Halal Business

7 Business Tips and Lessons From Muslim Startup Founders and CEOs

Founders and CEOs of startup businesses face many challenges.

Halalop has interviewed many business startup founders and CEOs since we started, alhamdulillah. Here we compile the advice of the startup founders and CEOs for small business owners, and other startup founders to use in their businesses.

The advice are taken from our interviews with the founders and CEOs, as they share their entrepreneurial journeys and vision for success.

1 – Chase After Opportunities

When most of us look forward to early retirement, this lady doctor is doing the opposite. A medical doctor by profession, and is in her late sixties, Dr. Aishah continues to pursue her business in health food products by attending food exhibitions around the world to introduce her brand healthy snacks.

She then contacted the Malaysian international trade office in Japan to request them to introduce her products to potential buyers. “We have done a series of food presentation and food tasting to help them visualize how Dr. Aishah’s can complement their menu..”

2 – Leverage On Partnerships

OneAgrix founder and CEO, Diana Sabrain, shares her vision on how everyone can win when businesses see each other as partners, instead of competitors. OneAgrix is a cross-border B2B marketplace for halal food products

“At OneAgrix, we really believe in collaboration. I’ve reached out to competitors, urging them to work together [with us]. Halal certification boards are interested to work with us, although they are restricted by their regulations.”

“We will see [each other] more as synergy partners rather than competitors. There is no single country or a single company that can solve the entire Halal problem. All the different Halal hubs, or marketplaces, have to come together and interoperate. Consider that by 2030, there will be 2 billion Muslims globally, that’s one-quarter of the world population.”

3 – Prove Your Product With Numbers

Muslim investor, Mohamed Geraldez, is a business nomad and an investor mostly in Muslim businesses that have a social impact. As an investor, he advises that entrepreneurs have a validated business model before they pitch investors.

“Show me a product or service that is already working, ideas everyone has ideas your mom has them, everyone has a scheme everyone has tactics everyone has a strategy,” he said.

“If you can show that you are generating revenue and you have like 3 co-founder one is in-change of marketing, one is in charge of finance and you are the operating CEO and you need capital to expand you will not have a problem getting funding from investors. Investors will come looking for you.”

4 – Failure Is Only Temporary

When Sinan Ismail, co-founder and CEO of Digital Durian, and his team, prepared a trailer and a pilot episode of their cartoon show, Didi and Friends, and pitched to all local and international television broadcasters, they were rejected by all.

The cartoon show was their third attempt in entrepreneurship, after having failed in twice before in their business ventures. Unperturbed, they took in the feedback of the broadcasters and improved their cartoon show.

“Then we decided, if TV broadcasters don’t want us, there’s YouTube!”

Sinan and his team then targeted to get a million views on YouTube. Luckily, the show exceeded that target and reached two million views. With the numbers in their favor, they reached out again to Astro, Malaysia’s largest satellite broadcaster. This time, Astro agreed and invested and co-owned the intellectual property (IP) rights to Didi and Friends, and another show a few years later.

5 – More Than Just For Profit

When the brothers, Bilal Stelljes and Abdullah Al Almani, started their business in selling Royal Miswak, their intention was not about profits. They wanted to sell premium Miswak in order to revive a forgotten sunnah of our beloved Prophet s.a.w. Having and using a Miswak is no longer to be seen as a low-income Tablighi group only practice. Its to be seen as an item that is fit for a royal gift.

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Part of the sales proceeds of Royal Miswak goes to financing the upkeep of the school for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.

“What is important is you have to get your intention correct. If you do something for Allah, then Allah will help you”.    

For Khairul Shapawi Abdul Karim, founder of Kyrol Security Labs, national security and data security is his utmost concern. Cybercrimes and malware are becoming more common as more people, businesses and governments go digital.

He realized that Malaysia does not have any homegrown internet security companies. Foreign-based antivirus software will collect such data from their desktop scans and making it possible for these data to be collected and reported back to the antivirus software country of origin. By using Kyrol internet security software, government agencies’ data privacy is protected against any potential leakages to foreign nations.

6 – Empowering Muslims To Be Better

Omar Shahid, cofounded Muslim Influencer Network (MIN) with his partner, after leaving his profession as a journalist in the UK. As a UK-based Muslim journalist, he left journalism because he was disillusioned that the British press only wanted to highlight negative and sensational news about Muslims.

With his co-founder, Saiful Islam, he wanted to showcase that Muslims are normal, and do bring positive aspects to society, including Western society. Hence, they set up MIN which showcases Muslim social media influencers who communicate the values of Islam in mainstream society. MIN promotes Muslim “public figures who can communicate the values of Islam as confident, articulate Muslims who know what they stand for”.

Ultimately, MIN is for empowering Muslims to be better, by showcasing them as public figures in mainstream society. They now have sponsorships from global brands that want to tap into the Muslim consumer market by using Muslim social media influencers on the Muslim Influencer Network.

Fateh Ali the founder of Collabdeen has an amazing story of how his voluntary efforts to help Muslim communities led to a platform that empowers local faith-based communities. This simple desire to help local mosque-goers get the most from their mosque will change how communities interact with their mosques.

7 – Have Tawakkul (Put Your Trust in Allah)

Sharfunnisa Quadri who had the courage to leave her senior manager position at a large US-based technology publicly-traded company to start her own company and become a wellness coach.  But she chose to educate herself, by becoming a Dr. Sears Certified Health Coach and continue to read up on healthy eating, nutrition and attitude changes.

Last but not least, you need to have this: Tawakal. As Sharfunnisa mentioned in our interview, the need for “Tawakkul”.

“Which means “The Trust in God”. Once you understand and embody that, you will take the hardships as well as successes as part of the process.”

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