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Event Innovators 2016: Rana June

The C.E.O. and founder of Lightwave uses data to understand and improve experiences such as concerts and sporting events.

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Photo: Taylor McIntyre/BizBash

There’s a saying that entrepreneurs are born, not made, and Lightwave C.E.O. Rana June certainly fits that description. “I started my first company when I was 16, and I had started three [companies] by the time I was 18,” says June, now 29. “I’ve always loved the idea of the alchemy related to having an idea and building a structure around it.”

June’s passions are music and emerging technology, so her early ventures included a record label, an artist management company, and a digital marketing agency for musicians. A few years later, barely into her 20s, she co-founded mobile analytics firm Medialets, which produced a product she describes as “the Google Analytics for apps.” In 2010, the release of the iPad spurred her next big idea: using the tablet to mix music. Her concept took off, sending her around the world for the next two years performing more than 200 concerts as what Gizmodo dubbed “the iPad DJ.”

That experience as a performer trying to gauge her crowd sparked the idea for her most recent—and most successful—concept: Lightwave, which captures biometric data such as movement, audio levels, and temperature from eventgoers to understand and improve experiences such as concerts, sporting events, and more. Pepsi debuted the technology at a concert it hosted at South by Southwest in 2014.

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Since then, June has worked with dozens of other brands, including Jaguar, which analyzed the mood at Wimbledon using a mix of stationary sensors and biometric wristbands, and 20th Century Fox, which used Lightwave’s systems to measure audience reaction at a screening of The Revenant last fall. Most recently, Lightwave partnered with Degree deodorant to assess fans’ physical and emotional responses at the N.C.A.A. Final Four, using sensors throughout N.R.G. Stadium in Houston and wearable devices on select fans.

Lightwave is now starting to work with companies that host large conferences and trade shows that want to use biometric data to better understand how attendees spend their time, what parts of the program create an emotional response, and other factors. June predicts that soon biometric data will enable customization in a variety of arenas of everyday life.

“[We will] have a world of personalization, where the world is bending toward you based on your emotional preferences,” June says. “So rather than eight demographic buckets there are seven billion demographic buckets, because we may be similar but we are all unique. That’s a very exciting future. And I think it impacts not only entertainment, not only sports, not only conferences, but just the way we interact with technology in general.”

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