CEO ESR, ESR Against Hunger and Fire Station Events & PR, Syed Muhammad Shabi-ul-Hasnain, a passionate food blogger, media expert and social activist talks to Ali Naqvi in an exclusive interview with The5WS about his success in the food industry of Pakistan.
ALI NAQVI: Tell us something about ESR and what are the key factors that led to the formation of the company?
Syed Muhammad Shabi-ul-Hasnain: ESR stands for Eat Sleep Repeat, it’s a company which started from just a Facebook group. I am working in the restaurant industry for the last 5 years. I wanted to create a platform where one can meet the needs of restaurants and foodies at the same time. ESR got incubated at PITB’s Plan9 and has evolved as the Largest Food-forum in Pakistan. We have 300k users with 1000+ posts coming daily and we provide exclusive discounts on more than 500 restaurants free of cost. We’ve also organized one of the biggest food festivals, 7up Foodies Festival, in Lahore last year.
AN: You are a CEO of a number of companies, how do you manage all the work?
SMSH: Being an entrepreneur is really challenging, but I guess if you are doing something with passion and vision that is bigger than yourself, you automatically get the strength and motivation to handle it all.
AN: You are the CEO and Founder of FireStation Media Productions, tell us something about the company?
SMSH: I’ve started this company with the moto to revive the Media of Pakistan. I actually wanted to work on documentaries and Short films, made many of them with the help of my friends and team from NCA. And it all started from just a DSLR and now after having completed my Mphil Media and Communication things are getting along nicely.
AN: How do you see yourself in the lead role?
SMSH: It’s really difficult to meet expectations of people and your teammates and make them see what you believe and foresee specially in critical situations. But I think this is something I have learnt over the last 10 years of my roller coaster career, starting from scratch to the point where I am standing today. And I think Leo’s are always good in Leadership skills.
AN: Food industry is huge in Pakistan, how do you see it in terms of health and hygiene?
SMSH: It’s a major issue we tend to focus especially for our partner restaurants. Usually people don’t take care of such precautionary measures, so in ESR our team-members visits them personally, tries their food and guide them about health and hygiene before collaborating with them to ensure the quality and safety of food. Secondly, people are also cautious more than ever now as members can post bad hygiene conditions in ESR that will greatly affect the brand’s name.
AN: How difficult it is to be a food blogger?
SMSH: Nowadays, blogging is a trendy thing. There are a large number of people in the market who are trying to label themselves as Bloggers. I believe a genuine blogger is one who has enough knowledge and exposure to different tastes and styles of foods. He will never mold his/her reviews for any personal benefits. So, as a blogger I always try to post genuine and unbiased reviews to guide my followers and help restaurants too to improve their cuisines.
AN: Tell us something about ESR Against Hunger initiative?
SMSH: ESRAH stands for ESR Against Hunger. Esrah is also an Urdu word meaning the way of blessing. It’s basically a CSR activity of ESR. In ESRAH we collect excess food from different restaurants on daily basis and deliver that to the needy. We also organize a monthly activity in which we invite orphans from different orphanages and take them to HiFi restaurants so that they can also have an experience like we enjoy in our daily lives. We receive great response from our audience in terms of donations to expand these activities further, Inshallah.
AN: What is the secret behind your success as a food blogger?
SMSH: There is no secret, it’s just a struggle I’ve made. I’ve visited all kinds of restaurants present in Pakistan or out of Pakistan. No matter how big or small a franchise, expensive or cheap, having good ambiance or not, I have been there to do my job. So it’s a continuous and consistent effort of years that helped in developing me as a successful food blogger.
AN: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
SMSH: In next 5 years I see ESR expanding nationwide, having platforms, audience and restaurants on board in all major cities and acting as a single platform catering to the needs of people all around Pakistan and celebrating their love for food.
AN: How would you describe yourself as a person?
SMSH: I’m a hardworking person who never settles down for less, who always learns from his mistakes and never get disheartened from failures, who always tries to be the number one.