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The Most Influential Women in Technology 2011 - Prerna Gupta


Most young college grads don't mind putting in long hours to work on someone else's product. Consultant-turned-blogger and musician Prerna Gupta, however, is far too independent for that.

Gupta began her career in management consulting, ostensibly to learn how to run a successful business. But after six months at Monitor Group, she found she was learning little more than "how to be a better consultant." After an impulsive six-week stint in venture capital, she finally heeded her muses and jumped headlong into entrepreneurship, launching Yaari, a youth-oriented social network in India.

After growing Yaari to more than 2 million users, Prerna set her sights on another rapidly growing industry—smartphone applications. It was here that she leveraged her musical talents, working with husband Parag Chordia to launch an iPhone music app called LaDiDa. Gupta, who says her favorite instrument is her voice, describes it as "reverse karaoke."

It works like this: the user makes a recording of themselves singing, which the program then analyzes to generate background music in a variety of styles (ranging from "Rhythm Synth Pop" to "Dirty South Rap"). Sounds like a party trick, but it's way more than that: for budding vocalists, LaDiDa means that being a musician is no longer a prerequisite to songwriting. Even the tone deaf need not be shy—it even features professional tools like pitch correction to keep you in key. Of course, once you're done recording, you can share your songs on Twitter and Facebook.

Gupta's still putting in long hours, but now it's to promote her own creations, which are ultimately designed to help others with theirs. (Maybe that's why LaDiDa is one of the top 20 paid apps in the iTunes App Store.) Next up for Gupta is an app called U2B Idol, currently in alpha, a Web platform for creating your own music videos.