Come the summer of 2018, having just successfully conducted a ground breaking season of The Stories Untold, Daastan teamed up with a few others who were also in the race to bring quality literature to their readers. Since its inception, Daastan and Qissa have scaled, and eventually launched a writing competition which was dubbed “Literati”. The team was once again taking not only Pakistan by storm, but also slowly but surely taking over the world too. And so, to bring another round of thought-provoking stories that made one bite their nails with the anticipation of what was coming next, we opened the award for participants from all over South Asia.
Literati Micro Fiction:
Literati was brought to the public in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, a company that provided the services of self-publishing much the same way as us and encouraged quality literature to find its way to the surface, but across the border in India. Another collaborator of the micro story writing competition was Outcast, a queer lit magazine which was founded by a graduated Literary Fellow of Daastan. The authors of the micro fiction award were given a time period of one month, in which they were to write short stories with no more than 2500 words on the themes of “The Fifth Rivulet” and “Mosaiced Souls”. The themes themselves were enough to get any true storyteller thinking and dreaming in their world of imagination, spinning and weaving tales which would eventually find their way to our screens.
The award was closed a month after its launch, and all the partners were delighted to received more than a hundred submissions of gripping and awe-inspiring literature. The submissions were all carefully reviewed, and the top 20 were selected. These finalists would receive the exciting prize of seeing their work go into print, along with exclusive opportunities to further their career as a writer.
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In the May of 2018, Preston University Islamabad organized its 6th successive national Inter University business plan competition called “Preston Entrepreneurial Challenge”. They opened gates to almost a hundred students from all across Pakistan to bring their innovative idea to the forefront. The teams that applied for the prestigious award included private university students, as well as public universities, to ensure fair chance to exhibit their product or idea. Out of 237 entries, only 31 were selected for the grand finale. Selected teams were invited to the university. The event had various challenges so that one clear winner could rise to the top. Daastan stood singular among all, and was awarded Preston University’s first ever Startup Cup.
Daastan Stands Tall
The purpose of this event was to provide a platform to the rising entrepreneurs of our country. It was a great opportuniy for participants to exhibit their ideas to the most expert minds in the domain so they could provide technical guidance to them. Daastan pitched Qissa to the jury members from both private sectors such as SA Consulting Private Limited and government sector, like Ignite. The contest was sponsored by more than ten different brands and businesses. The chief guest of the competition wasPresident Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Amir Waheed, and the event was organized under the distinguished leadership of Mr. Shuja Humayun, the Director Entrepreneurship at Preston University.
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After diving headfirst into the Olympiad culture and sponsoring numerous talent hunting competitions in the span of just a few months, Daastan started attracting the attention of the big names in the community and getting invited not just to help groom the talent, but also share our experience and inspire those who might want to walk down the same path. And so, with this, we zeroed in on providing sponsorship, technical and media related support, and marketing to the literature exclusive festivals and happenings across Pakistan. The team would then help those interested find their way to their first self-published works through Qissa, empowering them to monetize their hobby and – if they chose so – to make a career out of it.
A Seminar on Feminism:
The first of such events was a seminar titled “Feminism in Language, Literature and Marketplace”, organized on Women’s Day, where Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, was invited as a guest speaker. Ommer shared the success stories of Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz – the youngest published author of Peshawar, Ms. Lareb Soomro – the youngest published author or Sindh and Ms. Faiza Kayani a police commando who defied all odds to chase her dream and published her first book through Qissa. He also spoke about how Daastan was enabling women voice their opinions through their stories, and also gain financial independence by training them to generate revenue from their writings and connecting them to resources which can help them do so.
NUST and LUMS Literary Fests:
Just a couple weeks after that, we sponsored not only the National Literary Festival by NUST in Islamabad, but also one of the biggest campus based literary festivals in all of Pakistan, i.e. the LUMS Literary Festival 2018. Through Daastan, the literary festivals received judges to adjudicate all their competitions, discounts on all books published on Qissa, the chance to talk to our team and learn more about utilizing digital tools to help them carve their out their niche in the industry. Not only this, the winners of the LUMS Literary Festival received wild card entries to the finalists of the on-going season of ‘The Stories Untold’, through which the authors would all go into print for free through Daastan.
If you want us to sponsor you event, or provide support, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daastan may have started small, but in no way was it destined to remain that way as the years rolled by. When the team started out, one of their primary missions was to help train raw talent from across the whole country and maybe even beyond, and enable them in setting up their literary ventures through the Qissa portal – or help them polish their skills to perfection, making them industry-fit and ready for hiring. We at Daastan, have always felt it as one of our responsibilities to reach out and give opportunities to anyone who has even a smidge of talent, along with a ton of passion.
Sponsoring the EME Olympiad:
It was to uphold this very ideal that Daastan jumped forward at the mention of giving support to the first competition which reached out to them i.e. the EME Olympiad. A delegation from team Daastan consisting of Ms. Sidra Amin, Co-Founder, and Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, Editor-In-Chief were invited to judge the Speed Writing as well as the Poetry Slam competition. The two exceptionally talented ladies were honored to have been given the opportunity to witness such exceptional work by some of the participants. The delegation also consisted of Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, a Literary Fellow graduate and a part of Urdu Editorial Board at Daastan, who was there to judge and score the participants enrolled in Urdu based literary competitions. Daastan provided a sponsorship of almost 50,000 PKR to EME Olympiad, along with social media support.
PIEAS National Olympiad x Daastan:
A month later, we had the opportunity to collaborate with and provide funding to the PIEAS National Olympiad. One of the biggest Olympiads being held in the twin cities, with participation from more than 30 Universities from all over Pakistan. The team of Daastan saw more than 800 participants competiting each other and showcasing their skills. Their literary modules were judged by a delegation of Daastan, consisting of Ms. Areesh Fatmee, Director PR Daastan, Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, Urdu Editor Daastan, and Ms. Aaina Batool, published author at Qissa. Daastan also offered print publishing to the winners, along with marketing on social media to provide additional support to the event.
The IST Youth Carnival:
In the same week as the PIEAS National Olympiad, Daastan also collaborated with the IST Youth Carnival. Our published author Ms. Iqra Saeed set up a stall there and spread awareness on the literary industry and self-publishing scenario in Pakistan, and Daastan also provided judges to adjudicate the short story competition.
If you are organizing an Olympiad or Carnival at your University and require sponsorship, drop us an email at email@example.com.
In between the flurry of activity that was 2017 for the team of Daastan, the Founder Syed Ommer Amer must have found a momentary lull in activity, and that was enough for him to set Daastan on a course previously uncharted on but one it had full potential to tread. This road taken was the application to pitch in Pakistan’s first ever business reality show, in front of a panel of most distinguished, recognized, and successful businessmen of our industry, for an amount of 1 crore (10 Million) Rupees.
For most just the introduction of the TV show, with its intimidating numbers and seemingly very hard to impress investors, would be enough to faze them and make them reconsider trying their luck. For our team, it was that very thing which lit the fire that was to guide us through all that was to come. And so, after successfully clearing the ‘audition’ for the final pitch, team Daastan made its way to Lahore for the final showdown. The delegation that was to pitch on TV consisted of Waneeza Zaheer – a senior designer at Daastan passionate about literature and fully dedicated to helping Daastan scale newer and higher heights – and Syed Ommer Amer, the founder of the company, who requires no introduction except one: he is a force to be reckoned with, especially where his dreams and the future of literary industry are concerned.
The Pitch that Lead to the Win:
The wait for the final presentation lasted all day, with the pitch itself lasting more than half an hour. The team received commendation and applause from most of the investors present, which included Salim Ghauri, CEO Netsol, who especially praised Ommer’s speaking abilities, and Rabeel Warraich who mentioned how the team’s ready responses to all the questions posed were a pleasant surprise. Three out of four businessmen present did not step up to invest, however their space was filled in by Mr. Naeem Zamindar, CEO Acumen Pakistan and Chairman, Pakistan Board of Investment, when he offered 25,000 USD in return for 20% equity, and an unlimited amount of support to help breakthrough any ceiling Daastan might encounter. The team was able to negotiate it down to 15%, and the deal was celebrated.
Having scaled the platform of Qissa to a considerable level, and upgraded it significantly to amp up its technology, Daastan started turning heads in the big communities. Within 3 months of the launch of Qissa, Daastan surpassed 10,000 likes on Facebook, its message reaching the nooks and crannies of Pakistan. With our team members being invited to high level events as speakers, and media coverage that had us tuning to one or another channel on a frequent basis to catch news related to us, it was high time that Daastan and Qissa Self-Publishing received recognition at esteemed platforms.
Connected Pakistan Conference:
The first such acknowledgement came as a nomination for the Best StartUp Award, being held at the Connected Pakistan Conference. The individuals who nominated us for the award remained unspecified, and even our Founder Mr. Syed Ommer Amer was left surprised when he received their invitation for the occasion which was to be held in Comsats, Abbottabad. This was the second time this conference of tech enthusiasts was being held, where dignitaries from various communities were invited and spoke to the crowd present. The highlight of the event was Daastan winning the Best Startup Award in the conference, which the company shared with very few notable startups present within the crowd. The conference was attended by a delegation from Daastan, consisting of Mr. Syed Ommer Amer, Founder and Mr. Nauman Shahid, MD.
SATHA Innovation Award:
The second award came from an even more prestigious source. An international firm by the name of South Asian Triple Helix Foundationawarded Daastan a SATHA Innovation Award to applaud the effort that the team had made to help Daastan spread its wings, and the positive impact it had created on the lives of all those associated with the company. Along with being a symbol of hope and home to innovation, Daastan was serving as fuel for the dying embers of the literary industry. The award was received by Syed Ommer Ammer, who was accompanied by Ms. Spugmai Alee Khattak, serving as Literary Critic in Daastan.