“I haven’t always been a foodie, but I did see myself loving food more through the course of running Halalfoodhunt. One of the best foods that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying would be the Blackmore Wagyu Rib from The Halia at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
That particular dish stood out so much, I can taste it just by mentioning its name. I have never tasted meat that soft with sauce so intense, and overall so pleasurable that whatever stresses I faced the entire day just melted together with the food in my mouth.
Before I started Halalfoodhunt, I worked as an asset specialist at Warees Halal. They are primarily involved with halal certification matters in Singapore. So, that was the foundation of my halal-verification training. I could be a halal consultant today if I wanted to.
I left that job because I wanted to inject a little bit of life into the awareness of halal food options in Singapore. I would like to think that we have contributed to the increasing number of halal food options in Singapore since we started in 2014.
I think the hardest thing we had to do was to design and engineer our own app. Seeing how there are so many apps for so many things in the market, a user might think that creating an app is as easy as creating a website; but, that is not the case at all.
Most startups in the tech industry are funded, making it easy for them to purchase the talents that they need. We are not funded so we didn’t have that choice. We bootstrapped and learnt to build the app ourselves.
Whatever you see on our app and website – every button, every colour, every word – was carefully placed and selected by my co-founder and I. There were many late nights and it did cost us a lot of money; but, I think all the effort was worth it in the end.
That said, the second hardest challenge would definitely be running a business as a Singaporean Muslim woman. Minorities are still subjected to certain prejudices and it’s not often that we’re seen succeeding like our counterparts from the majority race.
If you check the stats, only three percent of funded startups belong to women, even though funds are made to look equally available to everyone. That puts us at a disadvantage. No matter what, we’re determined to succeed with or without funding.
The circuit breaker also has been tough on us because all of a sudden, a lot of food businesses came to us for help. I want to help everyone, and our team will do our best to do so, but at times it can be overwhelming.
This is why we’ll be rolling out the 2020 Halal Awards, something that we’ve been planning for quite some time. It’s meant to further support our halal food merchants by giving them air time and recognition.
What keeps me going is the love for our community. It makes me happy when I’m able to help a person find halal versions of foods they love. At the end of the day, eating is an activity that brings people together. It seems so simple but it means so much to us.
It’s also a blessing when I get to balance the care for my baby and my business at the same time. I absolutely love it when my clients enjoy the company of my team and my little baby Muadz when we attend business meetings.
They might not know it but it means a lot to me when a client smiles at my baby or holds him as we discuss their media needs. It makes me comfortable and accepted and further spurs me on to do my best for them.
If I have any advice for those who are starting out, it’s to have a clear idea of why you want to start something and how far you want to take it.
If you’re running a startup for the purpose of earning a livelihood for your family, the strategy would be very different from someone who is running a startup for the purpose of serving the wider community.
I also find that startup founders take care of their team but often neglect their own physical and mental health, and that’s not good. So be patient, manage your expectations and most of all, remember that self-care is important.” – Jumaiyah
Interview by: Arman Shah