Kiwi tech virtuoso behind new Silicon Valley start-up

The nature of San Francisco being a melting pot for the intellectuals of the world and curious minds, we find more and more that we are coming across amazing Kiwi’s who are doing awesome things.

Kiwi’s are well known for doing their own thing, flying under the radar and just getting on with it, have a read of this story of one that we stumbled across recently.

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From Auckland, to Stanford University, to Shazam, the next challenge for a kiwi engineer is launching her start-up venture in Silicon Valley.

New Zealander Priyanka Shekar is a Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Californian based Grüv Music, which aims to open the doors of music-making to everyone, regardless of ability or training.

“We want to enable anyone to be able to pick up their smartphone and make music, and believe that musical creativity is innate,” Priyanka says. We do this through computer-assisted learning and intuitive user experience. A user’s smartphone becomes their music guide which offers smart correction and suggestions to their playing, as well as their musical instrument, which doesn’t play like a piano or violin, but instead taps into familiar behaviours like texting and playing mobile games.

Grüv Music was recently accepted into the StartX business accelerator, a launching pad for Stanford University’s top entrepreneurs. 

The venture was recently unveiled to Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneur community at the StartX VIP Night on September 10th at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus.

Priyanka has a unique and virtuosic passion for blending engineering with music, and serves as the domain expert at Grüv Music.

“I’ve always been fascinated by interactive music experiences like Sony’s SingStar karaoke game and Smule’s Magic Piano app, where the barriers to entry to making music are lowered by technology designed for easy mastery and participation,” she says.

This interest led her to Stanford University to specialize in a Master’s in Music, Science and Technology (2014). She attended on the prestigious Denning Family Fellowship in Fine Arts, only 3 of which are awarded each year to graduates showing creative excellence and expertise in an interdisciplinary field.

Doors soon opened to working alongside Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, such as Dr. Ge Wang, who co-founded Smule, the leader in music creation for the mass market, and a an internship at Shazam Entertainment in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Along the way, Priyanka worked as an engineering and product consulting at Set Based Solutions and Aurecon in Auckland and Hong Kong, and has interned at Navman Technology, Beca and Eastland Network in New Zealand.

Priyanka says women engineers are a rare sight in the tech scene, and she is hoping she can influence other young women to enter the industry.

“I actively support change and am involved in a number of initiatives which support women in a male dominated industry, through women leadership programmes at Stanford, by mentoring others, and participating in events like Y Combinator’s Female Founder Conference.”

Priyanka maintains a network with enterprising Kiwis living in the San Francisco Bay Area via her involvement in the US Friends of the University of Auckland alumni committee.

“I’m passionate about helping Kiwis who are moving to Silicon Valley, there’s an amazing expat community with inspiring role models and folks who are plugged into the surrounding tech and business scene.” 

See further details about Priyanka at linkedin.com/in/priyankashekar

 

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