Engineering Q&A: Meet Jelli’s Chief Technical Officer

By: Ryan Miller

Jateen Parekh is the Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder of Jelli. He has more than 20 years of engineering experience and a deep passion for making “things” better. Prior to Jelli, Jateen worked for Amazon where he developed the Kindle product and eventually became the Head of Advanced Technology Platforms.

So how’d he become the CTO and Co-Founder of a tech startup? Read through his interview to learn more about the experiences that led him to Jelli.

When did you know that you wanted to be an engineer?

I first knew I was going to be involved with computers (hardware and software) when I was 9 years old. In 1980, my parents brought home their first personal computer, an Apple II Plus with a green monochrome monitor and built in floppy drive. I spent countless hours playing games, which led to me wanting to design my own interactive applications. I began tinkering in unstructured basic, lifting code from magazines, and learning about graphics, animation, sound, and IO interfaces.

Did you have any internships?

In High School, I spent a summer interning at Raychem, another summer working in the Corp IT department, and then another at NASA. During the NASA internship, I worked with with a physicist (and small team of other high schoolers) who flew on space shuttle missions to develop a platform and process to easily digitize, view, and edit space mission space photos. I also worked part time throughout high school at a computer hardware/software retail store in Silicon Valley, which led me to start my first company, a computer consulting firm which I sold while in college.

What was your first engineering job?

Out of college, my first job was working for a public startup called Global Village Communications, where I engineered and shipped communications products like internal/external analog FAX/modems, laptop FAX/modems, and eventually broadband and wireless products for consumers. The timing could not have been better since the internet and high speed broadband were just starting to take off in mid-90’s.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere. There is no single place I go where I don’t see things in the physical world and ask myself, “is there a better way to do this?”. My friends and family know this well and often give me the “oh no, now what is he going to build…” look.

What applications and tools do you use in your daily life?

I have become reliant on my voice enabled smart speakers, and am pushing to become “screen-less” as much as possible. Creating lists, selecting and listening to music, setting alarms/reminders, ordering Ubers, ordering coffees, managing my schedule, and even getting the latest news is something I believe is far more natural than having to pick up, unlock, and navigate on a mobile device.

At home, I am also having fun experimenting with microservices architecture. There are many ways to architect and implement large scalable platforms, but the idea behind microservices is reminiscent of some early embedded systems I worked on in the past.

How did you and Mike come up with the idea for Jelli?

When we met, Mike and I were both independently considering working on social music solutions. Mike had the novel idea of taking over the broadcast airwaves and connecting the broadcast towers to web platform APIs and I was starting to develop a concept of a portable audio player that would link to your friends and family. The playlists would be real-time, dynamic, and evolving, so your music “stations” would be a reflection of the people in your life with the best music taste. We discussed our ideas and started combining concepts which led to the first incarnation of Jelli’s crowd sourced music platform broadcast on FM.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new engineer, what would it be?

Always be curious and never let anyone tell you something can’t (or shouldn’t) be done. I love seeing young engineers enter the workforce, who love what they do every day, have huge imaginations, and don’t let anyone tell them they can’t build/code it. These are the engineers that will change the way the world interacts with technology.

Interested in working with Jateen? Check out our culture page to see if Jelli is a good fit for you!