In 2017, Lahore saw a significant increase in the number of events held to bridge the undeniable entertainment gap that exists in our society; the events included book-signings, stand-up comedy, poetry slams, art exhibitions and much more.
2018 is proving to be no different. We’re only into the second month of the year and the event invites seem to be pouring in. Such events create a safe space for creative individuals to share their stories and creativity; they provide a much needed platform to individuals so they can explore their potential and horizons. Pakistan is a country brimming with talented individuals, unfortunately due to either monetary constraints or societal limitations, many remain undiscovered. Providing a platform to people who are willing to step out of the box and change the narrative is of paramount importance.
One event that aimed to do this was “Failure Nights-Celebrating Failure” held at Masoom’s Pancake Lounge on the 13th of February 2018.
The event was presented by the tech giant Abacus Consulting, Fun and rearts and curated by ProperGaanda.
Once the event had started the Failure Nights host, Sibel Ahmed Shahzad Mufti (CEO at BelBots) called upon Abbas Khan (MD Abacus Consulting) to kick the evening off. Khan talked about the importance of encouraging young individuals who wanted to start their own business and were bringing something new to the market.
Khan opened the night on a positive note: “The start-ups of today are going to be the successful companies of tomorrow.”
Usama Tauqeer: Your Co-founders should not be your friends
Usama Tauter (Founder and CEO of Aloo Clan) shed light on his own journey, as an entrepreneur, and the subsequent lessons he learnt from it. He discussed the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pakistan and how it is still not fully developed; an example of this is the fact that most decisions are socially rather than professionally driven. He emphasised that the team itself is essential to the success of the company. Talking about his own experience, Tauqeer stated that since the initial co-founders were his friends, when they left the company he didn’t only loose the co-founders he lost a few of his best friends as well.
Saad Hamid: The pursuit of what works
Saad Hamid’s (CEO at DEMO) talk was invigorating and on a lighter note. He said, “Our failure and our success should be based on our own metrics.” Hamid regaled the audience with stories from when he was at university, saying that he had earned 1 crore before he turned 18, worrying his parents about what he was up to. Hamid shared his own thoughts on failure, saying that he saw it as an opportunity to connect with people.
Hamid ended his talk on this poignant words, “I don’t believe in failure, I believe in the journey.”
Hirra Babar: From SMAG TO WARP-Knowing your market
The next speaker, Hirra Babar talked about one of the hardest things an individual may have to do: picking yourself up after a failure and moving on. For Babar, this meant giving up the initial idea for her company which was to design a smart hand-bag for women. After their first pop exhibition which was attended by fifteen hundred people didn’t result in a single sale, Babar had to make the difficult situation and shelf the product. Instead of abandoning the entire project as she was initially about to do, Babar readjusted her plan and decided to come up with a contingency plan-going from a tech and fashion brand to one that focused on fashion alone. Since then, Babar’s products have been showcased in Qatar and at Paris Fashion Week.
“It’s only after you get into the thick of things that you realise what your strengths are”
Fatin Gondal: The curious state of e-commerce startups
Fatin Gondal (Co-founder and CEO at webworks.pk) talked about being a start-up in the e-commerce industry of Pakistan and going up against the already established names and the challenges encountered in the process. Gondal shared with the audience how her company single-mindedly pursued a big client and essentially put all their eggs in one basket and it’s resulting fall-out. “When you loose everything, that’s the push you need to go do something bigger and better,” states Gondal. Following their initial hiccup, webworks picked itself up and broke a world record and is now starting its journey into the international market.
Jannat Ali: The failure of our society
Jannat Ali, the well-known transgender activist, performing artist and NGO professional working at the Khawaja Sira Society was the last speaker of the night. Instead of talking about an individual or company’s failure, Jannat talked about the failure of our society. She shared stories from her childhood, discussing the social challenges she had to face while in school and family acceptance. She brought up a very simple example so the audience would know how normal everyday incidents can be a challenge for the transgender community of Pakistan: “While one of my friends was transitioning she had to go to a government office and stand in a line. Now there were two lines, one for women and one for men. She went and stood in the women’s line, and the other women started raising hue and cry. She then went and stood in the men’s line, and that made her want to cry!”. Jannat told the audience that she often said to herself that these are not your failures, these are society’s failures. She is the first transgender to present a bill in Pakistan, to be a part of the world economic forum and to speak at Tedx.
“If I didn’t have my failures, my journey and I would not have been so strong”
Following the talks, Mufti opened the floor for the audience to share their own experiences.
The audience then had a chance to network amongst themselves and with the speakers who openly welcomed questions. While the people enjoyed scrumptious food from Masoom’s, the front area was cleared for musical performances.
Solar Canvas, the first band to perform, set the mood for the evening as the crowd relaxed and enjoyed the performance. The live performance with strong vocals had the crowd singing along in no time.
Next up, DJ Tashfeen Ahmed dropped some seriously sick beats, combining the best of the eastern and western acoustic worlds. Ahmed officially got the party started.
Last but not least was a performance by BSquare. The band played beautiful instrumental renditions of popular songs and took requests from the audience.
We spoke to Immemah Shahzad (Data Scientist, IBM) about her experience at the event. Shahzad said, “I loved it a lot. Loved the speeches by everyone, it was something different from the usual Lahore events when it comes to networking. The performances were great, would love to listen to such music and chill.”
The music, food and networking continued, providing a much needed space for like minded people to come together and enjoy. The event was just the start of many to come in the future.
A few words from Najam Ul Assar, the organiser and CEO rearts-
“Most of us define our life stories by the successes we have achieved and hide our failures. The reality is that we learn the most and grow through our failures and by reflecting upon them. Failure Nights is a safe space for people to learn, unlearn and laugh at their mistakes.”
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