Each day, millions of people aspire to pursue their passion projects but not everyone has the heart to take the plunge. Many abandon their dreams or brush them under the carpet because of different priorities. But there are few crazy ones who relentlessly go after their ideas no matter what. Today we met an extraordinary mum-preneur who is breaking barriers in the educational-entertainment industry of Pakistan. Hareem Shairani is the COO at Hahaha Studio. She’s previously been associated with BUTIEMS as the Head of Department – Printmaking. She’s also been selected for a prestigious art exchange program in Paris and has successfully exhibited her work across the globe. She currently teaches A-Level students art and design in Karachi. Hamza and Hira, the other two co-founders, bring together a diverse and rich experience from working in renowned multinationals to leading architect firms. It’s safe to call them a ‘triple H threat’ as the self driven trio are on a mission to make children experience joy.
1. Tell me about yourself.
I was born and raised in Quetta, went to Beaconhouse there and got into the National College of Arts, Lahore. We three co-founders of Hahaha Studio all went to college together, which is where we met and became friends.
2. What does your startup do?
Hahaha Studio Pvt.Ltd is a (for-profit) local edutainment platform for children ages 4 to 11 years that produces digital content and conducts on ground activities in Pakistan. We create fun, localized and multi-platform educational content teaching them cultural and ethical values. It also helps kids leverage their learning to change their lives. We’ve previously worked with RB, DFID, Ilm Ideas, Ufone, Engro, Heritage Foundation and Habitt to name a few. Our portfolio includes international collaborations with Goethe institute (an exchange residency program with Brazilian artists), Children’s Reading Festival’19 in Sharjah, UAE and the Little Book Project in India. Our objective is to educate and entertain Pakistani children despite the drastic socio-economic class disparity in Pakistan.
3. How did the idea for Haha Studio come about?
Along with our “real” jobs, we were always keen on working for kids for a bigger purpose. We did storytelling sessions at T2F, KLF and CLF and finally we decided to do something on our own. There’s so much Western and Indian content out there and no quality local content being produced exclusively for kids. That’s where we saw a gap and stepped in. I also have a toddler at home and YouTube was my rescue whenever she fusses around, which compelled me to come up with local content.
4. Who are the early employees in your startup? How did you hire them?
We have a team of 10 people and most of our employees are women as we aim to empower them.Haha Studio strongly encourages mothers to apply since we intend to provide an opportunity for them to earn through something as simple as, but not limited to, storytelling. We encourage stay-at-home moms, who have left or put their careers at hold due to domestic responsibilities, to work with the studio and resume or begin their professional journey once again.
5. How has the feedback been so far?
Haha Studio is more than a year old now but fortunately we have come a long way from creating awareness to convincing people to pay for an experience. The harsh reality is that people are willing to buy worthless tangible items for their kids but are very reluctant to buy something that’s intangible for their edutainment. The value of things is far greater than the value of experiences that would enrich their minds and bodies.
6. What is the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
We have yet to raise investment, hence we are actively looking for grants/funding to scale our business.
7. How do you build your customer/viewer base? How do you market your business?
We market our business through social media and word of mouth. We also hold blogger meet ups etc.
8. What’s a typical day like at StudioHaha?
We highly believe that it’sisn’t the hours you put in your work that counts, but the work you put in the hours. We work from wherever we can, whenever we can. But we primarily operate from the Nest i/o, a co working space, where we were also incubated in 2018.
9. What are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Ownership of your actions.
- Keep your word. If you want to establish a solid reputation, you must deliver on your promises.
- Pay attention to your environment.
10. What everyday hacks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your daily schedule?
We keep a close eye on our competition and never let our head get out of the game. Counting our blessings and living for a greater purpose keeps us going.