Interview with Rehan Allahwala

Posted December 22, 2010 by Geni | 5 Comments

Today we interview Geni Curator and fellow techie, Rehan Allahwala.

Rehan, your blog states that you started your first venture in Pakistan back in 1987. Tell us a little bit about what got you interested in re-selling Commodore 64 games.

I started by exchanging games and building my library bigger and bigger, so eventually it lead me into selling these games so I could buy more games with the money I earned; I was in Class 7th.

Do you find having that sort of knowledge has helped you today?
It was business, and I was selling stationary before that in my school, or something else. Today I am still in business of filling in some gaps for someone, no matter if it is for money or for without money. It gave me people skills.

You are also an editor and collaborator on Techistan. Tell us about this site and how you got involved.
I started the magazine Techistan last year, the idea came to us in Singapore, while visiting our next door booth of and Suzanne (my company co-founder) loves to read and write and is always writing blogs about our partner companies of DIDX, so I (suggested starting) a full fledge magazine to help our customers grown their companies.

Techistan is about to celebrate the site’s first anniversary. How has it been collaborating on this site and and where do you guys see yourself in the next 12 months?

I think that Suzanne would be the right person to answer that (as she runs it), but I think we are adding awards into our magazine, and also more videos; we may end up doing a weekly or even a daily 5 min tech show on the tech news, like tech tv.

We noticed that you have a Techistan page where you have tagged videos related to Geni. Tell us about the response you have received from your video tutorials.

I started using for initially getting our family directory inserted, and I had to tell a lot of people what it was, so when I was doing a TV show, I presented on it; the tutorial you see on comes from that TV show.

Later people asked me how to do this and that so we added that content also.

Do you plan on making any more Geni tutorials?

If someone asks me more questions, I would make more videos.  🙂

What brought you to Geni- was it the love for new sites or the idea of collaborative genealogy (or perhaps both)?

Well, I was working on a similar project , and wanted to create something like in 2006 and had  assigned a programmer to it, thus was born. Eight  months down the road, the programmer sent me the link to your web site (it was as if someone copied my brain and made Geni), so I used it a little, then a cousin of mine who had the first family tree added the data of family and it started spreading.  So, I then abandoned the project as there was no need to re-do it – when you are doing a great job on it already.

You have been a power user on Geni pretty much since you signed up about 3 years ago. What are some of the changes you have appreciated on the site?

I love the function of finding the people in the tree a lot, and would like a faster web site and ways to merge more trees quickly.

Where would you like to see the site go (in terms of overall UI enhancements)?

I would like that when a node on the tree has been)deleted, that you are not brought back to the tree. I would also like to see that when I have entered the data for someone, that I was able to at least find them and see them (right away) , or be able to add a category, etc. I also would like to be able to add data of other people, like it used to be (I miss that).  It has made my life more difficult, when it comes to the adding of our family directory to the tree.

We see that you are currently collaborating/following 6 Geni Projects. They are: Bollywood, India puranic/ vedic tree including modern royal dynasties, JPSD, Mohammad PBUH, The Gandhi Project and US Presidents and Vice Presidents. What can you tell us about those projects? Also, which one is your favorite one and why?

It started as my family tree the project JPSD or Jamiat Punjabi Dehli Saudagraan , and later I found the tree of Prophet Mohammad, so I wanted to show all different sects of Islam how they are well connected via connecting their trees. So, the Prophet Mohammad project is most interesting to me, but I  would like to get more tools to maintain it properly, and more power on the tree (i.e. force merging of profiles which have not been touched for over 2 years now).

Thank You for this opportunity.