Miral Kotb is a Columbia University graduate who holds a degree in Computer Science. She started her career as a software developer at Bloomberg where she discovered her passion for writing software and developing apps. She was simultaneously pursing her dream to dance professionally in New York where her talents were being recognized.
Tragically, Miral was diagnosed with cancer at the ages of 21 and was forced to quit dancing at the height of her dance career. Determined to turn tragedy into triumph, Miral founded iLuminate in 2009, a company based on the technology she created–where performers dance in the dark wearing costumes that illuminate wirelessly to complement the music and choreography.
Miral’s innovative technology has been used by some of music’s brightest stars. From the Black Eyed Peas to Chris Brown to Miral’s very own dance troupe (who appeared and came in at 2nd place on America’s Got Talent–not bad!), they’ve all used the technology to light up the stage.
MyCity4Her got a chance to chat with Miral about her business and she reveals the best business advice she’s received, what she underestimated about her business and more. Read on for the full interview.
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
No, I honestly did not. I always knew I wanted to do something great in the world of dance, as that has been my biggest passion since I was young, but I never quite knew what that would be.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business, and why?
I underestimated how much work would be involved outside of the art and engineering aspects of iLuminate. Running a business is not easy and it is so important to have the right people in place to keep it moving so that I can continue to do what I do best and push the technology and creativity further along.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
Know how to delegate and find out your strengths and weaknesses early on so you can hire people to fill in the voids.
What do you love most about what you do and why?
I absolutely love the creative process! I love thinking about a new idea for a dance, a show or an event, then working with my team to bring it to life. From sketching and making the costumes, to choreographing the dance, then the final set, lighting it up!!! What I miss the most is actually writing software!
What if you knew then what you know now – would you do anything differently, and why?
No. I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason and that you should always learn from your experiences, rather than looking back and wondering what you could have done differently. In the end, if you have faith, stay focused and always learn from the hardest moments, your dreams will come true.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to cook when I’m home, as my parents own a restaurant where my Mom is the chef and I get this inspiration from her. I rarely get a chance to watch TV, but I like to check out Netflix and Hulu to keep caught up. I also enjoy yoga and going out to a nice meal or going out dancing.
How do you define success?
Happiness and a sense of fulfillment and that you are reaching your personal goals.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business, what would it be?
Always follow your heart and stay true to yourself and others and things will fall into place.