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Founder Story #4 - Jibran from Manifest
Bridging art and tech in the web3 frontier
Hello Friends 👋
Welcome to another edition of Founder Stories.
Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Jibran, a young builder who is passionate about the fusion of art and technology.
Dropping out of Habib University, Jibran begun his career as an Ad film producer, creating over 200 ads for some of the best Pakistani brands.
And then, he stumbled upon something extraordinary that set his imagination on fire and led him to establish Manifest Studios, a bootstrapped startup and community in the web3 space.
Let’s dive into his journey.
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How did you get here?
I've always been fascinated by new technology and excited to figure how things work. To pursue Liberal Arts, I went to Habib University. In the last year, I decided to take a break and try the practical side of life.
In a week I got hired at Spectrum | VMLY&R to work as an Associate Creative Manager. While producing ads, I discovered web3. It was a eureka moment when I found out this is the perfect intersection of art and tech.
It sparked numerous ideas and the spirit to build so I founded Manifest Studios with my partner-in-crime and friend Choudhry Bilal Mazhar. We got a bunch of amazing people together and started exploring the landscape. As we explored more, we sort of, fell in love with web3.
What exactly is Manifest Studios?
Initially, Manifest Studios focused on educating people about Web3 safety through workshops and reading materials.
Eventually, we started creating our own NFT products while also helping brands with development, design, consultancy, and advisory services for web3 projects.
Today, Manifest is one of the biggest web3 communities in Pakistan.
Tell us about your first product. How did you build and fund it?
Our first product was "Goddesses of Sun," a women-centered NFT collection. With a team of talented artists, graphic designers, and developers, we created this unique offering.
However, we faced some road blocks during the initial launch, but we are tirelessly working on rebranding it and will soon relaunch the collection.
In terms of funds, Manifest has been self-funded from day one. The money we make from producing ads and consulting is reinvested into our projects.
How did you find your first clients?
All the clients we've acquired so far have come to us through these invaluable relations I made along the way.
Engaging with people on community platforms, sharing our stories, and listening to theirs led to great relationships. And those relationships led to warm introductions and recommendations.
What are your goals this year?
I’m working hard to make NFT Karachi a reality because it's bringing together the global NFT community to Karachi.
We’re planning to host over 200 artists from 70+ countries and over 100 speakers, making it the biggest NFT gathering in Pakistan.
Plus, I am actively building a health-tech product, powered by blockchain. It has the potential to change the paradigm and I am so excited to bring it to life in the next year.
Did the community play a role in your growing Manifest?
A lot of my connections were made on Discord and Twitter. LinkedIn has been a great accelerator for me. Through these platforms, I have met people from everywhere and various verticals of tech, which empowered my undying spirit to build.
I believe having the community's trust and support is crucial for the success of any product. If community is with you, your product is gonna work. If not, no matter how good your product is, it wont make any noise.
Tell us a memorable moment from your journey.
So I got invited by Arzish Azam, the founder of Ejad Labs and Future Fest, to have dinner with him during his visit to Karachi.
In just 20 minutes, I was surprised to witness how our synergies matched. I shared my idea for NFT Karachi with him, and he responded, "Let's do it together!" And I was like “wow.” It was an amazing experience that unfolded quickly.
Share a challenging time when you were like "why am I doing this?"
Our GoS launch was planned for November 22nd, but on the same day, the FTX collapse happened out of no where. The team said ‘let’s not do it.’ I was like, ‘no. let’s do it.’
We did and we messed up. The mint was unstable, and the whole NFT community was disheartened. So we had to hold back and decided to relaunch later.
This was a major blow, and I struggled to come to terms with the fact that sometimes mistakes happen. The constant thought of "you messed up" kept repeating in my head. I remember not being able to sleep for three and a half days because of it.
Then I went to my mom and told her how I had worked very hard on something and messed up because of me being hasty. She said something very simple: “no worries, you will make it again. This time even better.” And that did it, I was able to sleep.
A bit about the space
What have been the most influential resources?
As a founder, the Y Combinator podcast and videos.
For those interested in the web3, I recommend the NFT Now podcast.
And if you want to have some fun, check out Andrew Schulz's Flagrant.
What's the weirdest piece of advice you received along the way?
One strange advice was to refrain from sharing contacts. But that’s absurd. I was like instead of focusing on network farming, I should connect people together.
And I am glad I steered away from the gatekeeping culture and remained open. I have facilitated countless collaborations and partnerships just by connecting people with each other and sharing my ideas with everyone and anyone.
Is there a brand, app, or podcast in Pakistan you wish you had built yourself?
Any advice for founders diving in the web3 space?
Just show up and don’t think things. And be the table—when people ask ‘what do you bring to the table?’ Tell them you are the table.
For getting into web3, I’d say:
Always build in public.
Learn from other’s mistakes and case studies.
Build connections in the community to know what’s going on.
Understand how the trends, attention economy, and relevance works.
Here’s a guide we built for people diving into Web3, NFTs, crypto, and whatnot.
Wrapping it up…
Jibran's journey exemplifies the power of community and collaboration. With his relentless drive and ability to rise from setbacks, we can expect more groundbreaking endeavors from Manifest Studios in the future.
During our conversation, Jibran's creativity overflowed, leading to various ideas for future projects we can do together.
These include an annual magazine featuring 100 founders' stories as an NFT, a podcast called "Alt vs Ego," and a very Pakistani dating app. 😍
Here are some links to follow Manifest’s work.
Exciting updates from alt
alt residency: 15 teams, 8 weeks, endless building. We’re dreaming of a YC x buildspace but in Lahore for ambitious folks to build, learn, and iterate under one roof, IRL! 🚀 Check out the concept here.
AltFind celebrates its first win, hiring a Performance Marketer for Lipton. We've got $250 in revenue flowing! Cha-ching! 💸💰
Introduced Steve, a second brain for your Linear. It’s the ultimate painkiller for engineering teams suffering from Linear messiness.
Lastly, watch out for Hassaan Ahmed, the AI art maestro going rogue! Prepare to be amazed by his creations. A peek inside his notoriety 👇
That’s it for today!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let me know your thoughts about this issue in the comments below.
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Until next time,