Used to Build a 50-Year-Old Brand
Where do you think your entrepreneurial drive comes from?
That's an interesting question. I feel like there are two sides to my family. On my father's side, he's been with his company for 36 years. But my mother's side is very much like the entrepreneur route. She's 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 love taking that first step forward — betting on myself where I can control my destiny. Everything's on me. So I can't blame anybody for failures, and I don't feel like success was dependent on someone else.Related: You Don't Have to Be a Business Owner to Think Like an Entrepreneur
What is your advice for other founders?
I think my biggest advice is to just really take that leap of faith of believing in yourself. It's not all going to be perfect, it isn't all going to work out, but I believe in that cliche that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I view all of the failures and things that didn't go my way as steps in a staircase. Keep stepping up, keep climbing to get to the goal.
Any particular mistakes or missteps you've learned from?
Oh yes! I have made the same mistake twice: putting all your eggs in one basket when raising capital. You know, you meet someone and it seems great so you slow down all of your other conversations and put other things on pause. But then for various reasons, things don't pan out with that one person and you're starting all over again. It is normal for things to drop out when raising capital, so don't put all your eggs in one basket. I can not stress that enough!Related: Entrepreneurs Need to Embrace Adversity and Challenge, Says the CEO of Mecum Auctions
What's the daily life of an entrepreneur like?
I absolutely love what I do, so for me, I work 24/7. But when you're passionate about what you're doing, you're just doing what you enjoy doing. But that's not to say it isn't stressful. I've found that the key to dealing with the ups and downs of this life is having a good daily routine.
When I wake up, I start the day by listening to 30 minutes of positive frequencies (you can find them on Spotify pretty easily.) I don' look at my phone. Then I go to the gym at 5 AM every morning. I turn off my notifications, don't check my email, and don't take calls. It's just about getting the blood flowing and spending this time concentrating on me. Then after that? All hell breaks loose and it is time to work!
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