Two successful IU alumni among those in Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ lists in tech and music

Tarun Gangwani

Tarun Gangwani

With more than 600,000 alumni, it’s understandably difficult to come up with a fairly short list of successful Indiana University graduates.

Many publications and news organizations are fond of such “best of” lists, where, once again, IU alumni are making their mark.

Two IU alumni were included among Forbes’ new “30 Under 30” lists in enterprise technology and music: cloud computing innovator Tarun Gangwani and music business executive Jake Udell, respectively.

A “proud IU alumnus,” Gangwani earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and a master’s degree in human-computer interaction design from the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington.

While at IU, Gangwani spent a lot of time at University Information Technology Services as a technical team lead and as a researcher in IU’s language and memory labs.

Udell graduated in 2011 with a degree in entrepreneurship from the IU Kelley School of Business. He got involved with music as a student and briefly pursued his own career as a performer before getting involved in management and promotion.

After graduation, he worked for a year as the chief marketing officer for Campus Candy before founding the music label Th3rd Brain.

As part of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” Gangwani and Udell find themselves among interesting company.

A big part of IBM’s Bluemix

Others with Gangwani in the enterprise technology category include the founders of innovative tech companies such as Bench, Dragos Security, Enplug and Doctolib.

Since receiving his master’s degree in 2013, Gangwani’s been involved with cloud computing at IBM, leading its business strategy, design execution and product quality activities.

As offering manager, he leads multi-disciplinary product development teams within IBM’s $9 billion cloud business and was a pioneer in designing IBM’s cloud developer platform, Bluemix, which the company launched via a $1 billion investment.

Bluemix has since become the largest open-source deployment in the world. He joined IBM in 2013 as part of the company’s first wave of designers, which is now 1,000-strong. His work has been recognized in numerous outlets, including The New York Times.

Colin Allen, former director of undergraduate studies at IU Bloomington’s Cognitive Science Program, met Gangwani and his family in 2007 while the fledgling tech leader considered transferring to IU from another university.

“Tarun and his parents were a bit nervous about him studying something as eclectic as cognitive science, but he was determined, and it certainly seems to have paid off,” said Allen, today an IU Provost Professor of cognitive science and history and philosophy of science.

Allen added that Tarun himself credits his IU education for “giving him an advantage at IBM by providing a broader vision about what is desirable and possible from technology.”

Using what he learned at Kelley to “Play Hard”

Others with Udell in the music category of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 include Jon Batiste, bandleader for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”; Leon Bridges, an old-school soul singer whose debut album “Coming Home” generated a lot of buzz; pop star Selena Gomez; DJ Snake; and Krewella, a duo Th3rd Brain manages.

Jake Udell

Jake Udell

In early 2012, Udell co-founded Th3rd Brain, which he says is “dedicated to collaborating with artists to define their vision and develop a strategy to market it.”

His most successful clients are sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf, who today make up the duo Krewella, whose 2012 EP “Play Hard” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Radio Airplay chart.

Last summer, they performed with Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and Fergie on “Love Song to the Earth,” an all-star collaboration to raise awareness about global warming.

Udell’s firm also manages other popular electronic dance music acts Zhu, Gallant and the Danish/Norwegian duo Pegboard Nerds. Since graduation, he’s been back on campus for Recess, a music and arts festival for college students just a few years removed from his days at Kelley, who are budding entrepreneurs participate in a pitching contest similar to “Shark Tank.”

“Our goal is to not be everyone else. Our goal is to be different. Our goal is to build our own lane and every artist deserves that customization,” Udell said at last year’s International Music Summit’s “Engage” conference in Los Angeles, where he was joined by music industry leaders Chuck D. of Public Enemy, Seth Troxler and Quincy Jones.

Tatiana Kolovou, a faculty member at the Kelley School, jokes that she was Udell’s first professor. He had her 8 a.m. business presentation class as a freshman in the fall of 2007. She became one of his mentors and they’ve remained in contact.

She noted that Udell is skilled at networking and that at age 26 he has contacts in the music industry that rival those twice his age.

“He’s had his own lane since he was a freshman in my class,” said Kolovou, a senior lecturer at Kelley. “There’s something special about him. He’s very creative, moves fast and he thinks out of the box. He’s also very intuitive, which is a huge asset in his industry.

“I have always said that he’s our next Mark Cuban.”

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