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From Corporate to Classical: Building The Global Platform For South Asian Classical Music

Faraan Irfan

Saarey

Powered By:

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From Corporate to Classical: Building The Global Platform For South Asian Classical Music

Faraan Irfan

|

Saarey

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube
Faraan Irfan
Full transcript here

About Faraan Irfan

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Episode 124: Amardeep Parmar (https://www.linkedin.com/in/amardeepsparmar) from The BAE HQ (https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-bae-hq) welcomes Faraan Irfan, CEO and Co-Founder of Saarey.

Faaran Irfan, CEO of Saarey Music, shares his transformative journey from a successful corporate career and childhood dreamer to pioneering the global platform for South Asian classical music. He highlights his ambitions to make classical music a viable career path and discusses the evolution of Saarey Music from a simple idea to a thriving music streaming service with over a million active users.

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Show Notes: 

00:00 - Intro

01:35: Discussion on Faaran's childhood ambitions and how they evolved into a drive for making a meaningful impact through music.

02:51: Exploration of Farhan's family's influence on his ambitions and the foundation of Saarey Music.

03:26: Faaran shares his academic and extracurricular achievements, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit.

04:32: Transition from school to university, showcasing Faaran's leadership and initiative in various activities.

05:49: Faaran's achievements in swimming and coaching, reflecting on generational progress and personal growth.

06:13: The role of sports and leadership in Faaran's development and the early inklings of entrepreneurship.

07:05: Faaran's university initiatives and the pursuit of doing something special, leading to the idea of Saarey Music.

08:26: Cultural expectations, family support, and Faaran's diverse interests in shaping his path towards Saarey Music.

09:29: Faaran's transition from university to his initial career phase, and the struggle to find direction.

10:08: The support from family and mentors in overcoming life's challenges and the inception of Saarey Music.

11:17: Reflection on Faaran's corporate career and the pivotal moments leading to the founding of Saarey Music.

12:16: The genesis of Saarey Music from a personal passion to a global platform for South Asian classical music.

13:14: Building Saarey Music with a focus on market fit and the importance of a supportive team.

14:16: Expansion of Saarey Music's mission to embrace South Asian classical music and its cultural significance.

15:11: Faaran's vision for Saarey Music as a platform for promoting and preserving South Asian classical music.

16:01: Key moments and conversations that highlighted Saarey Music's potential and direction.

17:24: Establishing and growing Saarey Music as a leading streaming service, addressing market needs.

18:14: Reflections on Saarey Music's role in the global music industry and its cultural impact.

19:03: Faaran's journey of resilience and adaptation through life and career transitions.

20:53: The foundational decisions shaping Sari Music's identity and mission in the music streaming market.

22:03: The evolution of Saarey Music, emphasising its position in the music streaming industry.

23:56: Future aspirations for Saarey Music and its potential impact on South Asian classical music globally.

25:05: Building and scaling Saarey Music through partnerships, mentorship, and community engagement.

26:43: The process of developing Saarey Music's platform and offerings, focusing on user experience.

27:13: The importance of community and collaboration in Saarey Music's development and growth.

28:18: Achievements and milestones in Saarey Music's journey, highlighting its growth and impact.

29:21: The broader impact of Saarey Music on artists, listeners, and the music industry.

30:10: Faaran's long-term vision for making South Asian classical music a viable career path through Saarey Music.

Faraan Irfan: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/faraanirfan/

Saarey: 

https://www.linkedin.com/company/saarey/

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Show Notes

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From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

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Faraan Irfan Full Transcript

Faraan Irfan: 0:00

And I never, quite ever, thought that music would be my career. It was going to New York and Hong Kong and Dubai and so during that time I wanted to listen to some Pakistani classical music and actually I went on YouTube and Spotify and I was like, why can I not find this anywhere? And that essentially was you know, kind of sparked the inquisition towards wanting to start sorry music. My ultimate dream is to make South Asian classical music, whether it's Pakistani classical music, whether it's Indian classical music or Hindustani classical music, a viable career option for everyone.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:41

Today on the podcast we have Farhan Irfan, who's the CEO and co-founder of Saarey Music. They're the number one destination for South Asian classical music. He's got a really interesting journey, having been a major swimmer as a child, assessing school records before going to university and graduating and being a bit lost about what he was going to do. He then had a successful corporate career before hitting a roadblock which then made him think about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life to make a difference. That's where he realised that music was such a big passion of his and he had the skills and the ability to make a difference in that. And it was a massive community being underserved of people from all over the world who wanted to listen to South Asian classical music but had nowhere to go, and they've now reached over a million active users. So really interesting journey.

Amardeep Parmar: 1:35

So I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We're the BAE HQ, I'm Amar, and we're powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So you've had a really interesting journey and it's not an obvious one from looking at history either. But if you get even further back, when you were a kid, what was your dream? What was your ambitions?

Faraan Irfan: 1:53

I know you ask this question regularly, so I did think about this and the earliest memory I have of what I want to be or what I want to do is I wanted flying boots. I wanted to make flying boots. Now, that never actually happened, but what I really remember in terms of what has been enduring has been just wanting to do something for the world, something special and something that has meaning and that has impact and I know that's cliche, but that's actually true.

Faraan Irfan: 2:28

I had a when I was I think when I was 10 years old I had a small kind of notebook and on that notebook I had written mediocrity is sin, and that's something that I never really thought of too much until, kind of I've started doing these interviews when people have started asking me questions.

Faraan Irfan: 2:51

That's when I've kind of gone back and thought about it and I remembered that I had written that then, and that's kind of what's always driven me since I've been very young, that I really wanted to make a difference. I never really knew until I started doing this as to what that really means and what that can translate into.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:11

Why do you think there was like? Why were you like mediocrity is sin. For a child to write that is quite a lot of pressure right in some ways too. Where did that come from? Where was that idea that I can, I need to be really good and I'd be able to change the world and make a difference? Where was that drive coming from?

Faraan Irfan: 3:26

Wow, great question. I don't know at that point why I wrote that, but maybe it was because of the family that I've grown up in. So my paternal side of the family, my grandfather, was a very successful bureaucrat in Pakistan. He was the first. He ended up becoming the first Auditor general of Pakistan. He was then also the Auditor of the UN accounts and he knew multiple languages I think French, Urdu, Punjabi, English. You know, very well traveled and very well respected. And then on my mother's side of the family has been always incredible. My, you know, my nana, my grandfather on my mother's side, he is the one who founded the All-Pakistan Music Conference, which has been around since 1959. And that's kind of what I've grown up with and which is why Sariah Music is now born, and I'm sure we'll get into that more again.

Faraan Irfan: 4:32

Exceptionally amazing guy and, you know, did exceptionally well in business and then did something that really made a difference to society. And then my mother is absolutely incredible as well. She is one of the leading philosophers in the Muslim world. She was asked to be on the world on the committee for the world Congress of Philosophy, which she declined, but she is, or has been, the president of the Islamic Philosophical Association in Pakistan is the secretary general of the All-Pakistan Music Conference, continuing my grandfather's work. She is or has been, I think, the president of the Pakistan Philosophical Congress, the Pakistan Japan Cultural Association, so there's a long list. And she's a professor of philosophy in Pakistan. But she's done all of this in such incredible work and, you know, has been. I guess I've grown up seeing all of that and maybe that's why. But great question, I never really thought about why I wrote that, but I just remember writing it.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:35

So it's interesting, as I learned that about you. What you're doing today makes a lot more sense, but it obviously isn't what you did straight out of university, right? So when you started your university, you started studying. What was the initial step you took? What was that you first thought this is where I'm gonna start making way in my life?

Faraan Irfan: 5:53

See, that notion that I want to do something special, something special, has stuck around with me for the longest time, so even when I was in school. I was very fortunate to be able to go to the well, some of the best schools in Pakistan. It's called Hichsun College. When I was there, you know, I ended up breaking 20 of 27 records in swimming.

Faraan Irfan: 6:13

I ended up then breaking the provincial record for the Punjab, which was at that time 35 years old, and I broke that record. I was then best swimmer Pakistan in swimming, and recently I also coached swimming for a while, and the reason I got into that was because a friend of mine who used to swim with me said to me you should start coaching. I said why should I do that and why would anyone even learn from me? And he said your records have still not been broken for 20 years. And that actually disturbed me, because I truly believe that every generation should be better than the previous one, and if that hasn't happened, then something's something needs to be fixed. And I did get into that as well, but so, but you know at. So when I was at Aitchison, I did all of that, and then I was lucky enough to be selected to be the head boy of the school as well.

Faraan Irfan: 7:05

And then, when I went to university and then I did something that had never been done before, which was it was called the Millennium Festival, and it was the first time ever that the top schools of Lahore got together over a two week period to do not just sports competitions, but it was a joint. You know, all girls schools and all boys schools came together to do a joint play. There was a jointly organized quiz, competition and there was loads of co-curricular activities and sports activities and debates. And all of this had never happened before and, kind of, I was very fortunate to have a principal who, when I floated the idea to, was very supportive of it and which is why it happened and a great set of people who said, yes, we want to do it, we'll do it together. So you know, that background had always been there.

Faraan Irfan: 8:00

And then I went to university again, was fortunate to get into Lums, which is one of the this continues to be one of the best universities in Pakistan. I saw there was no swimming or water polo team and we fall. I you know. I again went to the administrator and said we'd like to do that. I said please do it. Again, had great support there and formed the swimming and water polo team despite the university not having a swimming pool on get.

Faraan Irfan: 8:26

So we used to go to another swimming pool at another university which was 20 minutes of driving away, to train and then we ended up becoming the best university in Pakistan in swimming and then we also ended up becoming the best university in water polo in Pakistan, and so that's kind of you know that underlying wanting to do something special has always been there, and so when I went, that's kind of what happened in school and university and I was also selected as best sportsman at the university and captain of the football team and all of that but kind of doing that extra thing was always there. You know what is missing and what can I do to improve the place I'm in has always kind of been there. So my, you know, the long answer to your question is kind of you know that underlying feeling and concept and thought has always been there, which has led me to do whatever I've done.

Amardeep Parmar: 9:29

Well, it seems to me there's often the stereotype of, like Asian parents not wanting their kids to do sports or high level, to spend their time studying instead. But what you've just said, there's so many things you did, actually curricular there and I guess because of the background of your family did they encourage that and push you to keep trying to do different things? Because, from looking at, they joined the dots backwards, people who've done sports or high level or done leadership and non-entrepreneurship things or high level before it means they've built up a lot of the skills that they're going to be useful down the line if they do start their own companies. How was that situation for you? Did they want you to just focus on your studies, get your good degree? Or were they saying like, or they're really encouraging you to do the things you're doing?

Faraan Irfan: 10:08

That's a great question. Oh, you're taking me into my childhood quite a bit here. So I remember when I was 14. So my mother got a postdoctoral for research grant to continue her philosophical research at SUNY Stony Brook in New York in the US and she took me along. So that was the kind of my first international exposure when we were going there. At that point in time you had to fill out, I think, immigration forms when you were landing, disembarkation forms, whatever they're called, and I didn't want to fill mine out. And I gave mine to my mom and she said why aren't you filling it out? And I said, oh, because I have terrible handwriting. And I had thought that because somebody had said that to me. And she said she took, she was a little taken by.

Faraan Irfan: 10:57

She said what do you mean? You have great handwriting and you're going to fill out mine too. I was resistant but I did it. So you know my mother has always been there as this incredible pillar of support and encouragement in everything that I've done. You know, that is one example of it.

Faraan Irfan: 11:17

And then when at university they were, you know, when I was doing the Millennium Festival, the principal was a huge pillar of support. But the headmaster had a tiff with the principal and there was political tension there and he didn't want me to do it because the principal had. It was considered the principal's project. And so he called my parents in to say your son is going to be ruined, his grades are going to go down. So my father is actually a businessman. He's not. And my mother is the academic, and my father was concerned. But my mother turns around who's the academic, who's the PhD, who's the philosophy professor? And she goes. But my son is not an academic. Let him do what he thinks he. You know what things he needs to do and he feels he needs to do, let him do it. So, yes, I've just been very fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents and incredibly supportive mother.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:16

And then when you're going into your career now right, so you're trying to make your waves in the workplace, it's obviously very difficult to go from straight out of university to making those huge splashes. How did you find that transition from being football captain, from being kind of top of the university in some ways in different aspects, to now starting your career and having to work way up that ladder?

Faraan Irfan: 12:37

Great question. I couldn't find a job for a year, so in a sense I just took a gap year. But the honest truth is I tried looking for a job, I just couldn't find it. I had no idea how to navigate the job world. I had no idea how to go about finding a job, and so I just took the first job that came to me. It was like this guy said you know? You know, yeah, somebody said there's a job opportunity, applied for it. He interviewed me, gave me the job, I took it, and that's essentially how I got in there, and then it was just about putting my head down and doing whatever I could do.

Faraan Irfan: 13:14

And then you know more, it was just always about I'm doing this, how can I improve that? And so not in my first job, but I remember from my second job there was at that point in time we were given data dumps which we used to put in Excel and we had to do analysis on them. And it was actually very simple analysis, just really summarization of the work which we can now do through pivot tables. But at that point we had no idea how to do pivot tables. And so about six months in, even though there were 10 other people doing the same thing I was doing it for my dataset and others were doing it for the others I discovered pivot tables. And so what used to take me four to five hours to do, I started doing it in five minutes, but that was only because it was always, you know, I had in my mind that I wanted to improve whatever I was doing and try and be the best at it.

Amardeep Parmar: 14:16

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what is you even trying to do. HSBC have got the team. They're built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovationbanking. com. And what was that journey? So you've obviously, with the music side of things as well at this point. Were you studying music yourself? Did you play instruments or was it? Where did the love for that? So, obviously, with what your mom and your granddad was doing, was there any inkling for you that maybe someday you'd try to do something in the music space?

Faraan Irfan: 15:11

Great question. Well, thank you for finally coming to the music part, because I've never been asked these questions before. By the way, this is great. The music part is so, like I said, I've grown up listening to the genre and my family has been patrons of it for now 64 years, and so there was never an expectation, but there's always kind of a hope that I will continue the work that they're doing at the All Pakistan Music Conference. And I mean, my mother has an absolutely amazing way of getting people involved, incredibly inspirational, and she always kind of hopes people will do something. And then you know, and then people kind of automatically step up, even if not immediately, kind of over time, and I guess that's what happened with me as well.

Faraan Irfan: 16:01

She was doing it and you know I wanted to help and I wanted to do whatever I could and whatever I could see that you know, things needed to prove I kind of puttin' myself in there and I never, quite ever, thought that music would be my career, but it was always there as an enduring part and a very important part of my life. And so, when you know, the story of Saarey music really began as several catalyzing moments, but one of which is Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan, who is one of the greatest Sitar players in the world today, and Ustad Shahbaz Hussain sat me down in a cafe in Lahore. They were, Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan lives in Germany. Ustad Shahbaz Hussain plays the Tabla. One of the leading Tabla players in the world today, lives in Rushdale. And they were in Lahore for the All Pakistan Music Conference and on the festival. And on the side of that, you know, we went to a cafe and we sat down. Outdoor is beautiful Lahore evening and they said you have to do something for Pakistani classical music. Because if you don't, it's gonna die. It is now yours and our responsibility to start making a difference.

Faraan Irfan: 17:24

And then that was at the back of my mind and then when I was doing my MBA, I wanted to listen to some classical music. So I did a global MBA from Columbia Business School, London Business School and Hong Kong University, which is essentially a. We have to spend one week every month in either London or I was in Lahore at that time. So you know, I had to travel to London for a week, then I traveled back to Lahore and then I was going to New York and Hong Kong and Dubai, and so during that time I wanted to listen to some Pakistani classical music and actually I went on YouTube and Spotify and I was like, why can I not find this anywhere? And that essentially was, you know, kind of sparked the inquisition towards wanting to start Saarey Music.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:14

And the bit we haven't covered here as well is that you had quite a long career in the corporate world, right, and there's positions where you obviously were doing very well in your career. If you're gonna do an MBA, that was obviously showing some quite ambition on that side too. With these different things coming into play of, okay, the chat you had with the music masters there, the problem you could see where's the inkling that like I wanna go and do something about myself, or where is it that flight safety of like I'm actually doing quite well, I've got a steady position here. Was it easy for you to decide? Okay, I'm gonna try. And because initially it was a record label, right, was that an easy thing to start? Or was it a challenge with your identity of do I take this risk or not? But I try and it doesn't work out?

Faraan Irfan: 19:03

So during my career, like I said, this was always in the background and I was in the leading telecoms of Pakistan. And then I got a job in in the Middle East. So I was based out of Bahrain but I was working in. The head office was in Dubai and there was. I used to drive across a causeway to Khubar every day and I was there and they had been given a license to start telecom operations in Saudi. That company had, but there was some tiff between our group CEO and Saudi Prince apparently, and so they never ended up getting the license. So we were laid off.

Faraan Irfan: 19:50

So I think I was there for two years and then all of a sudden, having this fabulous career trajectory and being very happy with where I was going, it was a complete shock. I just couldn't understand. I couldn't understand what was happening or how to navigate it, and so moved back to Pakistan for a year. That's when the conversation actually happened with my friend that I spoke about, where he said you should start coaching. You have the time, you're not doing anything, might as well do this. And I was like why would even somebody want to coach with me? And then he got me students, my initial students, and I was very happy about that as well, because this is one of the students I started coaching. He was, his mother took a chance with me. He was initially second or third in his in butterfly and his event and then he eventually spent nine, 10 months with me. He not only broke, he started breaking my records at school and then he went on to break the national record in the event.

Faraan Irfan: 20:53

And then when we compared his timings with the kids in his age group in Australia, if he had competed there he would have gotten the silver medal in his event, so he had become that good. So that transition between the corporate job. And then I applied for the MBA during that time because I was like, what can I do now? And I was very lucky to get admission to this incredible program. I deferred it for a year because I didn't have the money to do it, and so I started doing this, and even while I was doing my MBA I was still coaching swimming. So I used to coach them for three weeks and then not be there for a week again. So who does that to these people to actually take, taking a chance with me, to still continuing, despite me needing to be aware, for a whole week? And so that kind of transition is where the MBA happened. And doing the MBA is when I was storing with three different business ideas.

Faraan Irfan: 22:03

But every time I spoke about music I could see the difference in how people reacted, and not just music per se, but music with me, because what? The term that I learned later was essentially founder market fit, which I didn't realize at that point. But at that point it was just I wanted to do something with Pakistani classical music, which is now South Asian classical music. So what we're doing now is not just for Pakistan but it's for the region. But that point in time that's all I wanted to do, because I wanted to make that difference. I could see these incredible world-class artists who should be getting more recognition on the world state, because there are absolutely incredible and I'm in a position where I can make a difference. I could make a difference, and so that's when I saw that I said, all right, let's do something.

Faraan Irfan: 22:58

And then a conversation with one professor led to him introducing me to a customer who said I will license the music from you, which is where the record label came into play. I said, oh, so what do we need to do? Oh, we need to set up a company so that we can do that transaction. That's where the record label came in. But we only had one customer and that was it. But that laid the groundwork for me realizing that there is a market out there, that there are people who want to listen to this genre, and, during the MBA, realized that there are at that point there were 80 million people who I found wanted to listen to the genre but didn't have easy access to it. And now that the number has grown to 150 million and it continues to rapidly grow, but that's kind of the base, of kind of how it all started.

Amardeep Parmar: 23:56

So obviously you've gone for a pivot there with the record label. Twiddle is today. Can you explain to the audience what that pivot was and what exactly Saarey yesterday?

Faraan Irfan: 24:04

I wouldn't consider it a pivot, I would still say so evolution.

Faraan Irfan: 24:08

Evolution yes, evolution is a better word because we're still doing work in South Asian classical music. At that point it was just Pakistani classical music. And so while, like I keep saying, while doing my MBA, I one of the guest speakers. One of the things that I had chosen to do would speak with everyone, every professor, every guest speaker, all of my peers, everybody I came into contact with about the ideas that I have and what they thought, to get their opinion and their advice.

Faraan Irfan: 24:36

One of the guest speakers at London Business School's entrepreneurship summer school program was Devan Dave. I went up to him, spoke to him as I would with everybody else. He was kind enough to say oh, this is really interesting, let's chat. And so we had several chats. And then on one of those chats, at London Business School's Radcliffe building, on the lower ground floor, they have an L-shaped blue surfboard with multi-colored dots.

Faraan Irfan: 25:05

Still remember we opened a laptop and typical cliche startup story punched in a couple of numbers in a spreadsheet and he said there's a huge market, we, you have the expertise and access to the content. You should have your own music streaming service. And so that's how the record label, which was essentially at that point in time already dead in a sense, but the learnings were there, and the record label then evolved into this music streaming service. The record label was based out of Dubai because from the beginning, I was very clear that this what we should do and what I should be doing should not be only restricted to Pakistan, and so Dubai is a melting pot for all Indians in Pakistanis among

Faraan Irfan: 26:02

Bangladeshis for the region and the world, and so Dubai was a very good place to start. But the ease of doing business in Dubai is good. It's even better here in London, so decided to open the music streaming service here in London so that we can reach a much larger audience and, like Dubai, London is a melting pot for South Asians, and so that record label then evolved into a music streaming service, as it is today.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:28

So it's really interesting how that's grown there. What was that first step? To say, okay, you're going to now make this a music streaming service. What did you now do? So how did you then make that a reality and build that out and get the people on board to get you to where you are today?

Faraan Irfan: 26:43

Just do it, because I'm sure you hear from everyone that's done anything. It was just about doing it. It was like, all right, we want to do this. What do we need to do? Find people. How do we find people? You know? Go to your networks, go to LinkedIn, see where. What are your gaps? I mean, this is all typical. What are the gaps that you have? How can you? You know who are the people that you need, what are the expertise and what are the tasks that need to be delivered? And then deliver that.

Faraan Irfan: 27:13

So the first thing when we thought all right, music streaming service was, went to my network, got advice as to go here and do this and these are the tools you can use to do this, and just did it. Went to the London Business School Network as we were doing that, because we had expertise in Pakistani classical music, but we didn't have expertise in streaming or tech. So tried to look for somebody who worked in Apple or Spotify who could help us. And then Nick is. That's when Nick came into the picture. Nick was initially a mentor to what we were doing because he had worked in Spotify as a subscription manager. So we found him, reached out to him. He said, yes, I'll mentor you and advise you. He was like amazing, great. And then, six months in, he had been giving such great advice and we felt he was such a good fit to us as a company that we you know, I went to New York and I invited him to be a co-founder and I'm so grateful that he accepted, because he's the one who set up the underlying tech infrastructure on analytic infrastructure, on which we base all our decisions.

Faraan Irfan: 28:18

And, like I said, devin is the guy who came up with the idea for the Saarey music platform. It wasn't me, so it's really again, I'm sure you heard all the time just surround with yourself with people who compliment you, who great people who share your vision, and that's how, essentially, the building blocks were made. Our first app was actually white labeled, so we were suggested that there's an online website where all you need to do is upload the content that everything else, we did that. We did it for six months. It was terrible. It was absolute nightmare. It was such a bad service. The user experience was terrible, but that helped us learn that there's a huge market that we, you know, prove, give us initial improved points, that there is actually a market out there that wants to listen to it. So then we went out and found developers, freelancers who continue to work with us even today, who built out that initial platform and then continue that continues to improve.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:21

So the other day I got your investor update as well. So I can see you've made some pretty impressive progress since those early days and I love you could share some of that. There's big wins you've had for the audience. They can get an idea of where you are today.

Faraan Irfan: 29:33

Oh, wow, thank you for asking. So when we before we did our first fundraise, we were at about 7,000 unique monthly active users. We went to investors and said we know there's a big market, we now have a product which resonates with them, and we gave them proof points. We now need your help to accelerate this usage. And they were incredible people who trusted in what we're doing, gave us the money and then in one year, we grew 70 times to over 500,000 unique monthly active users.

Faraan Irfan: 30:10

This was 2022. And then 2023, we grew another 270% to now over 1.4 million unique monthly active users. And now, as we're raising our seed round, we're seeing when we have those proof points there, we're saying to investors, we have now proven out that there is a market that is underserved and what we're doing resonates with them. We have now figured out a repeatable paid customer acquisition strategy and we have the proof points for it and we're saying when we now need your help to scale this. As we said when we raised our pre-seed now we're raising our seed to say at that point we wanted to scale the users. Now we want to scale the monetization.

Amardeep Parmar: 30:53

So what's the overall dream for this right? So you said, I think, Sadele, that's 150 million people in demand of the service. What does success look like? Say, 10 years time? Let's have you do this interview again. What would you hope that you could say you've achieved?

Faraan Irfan: 31:08

Wow, you ask really good questions.

Faraan Irfan: 31:09

Why would these questions not shared in advance?

Faraan Irfan: 31:13

So my ultimate dream is to make South Asian classical music whether it's Pakistani classical music, whether it's Indian classical music or Hindustani classical music a viable career option for everyone, for people like you and me, for people who graduate from the best universities in the world to be thinking about having a career in this genre of music, in whatever capacity that might be.

Faraan Irfan: 31:41

That can be in tech, that can be in music editing, that can be being a musician themselves. That's my eventual ultimate dream. But that involves a lot of different things to happen, so that entire infrastructure and ecosystem needs to be built, and we hope that through Saarey Music, we're able to build that digital infrastructure which can then eventually translate into a physical ecosystem and infrastructure which exists for other genres of music and sadly, it is only at the bare bones of what needs to be there for this genre of music. And so, 10 years down, I hope we'll be. We'll be there to be able to say we've at least, you know, started laying the seeds in people's minds to say I want to do this and I can.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:37

So thank you so much for coming on today. We're gonna have to jump to a quick five questions now, okay, so first one is who are three British Asians you think of doing incredible work that you love to shout out for the audience to pay attention to.

Faraan Irfan: 32:51

So I'd naturally go to artists directly. Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan is one of the best Sitar players in the world today. That is, he's immensely underappreciated. He deserves to be on the world stage. Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, he has an incredible voice. He has gotten some recognition already. He deserves more. And then Ustad Shahbaz Hussain, one of the best Tabla players in the world today. Here he lives here in the UK. There are lots of others which I mean you're restricting me to three, but they're such incredible artists who are doing such incredible work that people really need to start paying attention to, because they're gonna be big very soon.

Amardeep Parmar: 33:38

Well, hopefully a few people listen today. Check out those people you've mentioned. Next one is how can people find out more about you and more about Saarey Music?

Faraan Irfan: 33:45

Oh, great question. Just do a Google search and if you do, I'll be very grateful. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn. We have a website, www. saareymusiccom. Please download the app from the app store. The best experiences on the app and I hope you really enjoy it.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:04

And do you think that the audience could help you if today?

Faraan Irfan: 34:06

Well,thank you. We're always looking for great people to join us. We're always looking for people to download the app, listen to it, enjoy the music. I hope it helps you. People continue to tell us it provides a lot of tranquility and peace and serenity to their lives and I hope that you will download it and also experience that. And we're fundraising. So if you're an investor or if you know investors who might be a good fit for us, please reach out. We have our seed round ongoing at this time. We raised about 30% on now of our three million pound round. We opened the round, think about two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and so we already have 30% and five of our investors previous investors have already followed on. So if you know investors, if the audience knows investors who are interested, we'd love to check.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:58

So thanks so much for coming on again. Have you got any final words?

Faraan Irfan: 35:01

Well, thank you very much for having me and download the app. Check it out. Thank you for watching.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:05

Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

Faraan Irfan: 0:00And I never, quite ever, thought that music would be my career. It was going to New York and Hong Kong and Dubai and so during that time I wanted to listen to some Pakistani classical music and actually I went on YouTube and Spotify and I was like, why can I not find this anywhere? And that essentially was you know, kind of sparked the inquisition towards wanting to start sorry music. My ultimate dream is to make South Asian classical music, whether it's Pakistani classical music, whether it's Indian classical music or Hindustani classical music, a viable career option for everyone.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:41

Today on the podcast we have Farhan Irfan, who's the CEO and co-founder of Saarey Music. They're the number one destination for South Asian classical music. He's got a really interesting journey, having been a major swimmer as a child, assessing school records before going to university and graduating and being a bit lost about what he was going to do. He then had a successful corporate career before hitting a roadblock which then made him think about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life to make a difference. That's where he realised that music was such a big passion of his and he had the skills and the ability to make a difference in that. And it was a massive community being underserved of people from all over the world who wanted to listen to South Asian classical music but had nowhere to go, and they've now reached over a million active users. So really interesting journey.

Amardeep Parmar: 1:35

So I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We're the BAE HQ, I'm Amar, and we're powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So you've had a really interesting journey and it's not an obvious one from looking at history either. But if you get even further back, when you were a kid, what was your dream? What was your ambitions?

Faraan Irfan: 1:53

I know you ask this question regularly, so I did think about this and the earliest memory I have of what I want to be or what I want to do is I wanted flying boots. I wanted to make flying boots. Now, that never actually happened, but what I really remember in terms of what has been enduring has been just wanting to do something for the world, something special and something that has meaning and that has impact and I know that's cliche, but that's actually true.

Faraan Irfan: 2:28

I had a when I was I think when I was 10 years old I had a small kind of notebook and on that notebook I had written mediocrity is sin, and that's something that I never really thought of too much until, kind of I've started doing these interviews when people have started asking me questions.

Faraan Irfan: 2:51

That's when I've kind of gone back and thought about it and I remembered that I had written that then, and that's kind of what's always driven me since I've been very young, that I really wanted to make a difference. I never really knew until I started doing this as to what that really means and what that can translate into.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:11

Why do you think there was like? Why were you like mediocrity is sin. For a child to write that is quite a lot of pressure right in some ways too. Where did that come from? Where was that idea that I can, I need to be really good and I'd be able to change the world and make a difference? Where was that drive coming from?

Faraan Irfan: 3:26

Wow, great question. I don't know at that point why I wrote that, but maybe it was because of the family that I've grown up in. So my paternal side of the family, my grandfather, was a very successful bureaucrat in Pakistan. He was the first. He ended up becoming the first Auditor general of Pakistan. He was then also the Auditor of the UN accounts and he knew multiple languages I think French, Urdu, Punjabi, English. You know, very well traveled and very well respected. And then on my mother's side of the family has been always incredible. My, you know, my nana, my grandfather on my mother's side, he is the one who founded the All-Pakistan Music Conference, which has been around since 1959. And that's kind of what I've grown up with and which is why Sariah Music is now born, and I'm sure we'll get into that more again.

Faraan Irfan: 4:32

Exceptionally amazing guy and, you know, did exceptionally well in business and then did something that really made a difference to society. And then my mother is absolutely incredible as well. She is one of the leading philosophers in the Muslim world. She was asked to be on the world on the committee for the world Congress of Philosophy, which she declined, but she is, or has been, the president of the Islamic Philosophical Association in Pakistan is the secretary general of the All-Pakistan Music Conference, continuing my grandfather's work. She is or has been, I think, the president of the Pakistan Philosophical Congress, the Pakistan Japan Cultural Association, so there's a long list. And she's a professor of philosophy in Pakistan. But she's done all of this in such incredible work and, you know, has been. I guess I've grown up seeing all of that and maybe that's why. But great question, I never really thought about why I wrote that, but I just remember writing it.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:35

So it's interesting, as I learned that about you. What you're doing today makes a lot more sense, but it obviously isn't what you did straight out of university, right? So when you started your university, you started studying. What was the initial step you took? What was that you first thought this is where I'm gonna start making way in my life?

Faraan Irfan: 5:53

See, that notion that I want to do something special, something special, has stuck around with me for the longest time, so even when I was in school. I was very fortunate to be able to go to the well, some of the best schools in Pakistan. It's called Hichsun College. When I was there, you know, I ended up breaking 20 of 27 records in swimming.

Faraan Irfan: 6:13

I ended up then breaking the provincial record for the Punjab, which was at that time 35 years old, and I broke that record. I was then best swimmer Pakistan in swimming, and recently I also coached swimming for a while, and the reason I got into that was because a friend of mine who used to swim with me said to me you should start coaching. I said why should I do that and why would anyone even learn from me? And he said your records have still not been broken for 20 years. And that actually disturbed me, because I truly believe that every generation should be better than the previous one, and if that hasn't happened, then something's something needs to be fixed. And I did get into that as well, but so, but you know at. So when I was at Aitchison, I did all of that, and then I was lucky enough to be selected to be the head boy of the school as well.

Faraan Irfan: 7:05

And then, when I went to university and then I did something that had never been done before, which was it was called the Millennium Festival, and it was the first time ever that the top schools of Lahore got together over a two week period to do not just sports competitions, but it was a joint. You know, all girls schools and all boys schools came together to do a joint play. There was a jointly organized quiz, competition and there was loads of co-curricular activities and sports activities and debates. And all of this had never happened before and, kind of, I was very fortunate to have a principal who, when I floated the idea to, was very supportive of it and which is why it happened and a great set of people who said, yes, we want to do it, we'll do it together. So you know, that background had always been there.

Faraan Irfan: 8:00

And then I went to university again, was fortunate to get into Lums, which is one of the this continues to be one of the best universities in Pakistan. I saw there was no swimming or water polo team and we fall. I you know. I again went to the administrator and said we'd like to do that. I said please do it. Again, had great support there and formed the swimming and water polo team despite the university not having a swimming pool on get.

Faraan Irfan: 8:26

So we used to go to another swimming pool at another university which was 20 minutes of driving away, to train and then we ended up becoming the best university in Pakistan in swimming and then we also ended up becoming the best university in water polo in Pakistan, and so that's kind of you know that underlying wanting to do something special has always been there, and so when I went, that's kind of what happened in school and university and I was also selected as best sportsman at the university and captain of the football team and all of that but kind of doing that extra thing was always there. You know what is missing and what can I do to improve the place I'm in has always kind of been there. So my, you know, the long answer to your question is kind of you know that underlying feeling and concept and thought has always been there, which has led me to do whatever I've done.

Amardeep Parmar: 9:29

Well, it seems to me there's often the stereotype of, like Asian parents not wanting their kids to do sports or high level, to spend their time studying instead. But what you've just said, there's so many things you did, actually curricular there and I guess because of the background of your family did they encourage that and push you to keep trying to do different things? Because, from looking at, they joined the dots backwards, people who've done sports or high level or done leadership and non-entrepreneurship things or high level before it means they've built up a lot of the skills that they're going to be useful down the line if they do start their own companies. How was that situation for you? Did they want you to just focus on your studies, get your good degree? Or were they saying like, or they're really encouraging you to do the things you're doing?

Faraan Irfan: 10:08

That's a great question. Oh, you're taking me into my childhood quite a bit here. So I remember when I was 14. So my mother got a postdoctoral for research grant to continue her philosophical research at SUNY Stony Brook in New York in the US and she took me along. So that was the kind of my first international exposure when we were going there. At that point in time you had to fill out, I think, immigration forms when you were landing, disembarkation forms, whatever they're called, and I didn't want to fill mine out. And I gave mine to my mom and she said why aren't you filling it out? And I said, oh, because I have terrible handwriting. And I had thought that because somebody had said that to me. And she said she took, she was a little taken by.

Faraan Irfan: 10:57

She said what do you mean? You have great handwriting and you're going to fill out mine too. I was resistant but I did it. So you know my mother has always been there as this incredible pillar of support and encouragement in everything that I've done. You know, that is one example of it.

Faraan Irfan: 11:17

And then when at university they were, you know, when I was doing the Millennium Festival, the principal was a huge pillar of support. But the headmaster had a tiff with the principal and there was political tension there and he didn't want me to do it because the principal had. It was considered the principal's project. And so he called my parents in to say your son is going to be ruined, his grades are going to go down. So my father is actually a businessman. He's not. And my mother is the academic, and my father was concerned. But my mother turns around who's the academic, who's the PhD, who's the philosophy professor? And she goes. But my son is not an academic. Let him do what he thinks he. You know what things he needs to do and he feels he needs to do, let him do it. So, yes, I've just been very fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents and incredibly supportive mother.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:16

And then when you're going into your career now right, so you're trying to make your waves in the workplace, it's obviously very difficult to go from straight out of university to making those huge splashes. How did you find that transition from being football captain, from being kind of top of the university in some ways in different aspects, to now starting your career and having to work way up that ladder?

Faraan Irfan: 12:37

Great question. I couldn't find a job for a year, so in a sense I just took a gap year. But the honest truth is I tried looking for a job, I just couldn't find it. I had no idea how to navigate the job world. I had no idea how to go about finding a job, and so I just took the first job that came to me. It was like this guy said you know? You know, yeah, somebody said there's a job opportunity, applied for it. He interviewed me, gave me the job, I took it, and that's essentially how I got in there, and then it was just about putting my head down and doing whatever I could do.

Faraan Irfan: 13:14

And then you know more, it was just always about I'm doing this, how can I improve that? And so not in my first job, but I remember from my second job there was at that point in time we were given data dumps which we used to put in Excel and we had to do analysis on them. And it was actually very simple analysis, just really summarization of the work which we can now do through pivot tables. But at that point we had no idea how to do pivot tables. And so about six months in, even though there were 10 other people doing the same thing I was doing it for my dataset and others were doing it for the others I discovered pivot tables. And so what used to take me four to five hours to do, I started doing it in five minutes, but that was only because it was always, you know, I had in my mind that I wanted to improve whatever I was doing and try and be the best at it.

Amardeep Parmar: 14:16

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what is you even trying to do. HSBC have got the team. They're built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovationbanking. com. And what was that journey? So you've obviously, with the music side of things as well at this point. Were you studying music yourself? Did you play instruments or was it? Where did the love for that? So, obviously, with what your mom and your granddad was doing, was there any inkling for you that maybe someday you'd try to do something in the music space?

Faraan Irfan: 15:11

Great question. Well, thank you for finally coming to the music part, because I've never been asked these questions before. By the way, this is great. The music part is so, like I said, I've grown up listening to the genre and my family has been patrons of it for now 64 years, and so there was never an expectation, but there's always kind of a hope that I will continue the work that they're doing at the All Pakistan Music Conference. And I mean, my mother has an absolutely amazing way of getting people involved, incredibly inspirational, and she always kind of hopes people will do something. And then you know, and then people kind of automatically step up, even if not immediately, kind of over time, and I guess that's what happened with me as well.

Faraan Irfan: 16:01

She was doing it and you know I wanted to help and I wanted to do whatever I could and whatever I could see that you know, things needed to prove I kind of puttin' myself in there and I never, quite ever, thought that music would be my career, but it was always there as an enduring part and a very important part of my life. And so, when you know, the story of Saarey music really began as several catalyzing moments, but one of which is Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan, who is one of the greatest Sitar players in the world today, and Ustad Shahbaz Hussain sat me down in a cafe in Lahore. They were, Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan lives in Germany. Ustad Shahbaz Hussain plays the Tabla. One of the leading Tabla players in the world today, lives in Rushdale. And they were in Lahore for the All Pakistan Music Conference and on the festival. And on the side of that, you know, we went to a cafe and we sat down. Outdoor is beautiful Lahore evening and they said you have to do something for Pakistani classical music. Because if you don't, it's gonna die. It is now yours and our responsibility to start making a difference.

Faraan Irfan: 17:24

And then that was at the back of my mind and then when I was doing my MBA, I wanted to listen to some classical music. So I did a global MBA from Columbia Business School, London Business School and Hong Kong University, which is essentially a. We have to spend one week every month in either London or I was in Lahore at that time. So you know, I had to travel to London for a week, then I traveled back to Lahore and then I was going to New York and Hong Kong and Dubai, and so during that time I wanted to listen to some Pakistani classical music and actually I went on YouTube and Spotify and I was like, why can I not find this anywhere? And that essentially was, you know, kind of sparked the inquisition towards wanting to start Saarey Music.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:14

And the bit we haven't covered here as well is that you had quite a long career in the corporate world, right, and there's positions where you obviously were doing very well in your career. If you're gonna do an MBA, that was obviously showing some quite ambition on that side too. With these different things coming into play of, okay, the chat you had with the music masters there, the problem you could see where's the inkling that like I wanna go and do something about myself, or where is it that flight safety of like I'm actually doing quite well, I've got a steady position here. Was it easy for you to decide? Okay, I'm gonna try. And because initially it was a record label, right, was that an easy thing to start? Or was it a challenge with your identity of do I take this risk or not? But I try and it doesn't work out?

Faraan Irfan: 19:03

So during my career, like I said, this was always in the background and I was in the leading telecoms of Pakistan. And then I got a job in in the Middle East. So I was based out of Bahrain but I was working in. The head office was in Dubai and there was. I used to drive across a causeway to Khubar every day and I was there and they had been given a license to start telecom operations in Saudi. That company had, but there was some tiff between our group CEO and Saudi Prince apparently, and so they never ended up getting the license. So we were laid off.

Faraan Irfan: 19:50

So I think I was there for two years and then all of a sudden, having this fabulous career trajectory and being very happy with where I was going, it was a complete shock. I just couldn't understand. I couldn't understand what was happening or how to navigate it, and so moved back to Pakistan for a year. That's when the conversation actually happened with my friend that I spoke about, where he said you should start coaching. You have the time, you're not doing anything, might as well do this. And I was like why would even somebody want to coach with me? And then he got me students, my initial students, and I was very happy about that as well, because this is one of the students I started coaching. He was, his mother took a chance with me. He was initially second or third in his in butterfly and his event and then he eventually spent nine, 10 months with me. He not only broke, he started breaking my records at school and then he went on to break the national record in the event.

Faraan Irfan: 20:53

And then when we compared his timings with the kids in his age group in Australia, if he had competed there he would have gotten the silver medal in his event, so he had become that good. So that transition between the corporate job. And then I applied for the MBA during that time because I was like, what can I do now? And I was very lucky to get admission to this incredible program. I deferred it for a year because I didn't have the money to do it, and so I started doing this, and even while I was doing my MBA I was still coaching swimming. So I used to coach them for three weeks and then not be there for a week again. So who does that to these people to actually take, taking a chance with me, to still continuing, despite me needing to be aware, for a whole week? And so that kind of transition is where the MBA happened. And doing the MBA is when I was storing with three different business ideas.

Faraan Irfan: 22:03

But every time I spoke about music I could see the difference in how people reacted, and not just music per se, but music with me, because what? The term that I learned later was essentially founder market fit, which I didn't realize at that point. But at that point it was just I wanted to do something with Pakistani classical music, which is now South Asian classical music. So what we're doing now is not just for Pakistan but it's for the region. But that point in time that's all I wanted to do, because I wanted to make that difference. I could see these incredible world-class artists who should be getting more recognition on the world state, because there are absolutely incredible and I'm in a position where I can make a difference. I could make a difference, and so that's when I saw that I said, all right, let's do something.

Faraan Irfan: 22:58

And then a conversation with one professor led to him introducing me to a customer who said I will license the music from you, which is where the record label came into play. I said, oh, so what do we need to do? Oh, we need to set up a company so that we can do that transaction. That's where the record label came in. But we only had one customer and that was it. But that laid the groundwork for me realizing that there is a market out there, that there are people who want to listen to this genre, and, during the MBA, realized that there are at that point there were 80 million people who I found wanted to listen to the genre but didn't have easy access to it. And now that the number has grown to 150 million and it continues to rapidly grow, but that's kind of the base, of kind of how it all started.

Amardeep Parmar: 23:56

So obviously you've gone for a pivot there with the record label. Twiddle is today. Can you explain to the audience what that pivot was and what exactly Saarey yesterday?

Faraan Irfan: 24:04

I wouldn't consider it a pivot, I would still say so evolution.

Faraan Irfan: 24:08

Evolution yes, evolution is a better word because we're still doing work in South Asian classical music. At that point it was just Pakistani classical music. And so while, like I keep saying, while doing my MBA, I one of the guest speakers. One of the things that I had chosen to do would speak with everyone, every professor, every guest speaker, all of my peers, everybody I came into contact with about the ideas that I have and what they thought, to get their opinion and their advice.

Faraan Irfan: 24:36

One of the guest speakers at London Business School's entrepreneurship summer school program was Devan Dave. I went up to him, spoke to him as I would with everybody else. He was kind enough to say oh, this is really interesting, let's chat. And so we had several chats. And then on one of those chats, at London Business School's Radcliffe building, on the lower ground floor, they have an L-shaped blue surfboard with multi-colored dots.

Faraan Irfan: 25:05

Still remember we opened a laptop and typical cliche startup story punched in a couple of numbers in a spreadsheet and he said there's a huge market, we, you have the expertise and access to the content. You should have your own music streaming service. And so that's how the record label, which was essentially at that point in time already dead in a sense, but the learnings were there, and the record label then evolved into this music streaming service. The record label was based out of Dubai because from the beginning, I was very clear that this what we should do and what I should be doing should not be only restricted to Pakistan, and so Dubai is a melting pot for all Indians in Pakistanis among

Faraan Irfan: 26:02

Bangladeshis for the region and the world, and so Dubai was a very good place to start. But the ease of doing business in Dubai is good. It's even better here in London, so decided to open the music streaming service here in London so that we can reach a much larger audience and, like Dubai, London is a melting pot for South Asians, and so that record label then evolved into a music streaming service, as it is today.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:28

So it's really interesting how that's grown there. What was that first step? To say, okay, you're going to now make this a music streaming service. What did you now do? So how did you then make that a reality and build that out and get the people on board to get you to where you are today?

Faraan Irfan: 26:43

Just do it, because I'm sure you hear from everyone that's done anything. It was just about doing it. It was like, all right, we want to do this. What do we need to do? Find people. How do we find people? You know? Go to your networks, go to LinkedIn, see where. What are your gaps? I mean, this is all typical. What are the gaps that you have? How can you? You know who are the people that you need, what are the expertise and what are the tasks that need to be delivered? And then deliver that.

Faraan Irfan: 27:13

So the first thing when we thought all right, music streaming service was, went to my network, got advice as to go here and do this and these are the tools you can use to do this, and just did it. Went to the London Business School Network as we were doing that, because we had expertise in Pakistani classical music, but we didn't have expertise in streaming or tech. So tried to look for somebody who worked in Apple or Spotify who could help us. And then Nick is. That's when Nick came into the picture. Nick was initially a mentor to what we were doing because he had worked in Spotify as a subscription manager. So we found him, reached out to him. He said, yes, I'll mentor you and advise you. He was like amazing, great. And then, six months in, he had been giving such great advice and we felt he was such a good fit to us as a company that we you know, I went to New York and I invited him to be a co-founder and I'm so grateful that he accepted, because he's the one who set up the underlying tech infrastructure on analytic infrastructure, on which we base all our decisions.

Faraan Irfan: 28:18

And, like I said, devin is the guy who came up with the idea for the Saarey music platform. It wasn't me, so it's really again, I'm sure you heard all the time just surround with yourself with people who compliment you, who great people who share your vision, and that's how, essentially, the building blocks were made. Our first app was actually white labeled, so we were suggested that there's an online website where all you need to do is upload the content that everything else, we did that. We did it for six months. It was terrible. It was absolute nightmare. It was such a bad service. The user experience was terrible, but that helped us learn that there's a huge market that we, you know, prove, give us initial improved points, that there is actually a market out there that wants to listen to it. So then we went out and found developers, freelancers who continue to work with us even today, who built out that initial platform and then continue that continues to improve.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:21

So the other day I got your investor update as well. So I can see you've made some pretty impressive progress since those early days and I love you could share some of that. There's big wins you've had for the audience. They can get an idea of where you are today.

Faraan Irfan: 29:33

Oh, wow, thank you for asking. So when we before we did our first fundraise, we were at about 7,000 unique monthly active users. We went to investors and said we know there's a big market, we now have a product which resonates with them, and we gave them proof points. We now need your help to accelerate this usage. And they were incredible people who trusted in what we're doing, gave us the money and then in one year, we grew 70 times to over 500,000 unique monthly active users.

Faraan Irfan: 30:10

This was 2022. And then 2023, we grew another 270% to now over 1.4 million unique monthly active users. And now, as we're raising our seed round, we're seeing when we have those proof points there, we're saying to investors, we have now proven out that there is a market that is underserved and what we're doing resonates with them. We have now figured out a repeatable paid customer acquisition strategy and we have the proof points for it and we're saying when we now need your help to scale this. As we said when we raised our pre-seed now we're raising our seed to say at that point we wanted to scale the users. Now we want to scale the monetization.

Amardeep Parmar: 30:53

So what's the overall dream for this right? So you said, I think, Sadele, that's 150 million people in demand of the service. What does success look like? Say, 10 years time? Let's have you do this interview again. What would you hope that you could say you've achieved?

Faraan Irfan: 31:08

Wow, you ask really good questions.

Faraan Irfan: 31:09

Why would these questions not shared in advance?

Faraan Irfan: 31:13

So my ultimate dream is to make South Asian classical music whether it's Pakistani classical music, whether it's Indian classical music or Hindustani classical music a viable career option for everyone, for people like you and me, for people who graduate from the best universities in the world to be thinking about having a career in this genre of music, in whatever capacity that might be.

Faraan Irfan: 31:41

That can be in tech, that can be in music editing, that can be being a musician themselves. That's my eventual ultimate dream. But that involves a lot of different things to happen, so that entire infrastructure and ecosystem needs to be built, and we hope that through Saarey Music, we're able to build that digital infrastructure which can then eventually translate into a physical ecosystem and infrastructure which exists for other genres of music and sadly, it is only at the bare bones of what needs to be there for this genre of music. And so, 10 years down, I hope we'll be. We'll be there to be able to say we've at least, you know, started laying the seeds in people's minds to say I want to do this and I can.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:37

So thank you so much for coming on today. We're gonna have to jump to a quick five questions now, okay, so first one is who are three British Asians you think of doing incredible work that you love to shout out for the audience to pay attention to.

Faraan Irfan: 32:51

So I'd naturally go to artists directly. Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan is one of the best Sitar players in the world today. That is, he's immensely underappreciated. He deserves to be on the world stage. Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, he has an incredible voice. He has gotten some recognition already. He deserves more. And then Ustad Shahbaz Hussain, one of the best Tabla players in the world today. Here he lives here in the UK. There are lots of others which I mean you're restricting me to three, but they're such incredible artists who are doing such incredible work that people really need to start paying attention to, because they're gonna be big very soon.

Amardeep Parmar: 33:38

Well, hopefully a few people listen today. Check out those people you've mentioned. Next one is how can people find out more about you and more about Saarey Music?

Faraan Irfan: 33:45

Oh, great question. Just do a Google search and if you do, I'll be very grateful. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn. We have a website, www. saareymusiccom. Please download the app from the app store. The best experiences on the app and I hope you really enjoy it.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:04

And do you think that the audience could help you if today?

Faraan Irfan: 34:06

Well,thank you. We're always looking for great people to join us. We're always looking for people to download the app, listen to it, enjoy the music. I hope it helps you. People continue to tell us it provides a lot of tranquility and peace and serenity to their lives and I hope that you will download it and also experience that. And we're fundraising. So if you're an investor or if you know investors who might be a good fit for us, please reach out. We have our seed round ongoing at this time. We raised about 30% on now of our three million pound round. We opened the round, think about two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and so we already have 30% and five of our investors previous investors have already followed on. So if you know investors, if the audience knows investors who are interested, we'd love to check.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:58

So thanks so much for coming on again. Have you got any final words?

Faraan Irfan: 35:01

Well, thank you very much for having me and download the app. Check it out. Thank you for watching.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:05

Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

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