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.
After having read the entries of The Stories Untold Season 2 on the theme of “A War Within”, the team of Daastan found themselves incredibly moved because of each of the stories. They wanted to help further market these snippets of reality, to bring bits and pieces of it served as hors d’oeuvres to the readers so as to build their appetite for the main course of the meal – the book – that was to follow. The idea was to make the story penned down more relatable, to humanize the words, and build the audience’s relationship with their writers, helping the readers sense the emotions that ran through the authors as the phrases were put to paper.
The resulting movement that ensued, an innovative and ahead of its time podcast series, was named Nashist. Nashist, an Urdu word, literally translates to a ‘gathering’ or a ‘seated assembly’, and that is the exact effect we wanted to produce. We wanted our readers to come together as one and listen with their hearts while one of their own quoted the books, heavily focusing on the sentiments each word entailed. Each week, one of the top five finalists of The Stories Untold from each language was chosen, and a selection made from among its pages that would draw the listener’s breath away. One of our literary fellows of the debut batch would then narrate the appointed lines, over heavenly music produced by Moonlight Studios. The storytelling was done in such a brilliant manner that it shook the listener’s mind, helping them associate with the writer and empowering the writers by helping them communicate in a much more personal manner with their readers.
Daastan’s delegation led by Founder Syed Ommer Amer, and its executive member Nauman Shahid, had the opportunity to present for a micro grant at the PeaceTech Lab, which is locally run by Technology for People Initiative and United States Institute of Peace. The pitch was worked on for days and prepared to perfection, then finally presented at the event of PTX project. The event was a three-day conference which had over 20 organizations present, battling for a grant of 2500 USD funding, to execute a project which would help promote peace across multiple regions of Pakistan. It was a moment of great honor when Daastan was chosen as the winner of the said grant of 2500 USD, to conduct the second season of its story writing competition, “The Stories Untold ”, on the theme “The War Within”.
The PeaceTech Exchange Workshop:
The PeaceTech Exchange is a program by the PeaceTech lab, which helps the local community address frequently posed challenges by equipping their leaders with the ability to carve out solutions for said challenges based on technological tools. The program encourages hands-on activity of technology to tackle a variety of issues including but not limited to women and youth empowerment, education, social inclusion, etc.
The Stories Untold Season Two:
Daastan launched the competition within a few weeks of receiving the grant and the results were announced after a month of strict and diligent judging. The competition turned out to be a great success, and had more than 150 writers who participated and sent in their stories. The winners were shortlisted through three rounds, starting from the top 30 down to the top ones in each language, i.e. Urdu and English. The competition helped the writers in developing characters and plots from which the readers could take home viable lessons, of people that went through strenuous external pressures, and had to face or overcome harsh aftermaths because of it.
Keep an eye out for our updates on Facebook, if you want to participate in the upcoming competition and prove yourself as a writer.