From IDF to CEO: Asaf Meir ’14 reflects on his path
At Brandeis, Meir combined his passion for music, technology and business
When Asaf Meir ’14 arrived at Brandeis, the 24-year-old freshman was already a decorated soldier, a world traveler and an experienced manager. Here at Brandeis, he added to his resume, becoming a community advisor, an officer with Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (BView), a teaching assistant and a web developer. Last fall, he added one more title to his list: CEO.
Meir, a double major in computer science and economics, founded his own start-up in 2013 called intuMusic. The company, staffed mostly by Brandeis students, develops a platform that will allow users to create and control music using body gestures.
After graduation, Meir will join the start-up community in Boston but plans to continue intuMusic, which is a product of his diverse accomplishments and interests.
intuMusic is all about furthering the relationship between music and movement. Are you musical?
Yes, I’ve always loved music. In Israel, I played the drums in a Beatles cover band I co-founded, which at its peak had shows with crowds of more than 1,200 people.
How did you become interested in technology?
I served three mandatory years in an elite combat unit within the Israeli Defense Force. The unit’s name is "Oketz" or sting in English. Towards the end of my service, I had an opportunity to contribute to the unit's research and development department. There I was able to use my field expertise to develop a product that helps fighters. Because of my experience in the unit, I knew what the soldiers needed and could communicate between the soldiers in the field and the guys in the labs. It was my first taste of being a product manager.
Why did you choose to come to Brandeis?
I was always interested in accomplishing goals outside the "regular" path. After my army service, I volunteered twice with the Jewish Agency in the U.S., and traveled through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Those experiences made me realize how much I appreciate that international experience and I started looking into American colleges. At that same time, I was working for an Israeli startup and also realized I wanted to study computer science. After a bit of research, I found Brandeis and its unique mission statement, values and morals. After serving in harsh circumstances and seeing the many different troubling issues facing Israelis and Palestinians — and people around the world — I knew that going to a school such as Brandeis would help me develop the kind of analytical, social justice framework I was thirsty for.
How did intuMusic come to be?
I came up with the idea with co-founder Gil Zamir. At the time, I worked at Microsoft and was exposed to the Kinect motion sensor capabilities. Originally, I just wanted to leverage the amazing, talented students I met at Brandeis with a project and, it turned out, that everyone really liked the idea of intuMusic, so we began developing it. It has so many possible uses — I can see it being used in therapy sessions and in dance halls. Can you imagine what a DJ could do if he or she could create music using the motion of the crowd?
As you enter the work force after graduation, what do you take with you from your time at Brandeis?
I’ve learned a lot about being a team leader and instilling confidence in my team. As a CEO, it’s up to me to make sure that people are fired up and enthusiastic about the product. Specifically, I was able to learn how to lead a team compromised of many nationalities. I’ve seen first hand the value of diversity at Brandeis. intuMusic has Israelis, a Romanian and Americans and those cultural differences make the team better and stronger. That’s something that Brandeis has provided, a platform for diversity.