BM: Tell us how it all started?
TK: I have an MBA in marketing. I was lucky to get opportunities and I guess it was my interviewer at IAL Saatchi and Saatchi, the advertising giant, who compelled me to walk the ‘path less trodden.’ I was fortunate that good people like Imtisal Abbasi, the COO and Business Head at IAL, took me under their wing. I was completely raw at that time but Mr. Abbasi along with Adnan Khan, the Art Director, gave me opportunities and took the time to provide mentorship. They both took the time to give me a sense of what I was doing and its potential impact. I owe everything to IAL, from dealing with clients to my knowledge about quality content. I was lucky to be given the freedom to pitch ideas, create campaigns and strategic plans, etc.
BM: How did Film Stock and Crew come into being? Did you have the idea that you would shift towards the digital platform?
TK: It was happenstance. I had just left my job and was exploring new ideas with my friend. It was then that we stumbled upon a rare opportunity: one of the biggest companies in Pakistan was making a jingle. They loved our idea and we were in business. That’s how Film Stock & Crew (or FS&C) started – in my room with one laptop. Initially, it was about executing projects but soon, FS&C was taking clients, who kept asking us to ‘do more.’ As we took on clients, FS&C started spreading its roots in an organic manner. We were soon involved in production, thematic campaigns, creative content generation, client management, etc. Digital was the logical next step. We started experimenting with digital and multimedia, creating content for quite a few of our clients and some new ones. The growth was exponential and our ideas were bearing fruit.
BM: What is Grabit? What is the inspiration behind ventures like CityPass?
TK: Grabit is an online portal where we are acting as an agent between buyers and sellers. It is based on the group buying model popularized by Groupon. Customers get deals at discounted rate while businesses get footfall. It’s a win-win for everyone, which makes it uniquely viable. Grabit’s success and viability, as that is of paramount importance, along with the collective experiences of the FS&C team could also be considered one of the inspirations behind CityPass. We realized there was a need for a ‘holistic, city-oriented’ solution for those of the digital generation, always online on their devices. CityPass is the answer – a celebration of your city, things that make it special; the people, brands and businesses that make it unique. It’s also a platform to share experiences.
BM: What kind of challenges did you initially face? How much time did it take for you to earn the trust of your clients?
TK: Entrepreneurship is as rewarding as it is challenging. When I look back at my journey, I have stumbled, lost clients, so there were definitely difficult times and I will continue to face them. But I also believe in continuous improvement, and I celebrate mistakes as new lessons learnt. There are times when you and the client just click, and there are instances when building rapport takes time. But if you have the right attitude and communication process, it doesn’t take long. We try to understand the clients’ needs, and walk in their shoes. Once there is clarity on what is to be communicated, things take a natural course. I try to ensure that there is innovation in every interaction and solution, regardless of size or magnitude.
BM: How do you motivate your team and what style do you adopt in order to keep them together?
TK: When you are working on a startup, it is very important for the person who is running the company to instill a vision and passion into the team. I try to motivate by example and also through empowerment.
Our creative process is very democratic. Everyone shares their ideas and thoughts. It keeps monotony away and we are always getting new perspectives and ideas. It not only improves morale but also output.
BM: What would you like to tell the youth of Pakistan who want to start their ventures?
TK: I think it’s a really exciting time to be young in a country like Pakistan, with its multi-faceted challenges. This gives you the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions and set new benchmarks; to learn and grow exponentially. There is so much happening, particularly in the digital medium.
I would advise them to never shirk from responsibility or even grunt work as such experiences are worth their weight in gold. They should also remember not to be swept away by this culture of ‘instant gratification.’ You need to persevere, to keep trying, to make the world realize your worth. If it happens overnight, it’s fame and not success.
“YOU NEED TO PERSEVERE, TO KEEP TRYING, TO MAKE THE WORLD REALIZE YOUR WORTH. IF IT HAPPENS OVERNIGHT, IT’S FAME AND NOT SUCCESS.”